The case of sexual harassment seems to have become endemic in Ghana’s educational system with some female students expressing outrage at the extent to which most teachers or lecturers demand sexual favours in exchange for, at best, good grades and at worst mere sexual satisfaction.
It is an open secret that this is the situation in the country’s tertiary institutions but there is a strong indication that the canker has found its way into the second cycle institutions.
According to a student in one of the popular senior high schools in Accra who only identified herself as Maame, the modus operandi of the teachers is to corner them when no one is watching and insist on touching their breasts or other very private parts.
She said, “one teacher sent me to buy food for him and when I brought it, he touched my buttocks.”
When asked why she did not report the incident to the school authorities, she said the teacher would have denied ever touching her and would also embarrass her.
“A teacher went to the extent of forcing a female student to sit in the first row in order to see her breast,” a male student revealed during the interview.
He added that the girl decided to sit in the back row during a subsequent class but the said teacher reprimanded her and asked her to join her female colleagues in the front row.
When the girl reported the case to the Students Representative Council (SRC), the executives advised her to wear a sweater on her uniform, but that same teacher made her take it off with the excuse that it was not a recommended school attire.
Interestingly, a teacher in an interview with myjoyonline.com said he was shocked when an aspiring Girls’ Prefect, during her vetting, revealed that she was a victim to sexual harassment from a male teacher, and she would like to use the position to stop such acts.
He added, “I know the counsellor took it up but I do not know what came of it, myself, I tried to get information from the girl but she declined.”
In situations where these girls are brave enough to reject the offer, they are vilified and ridiculed in front of their peers as a sublime punishment. The harsh penalty for the unlucky ones on the other hand is a poor mark in a class test or an exam.
A few of the young ladies gather courage to discuss the issue among themselves but find it virtually impossible to utter a word about it to school authorities due simply to fear of intimidation.
Further interviews with some of the young ladies revealed that these teachers go to the extent of pestering students into having romantic relationships with them against their will.
One of them explained that some teachers take advantage of students who are academically weak and lure them into accepting their advances in order to help them in their studies.
At a time when the country is grappling with incessant demands from teachers, it is vital to examine the profession and weed out the sexual predators who are threatening the gains made in girl child education.
Some students who spoke to myjoyonline.com in confidence want the Ghana Education Service and school authorities to protect them from the prying eyes of some of the male teachers.
They say students should be given enough opportunities to voice out their problems to school councillors and psychologists while stricter sanctions should be meted out to teachers who cannot keep their zips up.
Story by Evelyn Avevor Afi and Barbara Zipporah Ayiku /Myjoyonline.com/Ghana
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