Tragedy in Ghana’s high schools: Eight students meet their untimely deaths

Source The Ghana Report

In recent months, Ghana’s Senior High Schools (SHS) have become the backdrop for a troubling trend.

This is because there is a surge in student deaths in most SHSs across the country.

Some have attributed these deaths to the refusal of school authorities to sign exeat cards for students to go home and seek medical care.

Others say the school is not equipped with the necessary health facilities to aid students who require care on campus.

Across the country, parents are grieving the loss of their children, blaming school authorities for neglecting their duty to ensure the well-being of students.

While some may argue that the school may not always be at fault, one may ask, how did a nurturing environment for learning turn into a death trap?

Indeed, high school students, like adults, are not immune from encountering death. At the root of the matter is the pervasive belief among housemistresses and dormitory masters that students fabricate stories or feign illness as an excuse to leave campus and have fun.

As each tragedy unfolds, questions about priorities and responsibilities within the educational system come to the fore.

How can schools strike the balance between discipline and compassion?

Is the reluctance to grant ‘exeat’ a symptom of systemic neglect or a genuine concern for maintaining order?

In this article, The Ghana Report seeks to bring to the fore the death incidents, to alert the authorities on the urgent matter.

In no particular order.

Aburi Girls’ SHS incident

In February this year, Ghanaians woke up to the sad news of the death of a first-year student at Aburi Girls Senior High School (SHS) in the Eastern Region.

The 15-year-old student, Stacey Okyere, passed away on Monday, February 5, 2024, after complaining of severe stomach pains.

Reports indicate that she was denied medical attention by the school nurse, who purportedly accused her of repeatedly feigning illness.

They later rushed her to the hospital after much persuasion.

Unfortunately, she passed away.

Her family has threatened to sue the institution should it be determined that the school’s inaction contributed to her death.

Akim Swedru Senior High School (AKISS) incident

In the same month of February, a 19-year-old student at Akim Swedru Senior High School, Kester Vadje, died after complaining of ill health.

The student reportedly went to the housemaster and requested an exeat since he was ill.

However, the housemaster told him he did not look like a sick person and denied him the exeat.

After several failed attempts to get the exeat, he called his father, who went to the school to get him.

The father rushed Kester to the hospital but the facility could not treat him.

Medical officers transferred him to the Akwatia St. Dominic Hospital.

He, however, died some hours after he was admitted to the facility.

The family is blaming the school for the death of their son.

They insist that if the school had given Kester the exeat on time, he would have survived.

Kalpohin Senior High School incident

On February 18, 2024, a 17-year-old student at Kalpohin Senior High School tragically passed away.

He was supposed to be taken to the hospital by his fellow students after receiving permission from the senior housemaster.

Moses Baffoe, who lives in Tamale, saw the sick student vomiting at the school’s entrance while he was going home.

Baffoe tried twice to get the senior housemaster’s attention to help the student, but his attempts were unsuccessful.

On the third attempt, the housemaster eventually reached the school entrance, but by that time, the student had already been taken to the Tamale Teaching Hospital for medical care.

Subsequently, Mr. Baffoe reported the senior housemaster to the police for negligence, upon learning that the student had lost his life before reaching the hospital.

St Monica’s Senior High School incident

In May 2023, Patience Amanyi complained of a headache and asked for an exeat to go to the hospital because the school infirmary was closed. The exeat was granted and Patience went to the Mampong General Hospital on May 13, 2023.

When Patience returned from the hospital, the housemistress refused to accept the exeat form because it had not been signed by the hospital.

The house mistress reportedly told the board that she thought Patience would return to the hospital to have the exeat form signed.

Two days after going to the hospital, Patience could not stay in the dormitory and had to be carried to classes.

On May 15, one of her teachers noted in class that she was very sick and asked her to return to the hospital.

Patience then went for another exeat on Tuesday, May 16, from the second housemistress.

Reports suggest that the house mistress did not even see Patience but gave the exeat to the Prefect accompanying Patience to the hospital through the window because she (the housemistress) was busy.

At the hospital, the students called the housemistress to let her know Patience’s case was serious.

The housemistress then informed the Senior Housemistress who also called the Assistant Head for Domestic to go to the hospital.

They were at the hospital till Patience was declared dead around 9:30 pm that same day.

The doctor’s diagnosis stated “Hypoglycaemia, Acute infective gastroenteritis with severe dehydration complicated by shock, Cerebral malaria with focal seizures.”

The doctor also indicated that Patience came in, comatose.

The board of the school subsequently recommended a reshuffle of the housemistresses of the school.

Afia Kobi Senior High School incident

In February 2013, a final-year student of Afia Kobi Senior High School at Taabuom in the Atwima Kwanwoma District of Ashanti Region died under bizarre circumstances.

Sensing foul play, the family of the deceased, Rose Jackson, an Arts student, reported the matter to the police for further investigation.

Rose Jackson, 18, reportedly complained bitterly of stomach ailments on Monday (February 25, 2013) immediately after leaving the dining hall with other students of the school.

The school authorities, according to reports, rushed Rose to a clinic at Taabuom for medical care around 6 pm.

Rose’s condition rapidly deteriorated around 2:30 am on Tuesday so the school authorities rushed her to Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital in Kumasi for further treatment.

Sadly, Rose gave up the ghost when she was receiving treatment at the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital, a few hours after arrival at the medical facility.

The family is up in arms against the school authorities whom they accused of gross ineptitude which led to the demise of Rose.

They point out that the school failed to inform the family immediately after Rose fell sick, though their place of abode, Atwima Borkor, is just a few kilometers from the school.

They were only told on Tuesday, the same day she died.

Ada Senior High School incident

In November 2023, two students of Ada Senior High School drowned in the Volta River.

Reports suggest that the students went to the riverside to have a quick bath and wash their uniforms because the taps had run dry.

According to the Assembly Member of the area, Moses Wusah, the taps had not been running for some time, compelling students and the school to resort to the river.

It is difficult for the family who wonder whether to blame the school, Ghana Water Company Limited, or the system itself.

Agona Senior Technical School incident

In February 2017, a student of Agona Senior Technical School in the Ashanti region died instantly following an accident that occurred at Manponteng.

The student reportedly fell off a bus which was conveying a group of students of the school to an interschool competition being held at the Baba Yara sports stadium.

About two vehicles on top speed behind the school bus ran over his body leaving him dead on the spot with the body scattered beyond recognition.

The family is still in shock even after several years. They ask, “Should we blame the driver, the school, the two drivers of top speed, the system, or a higher power?”

Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) Senior High School incident

In July 2020, a final-year student of KNUST SHS died after a short illness.

The deceased, Samuel Leonard, complained of excruciating stomach pains after school lunch at about 2.30 pm on Monday, July 6, 2020, and was sent to the dormitory to relax.

Not long after that, the pain became more severe.

However, the students alleged that their deceased mate was abandoned by school authorities for close to about three hours until his father was invited to take him to the hospital where he died.

The authorities distanced themselves from the deceased for fear that he might have contracted COVID-19.

The headmistress of the school, Felicia Asamoah Dankwaa, was subsequently interdicted by the Ghana Education Service (GES).

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