I have always believed in the principle that the worst inhuman treatment is to try to deny someone his or her right to believe. Anyone or system that takes away anyone’s right to believe must be reformed.
The recent vetting of the minister-designate for information has re-ignited a discourse as to whether people of different faith who find themselves in Christian schools should be made to participate in church services. This, for me, does not really pass for a debate but for the sake of building consensus.
Why would a person of different faith find himself in a Christian school? Christian schools were established with the aim of impacting the values and beliefs of Jesus Christ into people who patronize them and with the hope of modelling them into good and responsible citizens. In essence Christian schools were created to FORM AND INFORM citizens. With this goal at hand, attendance to church activities has been developed as part of the daily activities of some of these schools; some weekly.
The backdrop on which someone of different faith finding himself in Christian faith based school is CHOICE. Some school of thought would disagree. They would opine that in an era of computerized placement, any student could be placed in any institution. But the same school of thought chose to ignore the fact that in the computerized placement system, students are giving the option to select some schools in which they wished to be placed with a last option of selecting any district to be placed in the event that they miss out of their selected schools.
Much as I agree that with the last option one may be placed in any institution, it is most improbable that anybody could be placed in a Christian faith based school if it is not part of his chosen schools. Most of the Christian faith based schools are classified as Grade A or B schools by virtue of their performance and the competiveness in getting placed there. It leaves us with the option that students only get placed in these institutions by virtue of their choices. Christian based institutions are well known by their names or the denominations they affiliate to. It therefore becomes unimaginable how students choose to go to such institutions and yet expect not to participate in what those institutions stand for. Why would you to go to a St.
Charles Minor Seminary/Senior High School or a Pope John Minor Seminary/Senior High School and want to set aside the seminary part of the institution? On what ground would you want to separate the FORMATION aspect of the school from the INFORMATION? Why would you want the school to lower its standards so that it can accommodate you?
If students chose these schools on the basis of their high performance which is hinged on the two-fold role, formation and information, why would they want to follow a portion of what makes these institutions what they are?
The proponents have taken a position that blatantly ignores the fact that if schools like Notre Dame Seminary/SHS,
St. Augustine School, Wesley Girls High, Adisadel College, Holy Child School, St. Louis School, St. James Seminary school and Mfantsipim school, just to mention a few are schools most graduating pupils wish to attend, it is because these schools obtain excellent results and their graduates progress in life stemming from the rules and regulations these schools operate on.
More disturbing is the comparison that students of different faith who find themselves in Islamic schools are not subjected to same worship-rules. This is flawed in itself giving the fact that Christianity operates in a “more open space” than Islam. Indeed, in Islamic institution students irrespective of faith/belief system are made to dress in some style with the ladies made to veil themselves. This could be discomforting for some students, but indeed that’s the rule of the school.
The school exists to form students aside informing them. But for the fact that entering a mosque by anybody is not easily accessible due to the compact nature of Islam, students would have had to practice Islam in full gear in those schools. That’s to say if mosque-system had the church-like system, where there is a lot of talk (sermon and scripture studies), the same rules would have existed in these schools. I would have no issue with that. But I dare say these critics of the Christian faith based school system would have kept their mute.
Be as it may, listening to arguments on what pertains in Christian schools, there is a misconception out there. Being a beneficiary of such a system, I have colleagues who were of different faith but testifying to how attending services has helped shaped their lives. It is observed that most of these students still hold onto their respective beliefs but thankful for the opportunity to learning about the Christian faith. Students in Christian institutions are not made to abandon their faiths/beliefs, neither are they forced to embrace the Christian faith; they are asked to obey the principles and statutes upon which the schools are established for which they longed wanted to attend.
Institutions are governed by rules, regulations, principles and statutes and the school as an institution is no exception. And as far as it is, the onus lies on whoever wants to enter a particular institution to learn of the do’s and don’ts before embracing it. It is of the known that students are briefed of these rules before the start of their studies leaving ample time for them to change their desire of studying in these institutions. I had the opportunity to apply and be recommended for special service as a professional Medical Laboratory Scientist in the military some years back. I declined despite the scathing for work at the time because I knew I could not put up with the rules and regulations governing the military.
Some of my mates who thought they could put up with those rules gave it a shot of being trained there. That’s the element of choice. Indeed, rather than advocating to stop the very rules and regulations that make students want to be in Christian schools, I believe the advocacy should be channeled to the students who think they cannot put up with those rules and regulations to stop patronizing those schools. After all there are institutions where no one really cares about what others believe in. The sole government institutions like Tamale Senior high school, Navrongo Senior High School, Ghana Senior High/Technical Senior, Achimota school and many more in this bracket are options for such students.
It is worrying when you submit yourself to the shrine, you complain of being told to remove your footwear. I love to put on cap, but if I have agreed to be in the church for Mass I have to give up wearing my cap or leave the church. With the discomfort it may bring, anyone who is entering a mosque to pray has to take off the footwear as long as the fellow has agreed to enter that mosque to pray. These are specific rules that govern these institutions which are within the country and as long as you associate with the institutions, the rules ought to be followed. Again CHOICE!
There are pack of rules and regulations that govern seminary/Christian based senior high schools that make them the sort after schools.
Have you ever heard students “Don’t bring “gari” and other “soakables” to school”? Well ask a past student of St. Francis Xavier Seminary school. Have you ever heard “Don’t ride a motorbike whilst you are on vacation”? Ask an Amicus (past student of Notre Dame Seminary school). These are rules and regulations that these institutions make in line with instilling discipline and forming the students to become responsible adults. As long as these institutions would exist and be institutions of much interests, these regulations, statutes, principles and rules cannot go away.
It is hoped that people who rather than advocating a stop to this system, would garner support to authorities in these schools so they can help create a better society. Their energies should be tailored towards re-instating the studies of religious and moral education so as to help solve the mirage of moral decay in our societies today.
The earlier people eschew religious fanatism and support worthy courses, the better for our country.
God bless our homeland Ghana, and make our nation great and strong.
By: Maxwell Akonde