A Facebook post by JoyNews has led to the misinterpretation of what was meant to be a solid response to recent news of congestion in schools and has now been taken completely out of context by various media houses and bloggers.
The post with the caption “LACK OF TOILET FACILITIES: ‘At least you have the rubber bag’ -Education Minister Matthew Opoku Prempeh tells SHS students” was published JoyNews online on the 30th of November 2017 and has now been shared, with the truth twisted and distorted to the detriment of the image of the minister.
What the minister said was a side comment after a presentation of facts that debunked incorrect assertions that the implementation of the Free SHS policy had caused congestion, leading to some students having to empty their bowels in polythene bags. His exact words were"
“There are few schools still in Ghana here, that are secondary schools that have no toilets; that is not the result of free SHS. So when you see some people portray that some people say “when I go I do it in a rubber bag and walk 45 minutes… (at least you have the rubber bag).”
Obviously this is different from what has been reported and circulated. Certainly the Minister did not tell students to defecate in rubber bags. This deliberate distortion is wicked and malicious and clearly designed to take attention away from the solid and concise presentation by the Minister on the Free SHS programme. One can only wonder what motivated the decision to focus on this otherwise insignificant side comment by the Minister.
The Ministry of Education will like to caution media houses spreading this wrong information to desist from doing so further and also to quote the Minister correctly.
Media houses and bloggers are also advised to adhere to the standard procedures of journalism and publishing by double checking the facts of a story before posting to avoid misleading the public on sensitive issues.