President Akufo-Addo has issued a directive to the Education Minister to consult with the Ghana Education Service (GES) and persuade it to allow 13 final-year senior high school WASSCE students, expelled for staging protests, vandalising school property, assaulting invigilators or circulating abuse on social media, to sit their examinations.
A news release from the communications directorate of the Office of the President at Jubilee House in Accra said the president has directed Matthew Opoku Prempeh, the Minister of Education, “to engage the Ghana Education Service … to reconsider its decision” to ban the students.
“The President believes that everyone deserves a second chance in life, and is thus hopeful that the students will be allowed by the GES to take their final examinations as scheduled,” the release said.
The statement however urged officials to apply all other sanctions, including surcharges for damage to school property.
Invigilators were “too strict”, papers too tough
The 13 students – from Battor Senior High School, Juaben Senior High School, Sekondi College and Tweneboah Kodua Senior High School in Kumawu – rioted on 3 August after variously protesting that their integrated science paper in the West African Senior School Certificate Examinations (WASSCE) was too difficult, exam invigilators too strict, or social distancing measures too rigid. One of the candidates, from Sekondi College, rained abuse on President Akufo-Addo for forcing final-year students, as he saw it, to return to school to sit for the WASSCE.
He bucked against the integrated science paper that the students had sat on Monday, describing it as too tough and nothing like past exam questions had led him to expect.
All 13 students were expelled from their schools by order of the GES management on Thursday (7 August). Three teachers – from Kade Senior High Technical School, Sekondi College and Tweneboah Kodua SHS – were also reprimanded and barred from invigilating further examinations pending the outcome of investigations into their conduct during the disturbances.
The GES insisted that misconduct would not be tolerated in schools and directed administrators to punish all those involved.
The first full week of WASSCE exams for core subjects was disrupted in a handful of schools by both students and staff engaging in antisocial behaviour.
West African Examinations Council (WAEC) officials, invigilators and journalists have been at the receiving end of assaults by aggrieved students protesting, confusingly, against the level of supervision in examinations.
In a separate incident on Thursday, students at Bright SHS in Kukurantumi, in the Eastern Region, assaulted examination supervisors and a journalist working for the Daily Graphic.
The students have been widely condemned for their actions after clips of their behaviour went viral on social media.
In a statement, Kwasi Opoku-Amankwa, director general of the GES, urged schools to expel any student found culpable. He said their actions was unacceptable and called for the Ghana Police Service to become involved. “Ghana needs educated and disciplined citizens in its forward march to development and … no student is above the law,” Professor Opoku-Amankwa said.
The Ghana National Association of Teachers also called for the arrest of students who had attacked GNAT members.
But the pressure group Child Rights International, while calling for a thorough investigation into the disturbances, said the students should not be denied their right to take the examinations.
And one of the rioters made a crushed-sounding plea for forgiveness by all Ghanaians.
Asaase Radio correspondents / E A Alanore