He noted that the standards some of these schools have upheld gives hope that we can turnGhana’s current decline around.
The former President said he recently visited Achimota School when he was feeling dispirited about the situation in the country and was very impressed with the greenery, the gardens and good structures, that it gave him hope.
“I couldn’t believe what I saw. I was amazed at the structures, the greenery, the gardens surrounding the structures, the houses. It was like Achimota had risen out of the ashes. The place gave me so much spiritual satisfaction that it just sparked some hope in me and I thought that if Achimota could do it then Ghana can do it,” Flt Lt Rawlings said.
The former President who was speaking during a recent meeting with the 1995 Year Group of the Wesley Girls High School in Cape Coast, called on old students of such institutions to help pay back what they took from their schools in terms of academic and moral excellence.
“What we need to preserve money cannot buy – that sense of patriotism, sense of fairness, self respect and sense of dignity. We should pay back in order to maintain the standards for the benefit of the country.”
The delegation which was led by its President Asibi Ofori, patron, actress Anima Misa and included Dr. Zanetor Agyeman-Rawlings told President Rawlings their whole destiny had been influenced by him because of the senior secondary school system.
“Twenty years down the line we have come to pay our respects and pick your mind on a couple of things,” Madam Ofori said.
The former President described Wesley Girls as known not only for its academic excellence but also for its sense of discipline. He said it was important that such schools are insulated from being corrupted by current trends such as the protocol allocation that seems to override students of merit.
“Corruption,” the former President said, “is no longer a practice but has become a pervasive culture. The challenge we face is to preserve that sense of discipline and responsibility that goes with academic excellence.”
President Rawlings bemoaned the fact we are becoming immune to corruption, with people now unable to decipher the difference between right and wrong. He said though there are many sensible people who see what is wrong they dare not voice itbecause of the partisan nature of our politics. He charged the ladies from Wesley Girls to speak out on pressing national issues.
“You dare not criticise for fear your job or business might suffer. You don’t do this in a society. It creates a very polarised, very hostile situation. It creates tension and because no one ignites the volatile situation we don’t seem to realise we are living in dangerous times,” President Rawlings said.
Dr. Zanetor Agyeman-Rawlings, daughter of the former President and also a member of Wey Gey Hey 1995, described the Junior and Senior Secondary system as a broad based education that had benefited them immensely.
She was very complimentary of the role Madam Rosina Acheampong, the first Ghanaian headmistress of the school contributed, to shaping their lives.
“You rarely meet people like that and I will like to acknowledge and give thanks to her because she was hands-on from the very beginning. She understood what values meant.
“Most people will look at great institutions such as Achimota, Wesley Girls, Mfantsipim and take them for granted. But they cannot be what they are unless the values are maintained and I think that is where we have a problem because some students are being admitted to schools not on merit and we have situations where people are being allowed to abuse the system and disrespect members of staff because they come from families who are privileged or have political power.
“Unfortunately there is a whole generation that has not had the exposure of what the standard should be. We have a responsibility to re-establish what that goal standard should be, so people have something to aspire to,” Dr. Agyeman-Rawlings said.
The delegation informed former President Rawlings of a project they had initiated for Wesley Girls and sought his support in ensuring its success. The group plans to help give the Home Economics Department of the school a makeover.
Due to the increased intake of students offering the Home Economics option, lessons and examinations for each class are currently running shifts.
This places a lot of pressure on the teaching staff. The year group therefore decided to adopt the project of re-designing and renovating the existing facilities to help alleviate this situation.