Deputy Minister in charge of General Education, Yaw Osei Adutwum, has revealed clashes recorded in two senior high schools in the Upper East Region resulted from absence of student leaders.
Form 3 students who were elected prefects, have completed and left school while the second-year students who were handed the power, are also on vacation.
This leaves only the first-year students in school, due to the implementation of the Double Track policy at the secondary level of education, Dr. Adutwum observed after he met with heads of education institutions across the region recently.
Two High Schools in the Upper East Region – Sandema Senior High Technical School and Kongo Senior High School- remain closed following rioting by students. Sandema SHTS was shut down last week after a section of the students rioted, alleging bullying from the school’s cadet corps.
Local police were called in to calm the situation but their interference led to a fatality as the officers fired shots when the students pelted them with stones.
On Monday, July 22, students of two ethnic groups in the Kongo SHS clashed following a disagreement.
The closure of the two schools, which was at the instance of Regional Minister, Paulina Abayage, is to allow investigations into the unrest as well as the death recorded in the Sandema SHTS incident.
“What I realised was the fact that there is essentially a leadership vacuum…because the Form Ones [students] are in school. Those prefects were in Year 3 and the Year 3 students and [maybe] new leaders were selected in Form 2 and the Form 2 students left [for vacation],” the Deputy Minister, Dr. Osei Yaw Adutwum told Myjoyonline in a conversation, Wednesday, July 24.
As a result of the vacuum, the students have no one among them as leaders to report or share their grievances with, leading to some of them taking the law into their own hands.
Election of Form 1 leaders
But the Deputy Minister, who is the Member of Parliament for Bosomtwe constituency in the Ashanti Region, says immediate steps are being taken to bridge the gap across senior high schools in the country.
This will see first and year students also elect prefects for the various departments who will work closely with the students’ representative councils (SRC) made up of Form 3 prefects. This will enable the Form 1 and 2 leaders to take over the mantle whenever their seniors are there is the need, he disclosed.
“So now what need to do is to ensure that every Form or grade level have leadership in the Double Track System…and all of them will work together as part of the SRC so that when the Forms 1&2 are not there, the Form 1 prefects can take charge as leaders because we know that student leaders play a critical role in the administration of our schools
Dr. Adutwum acknowledges the important role students leaders play in the administration of schools in the country and pledged to quickly bridge the gap “…and make sure that there will not be students in school without a leadership.”