Students rioting and other forms of indiscipline such as stealing, fighting, illicit drug usage and premarital sex are a common phenomenon in many Senior High Schools in Ghana. Factors that easily trigger some of these misbehaviours include: lack of fence walls around most schools, teachers’ inability to punish errant students due to interference by religious, traditional and political leaders, and authorities’ incapability to control students due to overpopulation among others.
However, for the St. Charles Minor Seminary and Senior High School in Tamale in the Northern Region, not a single form of rioting has ever been recorded since the establishment of the school 60 years ago.
“We count ourselves among the most disciplined schools in Ghana. We, in St. Charles have always tried to inculcate discipline in both students and masters. The daily attendance to mass, where discipline and morality are always preached and practiced and school authorities try to ensure that both students and masters adhere to common ethics in the school,” Jakpa Paul Kelly, Headmaster of St. Charles made this revelation during the 60th Anniversary celebration of the school.
The result of this positive attribute of St. Charles is a consistent record of excellent academic performance each year, with 80 percent of final year students who write the West Africa Secondary School Certificate Examination attaining good grades to enter the university while the rest enter post secondary institutions.
Mr. Jakpa continued: “The good results of the school come as a result of both teachers and students being disciplined. Regular attendance to classes punctually by both teachers and students, regular checks on students and masters during teaching hours translate into this good results”, he emphasised.
Challenges that pose threat to discipline
Unfortunately, there are various challenges currently facing the St. Charles school and if not addressed, overtime, could create a conducive environment for indiscipline. Notably amongst these challenges include: decent means of transport to the school, inadequate classrooms, students dormitory and teachers accommodation, insufficient space in the school’s library, science laboratories and ICT classroom.
Many of these facilities according to Mr. Jakpa have existed for more than four decades. Today, the population of the school is about 745, thus limiting the number of students that will like to read science which cannot go without practicals, he observed.
“Currently the school has only ten bungalows for forty-nine teachers. Most of the teachers have to commute from town to the school when classes start at 7:00am prompt. Supervision and offering of voluntary teaching becomes highly difficult. We feel that if a good number of the masters are on campus discipline and good academic work will improve,” the headmaster opined.
Established in 1953 at Wiaga in the Builsa District in the Upper East Region by the Missionaries of Africa (White Fathers) and later moved to Tamale in 1955, it was not until 2001 when the St. Charles school solely ran by the missionaries was absorbed by government.
With “Rector Sapere” as its motto, meaning “Outstanding Among Peers”, the single sex school has over the years produced Catholic priests, security officers, medical doctors, bankers, administrators, lawyers, educationists and politicians among others.
The 60th anniversary celebration brought together alumni, teachers and current students of the school as well as other dignitaries such as the Executive Secretary to the President of the Republic of Ghana Dr. Raymond Atuguba who is also an alumnus, the Minister for Trade and Industry Harunah Iddrisu and the Northern Regional Minister Bede A. Ziedeng.
Other guests include the retired Archbishop of Tamale, Gregory Kpiebaya, Archbishop of Tamale, Philip Naameh, the Bishop of Damongo, Peter Paul Ankyier and the Northern Regional Director of the Ghana Education Service, Paul Apangah.
The school received several donations amounting to thousands of Ghana cedis from old students, the President of the Republic, the Northern Regional Minister as well as other well wishers.