children or enter into any form of sexual relationship should be tried and dismissed outright after they serve their sentences. They should “not be treated with kid gloves”. Adults, in general, should receive stiffer punishments when they defile children, especially students.
Madam Speaker, another issue that is worrisome to me is in the area of child labour as perpetrated by some teachers and some parents. Child labour as it relates to parents is a bigger issue that needs to be addressed on another forum. My concern here, as a member of the Select Committee on Education, relates to teachers' abuse of children with respect to child labour.
Many teachers use children for various errands and household chores to deprive these students of the core responsibility of studying. In the rural areas, teachers send students to work on their private farms instead of them being in the classroom studying. Others send them on errands to trade for them on market days. Still others use students for various household chores including cooking, washing, cleaning, fetching water, ironing, et cetera.
There might be some teachers who try to train some of these students to learn some of the rudiments of household chores. That is not what my worry is. My worry is where the relationship escalates into a master-servant relationship, and students are made to work or run errands when their classmates are in class studying.
Madam Speaker, the third issue, and the thrust of my Statement is the practice that goes on in our second cycle institutions, especially in the senior high schools. Madam Speaker, I am referring to the practice of initiation of first-year students in our boarding schools. Others call it “Homoing” or “Baptism” or “Initiation”. This is getting out of hand in many schools and I am calling on the Ministry
of Education, the Ghana Education Service (GES) and the Conference of Assisted Secondary Schools (CHASS) to initiate action to curb these practices. By this practice, new students are subjected to inhuman practices, intimidation, harassment of all forms, some bordering on criminality.
In addition, there are some suspicious relationships among students that are very disturbing. Some “Supi-Supi” relationships lead to lesbianism, and the males, to homosexual relationships. Other relationships lead to occultism and idol worshipping, while other high- tech relationships lead to the formation of E/Crime or “Sakawa” syndicate in our schools. School authorities should wake up to the task of monitoring and supervising the activities of students' clubs and associations on campuses.
Furthermore, Madam Speaker, in the almighty name of “initiation”, there are practices of intimidation and victimization resulting in first-year students losing some property and clothing procured for them by their parents. Many first-year students have their provisions seized or confiscated by seniors, and they never get them back. Unfortunately, some house-masters condone and connive with the seniors to perpetuate this practice.
Items that are not allowed to be brought to school by school regulations should of course not be allowed to be smuggled in. I am talking about “legitimate provisions” that are confiscated illegally and with impunity. Unfortunately, when victims of this practice become seniors, they repeat and perpetuate the practice all over again. The cycle of “homoing” should be broken. It is not good for the psyche, psychological well-being and personality of students.
Finally, Madam Speaker, I want to touch
on the issue of examination malpractices. It is a manifestation of indiscipline. The indiscipline and indiscretion on the part of an individual student, or a group of students can lead to the victimization of the innocent majority. A whole examination may be cancelled, or the results of an examination may be cancelled due to the indiscipline or indiscretion of an individual student, thus jeopardizing the future and fortunes of a whole class or several people.
It is sad to note that some irresponsible teachers and/or parents condone such acts of indiscipline and indiscretion much to the detriment of innocent students. The whole practice of cheating in examinations should be discouraged, not condoned.
Madam Speaker, I want to call on all parents, teachers, the Ministry of Education, the Ghana Education Service (GES), as well as the entire Ghanaian public to instill some discipline into the fabric of our society, especially into our students, so that we can ensure a promising future for our nation. We should all encourage our students to climb unto a higher moral ground, cultivate the spirit of hard work, and be imbued with a culture of respect for authority and state institutions.
Madam Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity.
Deputy Minister for Education (Dr. J.
S. Annan): Madam Speaker, let me first of all congratulate the Hon Prof. (Emeritus) S. K. Amoako for the Statement and the concern that he has shown for the future of this country through our children.
Madam Speaker, I totally concur with my Hon Friend that discipline has indeed broken down in schools in Ghana. But, Madam Speaker, it is important to note that the schools are but a reflection of what
is going on in the wider society. Madam Speaker, we see a breakdown of discipline in all aspects of life; on our streets, as has been said, even in our churches.
Madam Speaker, I think at the bottom of this breakdown is that, the regime of sanctions and rewards in our dear country has lost its way. I will give an example: In the education sector today, it appears that the only sanction available to the Ghana Education Service (GES), when a teacher commits rape, embezzles or gets drunk on the job, is only transfer. This, Madam Speaker, leaves us in a position whereby even well-meaning teachers will end up committing crimes because the sanctions that are meted out never befit the crime.
So, Madam Speaker, I agree with our Hon Professor (Emeritus) Amoako that, indeed, we need to work together to review the underpinning causes for this laxity in our system. Let me appeal to all Hon Members of Parliament and to society as a whole, particularly churches, mosques, influential persons in the chieftaincy set- up that, this indiscipline we are seeing expressed in many ways that was touched upon including cheating in examinations and so on, is something that should be of major concern to all of us.
If we can take an exercise in examining what some of the causes of these indisciplines are, and why the values, norms and practices in Ghana today have reached such a low level, it would serve as a good start to address the issues raised in our schools in Ghana.
Madam Speaker, let me just add that, the Ministry and the GES are ready to look at the underpinning values and systems that are in place that can help to address the social malaise that is sweeping across our schools.