I read the story over and over again because I could not believe what I was reading happened here in Ghana. A pupil threatening to shoot his mate and a teacher at a school?
According to a Daily Graphic report published on June 15, a 14-year-old class three pupil in a school at Damongo in the Savanna Region of Ghana had an altercation with another pupil and threatened to shoot any teacher who dared to intervene in the matter.
The headmaster reported him to the police and a search in the boy’s room revealed a pistol with two rounds of ammunition. Upon interrogation by the police, the boy said he took the pistol from a bag his elder brother gave him to keep in his room.
Worrying? Yes, because stories of school shootings seem too farfetched for us here in Ghana. We see them in movies and hear about them in some advanced countries. So, it's happening under our noses and for some of the school mates reportedly confirming to the headmaster that a day before the incident they had seen the boy with the gun is too much to process in.
We do live in worrying times with strange behaviours and attitudes from school children. The chilling beating to death of a school teacher in Asiakwa recently by some students is too emotional to recall. Soon after that, there was a media report of students attacking a teacher in another part of the country.
There have been cases of student rioting in schools with destruction and burning of properties by angry students. Where are we heading with such intolerable behaviours from school children at the least provocation?
One can only conclude that parents are spending very little time talking with their children these days to the extent of neglecting the nurturing, love and care that they need for their emotional stability. I am surrounded in my community by not less than six well-performing schools from nursery to Montessori to the academy and basic schools.
As early as 6 am on my early morning walks, I see parents and taxis dropping children off. I have often wondered whether these children have been fed breakfast and what time they have had with the parents before they were quickly dispatched to the school. The same pattern runs through after school as well as weekends. Parents are running, indeed on a rat race, so who is conversing with the children and getting to know them?
The world of today’s child, unfortunately, is one of the promiscuities. It is a world of individualism, selfishness, intolerance, and overtly egoistic. A world where everything must happen instant, including wealth without hard work. Our children need critical parental guidance to steer clear from follies and come to appreciate the core values of life.
Parents are busy chasing academic laurels, promotions and big titles at work and have engaged house helps to provide parental love and care and support with material resources, television to be turned on at will and smartphones and computer games to keep them occupied. As to what they are learning from these devices, we probably are not checking and are depending on teachers at school to do the real checks.
Maybe, yes, schools also have a role to play in the shaping up of our next generation leaders in that children spend nearly seven hours each day in the care of school authorities. Much could be imparted during that time, not only academically but also morally and emotionally. That is why one tends to support the idea of mission schools as some of us grew up to know. Elsewhere, mission schools right from age 5 are sought after by parents.
Though expensive, parents are guaranteed that the child would be taught and grow up with some moral and societal values. Thankfully, we have strong mission schools and universities around which need to be supported and partnered by the Ministry of Education to help train the children who pass through their hands.
That is why I would endorse the call by the President of the Presbyterian University College, Rev. Professor Emmanuel Adow Obeng during a forum organised by the Presbyterian Church of Ghana last week. He called for the government to partner the Church in the area of education to help inculcate morally accepted education in our school children. Indeed, the missions have played critical roles in our educational system and helped give moral and emotional direction to students.
At a critical time in our nation’s development and especially where we are beginning to feel some moral and emotional decay, where tolerance and accommodating each other is being wiped out from our lives, there is the quick need to stem the tide. Moral education both at home and school should be of prime concern.