For most students, the Secondary school phase is the most exciting or better put, the most adventurous and memorable. It has been almost twenty-five years since I finished Secondary School but on our whatsapp group page, we all fondly remember things that happened in first year and beyond. Sometimes, when the memories are discussed, we all laugh.Other times, it is quite embarrassing for the people at the center of it and so we end the trolls.
There are particular people who have tried to change perceptions we have of them because of some boisterous activities they engaged in to no avail. There are others who have even tried to stop us from referring to them with their nicknames and have failed,especially in public.I would have given a few examples of these ridiculous names to buttress the point if they were friendly.
When we were preparing for our final exams,two major fiascos occurred.This is how the first one began;
One of our mates told some of his friends that he had met someone who said he had leads at W.A.E.C who could sell them likely exam questions. They had three days to pay the agreed sum in exchange for the questions. The unusual queues at the phone booths were because people were making calls to find the money. That week, no one “flexed” the dinning hall meals because they were saving up for the so called man with the questions. The good Samaritans could not keep the good news to themselves and called their friends and families in other schools to send their monies for the questions too. The exams began a few months after. None of the likely exam questions “dropped” in the first batch we wrote. There was confusion. Some of the affected students decided to prepare better for the remaining ones and forget the questions they bought. Others were too depressed to even learn anything else so decided to chase after their money or a new set of questions.The boy who had told his mates about the exam questions deal was pursued in a hot chase and beaten. He had to visit the school clinic for his wounds to be treated. The nurse informed his house master and that was how the whole story came to light.
“He has to be expelled”;
“He must not be allowed to finish the exams “;
“He and all others involved must not be allowed to continue the exams”.
“Their results must be held for two years”;
“If we don’t do anything, we will be sending a bad example to the form 2 students”;
“Let’s put the names of all those who sent monies for apor on the notice board so they bear the embarrassment”;
Every teacher had an idea of the punishment that needed to be metered out to the culprits.In the end, their names were published, they were all dismissed from the boarding house and made to sign bonds. As you can imagine, some teachers were not happy with this “minimal” punishment.
The second fiasco was also before our final exams. A final year student was caught in bed with a first year student in a teacher’s bungalow. The lady was a teacher’s daughter. Again, the issue of the boy not being allowed to write his final exams with the rest of us came up. I do not remember if the boy left the school out of embarrassment or he was actually punished not to take the final exam that year.
The culprits in both fiascos have grown to become responsible young adults and you may not believe it when told that these are some of the acts they engaged in while in Secondary School. You should see how sheepish they look when we tease them in the presence of their wife and children.
For some,the experience automatically wiped away their interest in boisterous activities.Some failed their exams woefully and had to write the NOV/DEC a number of times before continuing their education.Those who had intentions of joining the security services could not because they had a stain on their testimonials. Others have embraced their action as one that caused them to grow up. But generally, none of them are pleased with their actions.
Till date, whenever there is talk about S.S.S.C.E or W.A.S.S.C.E , someone comes to remind the group about these two issues.Last year, the Pasco Contractor (the gentleman of the center of the first fiasco) could not bear the annual trolls anymore. He rendered an apology to everyone, especially those who had vowed never to speak to him because they had fallen out their parents for the deed or been branded as thieves because they stole the money they gave to him and exited the page.He even had to refund the monies back to some of them because it happened that he was given a percentage of the business he gave to the so called W.A.E.C official.
I ask myself, so if they were not allowed to write the final exam, how many of them could afford to enroll in private schools to write? Would they have become the teachers, I.T personnel, Economists, Architectures,Doctors and Lawyers that they are now?
Also, at that age, embarrassment was a big deal so was it not enough punishment to call them out and have them sign bonds?
Considering how daring and adventurous students in Secondary are known to be, can there be sessions at orientation on the long term effect of their actions? -Things like why they need clean testimonials, why they must be careful of what they post online and even why they must play gentle; one can miss an opportunity into the forces because of a scar situated on some particular parts of their bodies, for instance.
These sessions could be additions to the usual things discussed at Orientations.
We keep hearing of shameful occurrences in Secondary schools even though strict punishments are metered out to deter others from doing same.
Can school authorities do more than just punish?
Can students stop the silly actions to prove “they were here some” because they will live to regret it?
Do they know the internet does not forget?
Whose responsibility is to get the recalcitrant adolescent to understand the impact of their misdeeds?
“Children must be taught how to think and not what to think” Margaret Mead