Another Sad Day for Ghanaian Education

By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.

In any situation of significant human
interaction, either professional or casual,
there are bound to erupt conflicts and
misunderstandings. What matters is how
problems are resolved. Tackled
constructively, both parties to a conflict are
apt to mature emotionally and develop
intellectually. Where matters are allowed to
degenerate into resentment and enmity, the
resulting damage can be physically
irreparable and psychologically and
emotionally devastating.

This appears to have been the case of 22-
year-old Ms. Charity Nyarko, a kindergarten
teacher at the St. Joseph’s Anglican
Preparatory School at Asuafo, near Nsuta, in
the Asante Region (See “Female Teacher
‘Beaten’ To Death In Ashanti Region”

In the main, Ms. Nyarko is
reported to have excessively disciplined one
of her young charges which resulted in an
unspecified bodily injury to the child.
Naturally riled by the situation, some
relatives of the injured child decided to
literally take the law into their own hands by
assaulting Ms. Nyarko.

At least one of the injured child’s relatives is
reported to have retaliated by hurling a
nondescript chair at the “offending” teacher
who, in a self-defensive attempt to fleeing
her livid assailant, fell into an open gutter –
or sewage system – and severely injured
herself, resulting in her tragic death later at
the hospital. We are further informed that a
remorse-stricken Ms. Nyarko, accompanied
by the unnamed headteacher of her school,
had gone to the home of her injured pupil to
apologize for her apparently inappropriate
disciplinary measure when she was met with
the depraved hostility resulting in her death.

This is not the kind of Ghana I want to be
chest-out proud of. I am sick to my stomach
and heavy-hearted with anger and
disconsolate grief. As yet, we have not been
afforded the full details of the exact nature
of both the kindergartner’s offense and Ms.
Nyarko’s disciplinary response.

Whatever be the case, an unpardonable crime has been committed; a young talented and promising life has been needlessly wasted where adequate professional, and even legal, sanctioning would have amicably restored the faith of both parties in the most modern
acculturation system that we have known to

By way of remedy, I would like to see three
forward-looking measures promptly instituted
in order to forestall the apparently
inappropriate punishment that resulted in the
bodily injury to the child, and the
consequently tragic demise of a young
teacher, at the dawn of a promising career,
who evidently believed that she was just
about the age-old rotuine pedagogical process
of not sparing the rod in order not to spoil
the child, in Biblical parlance.
One, strict and clear guidelines for pupil
discipline (perhaps in the form of a slim
volumed handbook) must be codified,
published and freely distributed throughout
the country by the Ministry of Education.

Two, a professional code of conduct for all
elementary and secondary school teachers
must also be clearly articulated in print and
made available to all public educational
institutions and be widely publicized in the
national media. And finally, a codified
behavioral guide for the parents and
guardians of schoolchildren must be published
and distributed across the country by the
Ministry of Education. The monetary and/or
capital resources invested in such a perennial
public-service project is likely to positively
pay off in the form of the creation of a
healthy environment for all stakeholders in
the academic and cultural development of
our children, as well as the future well-being
of the country at large.

It is almost certain that the assailants of Ms.
Nyarko had a troubled upbringing. Which, of
course, is in no way to imply that they ought
to be spared the most commensurately
punitive measures allowed by the law.
*Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.
Department of English
Nassau Community College of SUNY
Garden City, New York
Nov. 26, 2013

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