If a student lives in a school environment, keeps a bushy hair and is asked by a teacher to go and cut it and the student refuses to do so, what do you expect the teacher to do? Obviously trim it so it compels the student to do the right thing.
These days such acts are seen as abusing the rights of students. Some students fight with teachers in their schools and are left to stay in school because when they are dismissed, it is seen as denial of their right to education.
When students are registered for WASSCE, it’s as if they have been possessed by the spirit of misdemeanor.
Order ceases to take place in their lives and some even opt to stay out of class within such last periods as students.
The failure to attend prep becomes prevalent in most schools; with most of these students saying to you that “Apͻ bεba” (leaked questions will come).
The inability to withdraw students after they register brings a burden to schools since the student knows that the worse a school can do is indefinite suspension (that some heads are afraid to execute because of fear from above) but they have hope of coming back to write.
The evolution of technology and applications like WhatsApp, Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram, have taken the bigger chunk of the time of young boys and girls in school, limiting their reading time and also introducing them to shorthand writing which is reflecting in how they compose sentences when they write exams.
Some manage to bring these phones to school, and are hooked on it with some level of addiction. Time allocated for sleep is dedicated to late night calls to obviously not their parents, but acquired boyfriends and girlfriends.
By morning, their minds are too tired to focus on the events in the classroom, let alone grasp the lesson taught.
When they get home too on vacation, and thanks to the proliferation of satellite TV, and even non satellite TV channels, their vacation period, which could have been dedicated to subtle reading, is aggressively taken over by telenovelas of all kinds; Kunkum Bhagya, Veera, Asͻ wodem, What Life Took From Me, without realizing that what life is actually taking away from them is success at the examinations.
We can contrast that with the days of 2000 and below when three TV stations were popular, and you only got to enjoy Sinbad on GTV on Friday, or the Bold and Beautiful on Metro on a Saturday.
Your best bet to a means of communication was a phone booth that made your call card useless after it has hastily run out your 50 units.
This is in no way to say technology is not good, it is. If for nothing at all it has connected most of us to our old classmates we wouldn’t have had access to in say 1999. So how best do we balance the equation?
It mostly brings into the equation parents. In as much as I did not separately discuss parents, they are part of the challenge and the failure.
Some parents give mobile phones to their wards to come to school with, all in the name of communicating with them. For Christ’s sake you came to meet human brings in the school, get a teacher’s number and call your ward through him or her. Most irresponsible parents do not consider the bigger impact the mobile phones have on their kids and their non-performance in school.
It becomes worse when they are in the WASSCE period. Almost every one of them is seen in possession of a phone, and this also is a period where teachers opt to comment less about their behaviour because they are almost exiting.
The issues are many, and I do not think a single write-up can exhaust all the factors that contribute to the failure of our children, friends, nieces and nephews and our young brothers and sisters, but I do believe that when some of the issues raised are given some attention, it will have a positively significant impact on the outcome of results.
Let us make sure that first year students report at least a week before continuing students, as is the case in the universities. People in power should rather look at the positive impact that certain decisions taken in schools go to improve learning, rather that exercising power without thought. As teachers let’s do our work well, and in well thought out manner. After all that is the reason why you go to the bank, if not then find another job.
With regard to exams and invigilators, let’s make it difficult for cheating to occur, even if it means adopting audio devices to monitor voice activities in exam centers. As students, let’s discard the phones at least for now.
The statement they usually make is that the exam is their life. If you have been sensible enough to realise that WASSCE can make or unmake you, then you have found the first key of common sense, implement the second part of commitment to succeed. And finally as parents, what is wrong with us?
It is not just enough to pay fees, but be more concerned what your child is doing with his/her time. What is the point in spending three years and paying all these fees only for them to stay home and write Nov/Dec for another three?
There is more we all can do to make things better. I have said my piece.
By Henry Duah Sarkodie