Opinion: This Extra Burden


One of the issues raised by the Minister of Education in his presentation to the media at last Wednesday’s Meet the Press series was the ‘Offering’ or ‘Collection’ extracted from pupils and students during school church services.

The Minister brought up the issue in order to make known the government’s decision about it. And the decision is final: the act is illegal and is therefore banned. What this means is that with immediate effect, no school should take ‘Offering’ or ‘Collection’ from students during church service.

Since the Minister’s revelation, we have checked from a few schools and it has been confirmed, much to our consternation. We had not imagined that it would ever enter any school manager’s fertile imagination to “make extra cedis” from the pupils and students in the name of God!

What did the school authorities need the money for? This is a rhetorical question, of course, but it begs asking since in senior high schools these days, there is nothing the boarding student uses or enjoys on campus that is not on the bill. Parents are compelled to cough out hundreds of cedis for ‘Bed User Fee’; ‘Generating Plant’, ‘Furniture’ and even ‘AMA Levy’. The list is almost inexhaustible; it is a tall one.

One would have thought that after emptying the home coffers, the authorities would hands-off the little “chop money” squeezed out of stone for the child to attend to emergencies. If the child drops even a two cedi coin in the offering/collection bowl every Sunday (we do not know which other days or occasions!), these little drops of water certainly add-up to a mighty ocean.

One of the school managers we spoke to, argued that what she calls the “small offering” from the students is a way of “training the child the way he should go, and when he (she) grows, they would not depart from it”; and that it is part of the child’s spiritual training.

What is being overlooked is that offering is not taken into consideration in giving “chop money” to the child. Coercing the child (or cajoling – or both) with all manner of exhortations to drop in a coin is robbery. The child does not earn an income!

It is not too hard to imagine how hard some children would strive to put in something, lest he becomes a laughing stock. We all know children: the group effect works on their impressionable minds: a child would feel bad that he/she “alone” is never able to put in an offering. Soon, the pressure passes on to the overburdened parents who, for all anyone knows, may themselves be so hard up they are unable to afford an offering/collection in their own churches.

Once again, we ask: what more do the school authorities want from parents?

Source: The Ghanaian Times