From Francis Owusu-Ansah, Sunyani .
A teacher at the Manji Agriculture Senior High School in the Tain District in the Brong-Ahafo Region, has inflicted severe cane wounds on a 15-year-old Form One student, Master Haruna Ishawu.
The action of the teacher, only known as Justice, flies in the face of a March 2017 directive by the Minister of Education, Dr Matthew Opoku Prempeh, that, under no circumstance should students be canned as punishment.
The directive was a reinforcement of the ‘Positive Development Tools’ designed during the Harry Sawyer era, which seeks to use alternative means of punishing students and pupils, apart from canning.
As if his unwarranted assault on the student was not enough, the teacher further prevented the General Arts student from writing his Science paper on Monday, July 9, 2018. The Chronicle gathered that 24 hours after the assault on the student, he has not accessed any health facility for treatment of his wounds, because the school has no clinic, and the student, unfortunately, left his Health Insurance card at home, which makes it impossible for him to go to any health facility in the town.
Unimpeachable sources at the school told The Chronicle that Master Ishawu, who completed the Kurabaso Junior High School in Damongo in the Northern Region, reported to class on Monday, refreshed from the weekend rest and ready to write his examination, but was told by the teacher (Justice) to go back to the dormitory to comb his hair. Our source said the student obeyed the instruction of the teacher and rushed back to his dormitory, House 4, but all the doors were locked, so he could not get a comb to tidy his hair, as instructed by the teacher.
The student then returned to the classroom with the information that he did not get a comb for the intended purpose.
Following that, Teacher Justice, perhaps angered by the response from the student, grabbed a cane and starting beating Ishawu mercilessly.
Not even the pleas for mercy from the student and his class mates would calm down the enraged teacher, and by the time his assault on the student was over, eleven etched cane marks were left on the back of the student. Upon receiving the tip off, The Chronicle contacted the Brong-Ahafo Regional Public Relations Officer (PRO) for the Ghana Education Service (GES), Mr. Luke Mensah, who promised to confirm and get back to us.
When he eventually got back to us, Mr. Mensah, indeed, confirmed the incident at the school, but with some variations.
According to the GES PRO, per the information given him, the student in question is a truant and has ‘rasta hair’, which compelled the said teacher to instruct him to remove it.
But Mr. Mensah was quick to add that, even if the student had that kind of hair on, that was not a good reason to inflict the cane wounds on him, since canning had been outlawed by the Ministry of Education. “I have been informed that the student in question has a ‘rasta hair’ and that was why he was punished, but my point is canning has been outlawed by ministry of education and we cannot defend the action of the teacher anywhere”, Mr. Mensah told this reporter.
The GES PRO further said the Guidance and Counselling Units in the various schools must ensure that students are not caned as punishment. “Students can be made to even fetch water for the school kitchen when they go wrong,” he added.
The GES PRO added that he had asked the authorities of the school to immediately take the boy to a health facility and bear the cost.
“I told them to take the boy to a health facility and the school must bear the cost, because what happened was not the best,” he said. When The Chronicle contacted the Form Master, Mr. Eric Asare, he refused to respond to a message on his WhatsApp line.
The Senior Housemaster, however, confirmed the incident, saying “the Headmaster of the school has just informed me this morning [Tuesday] about the incident. I am, therefore, not in a position to comment on the matter.”
He directed The Chronicle to rather speak to the Headmaster, but all attempts to contact the Headmaster yielded no result. The Chronicle has, however, learnt that the boy left the campus on Tuesday afternoon and reported at the West Gonja District hospital for treatment, where he was directed by doctors to report to the police for a Police Medical Form.
As at 3.25pm, there was no doctor at the hospital to endorse the medical form for the student to be treated. An elder brother of the student, Samed Haruna, told The Chronicle that they had been told to wait till a doctor endorses the medical form before they can administer treatment.