A renowned legal practitioner who has led thousands of students to victory at the Human right Court is cautioning against abuse of power especially by school authorities against students.
He is also urging students to seek interpretation of the law either from lawyers or from courts in cases where rights violations are suspected.
Reacting to a story in which a former student of the Keta Senior High School was denied his transcript on allegations of misconduct, Garry Nimako Marfo said the basis for the refusal was flawed and unconstitutional.
A former senior prefect of the Keta Senior High School Cyril Vigbedor completed school in 2014; he returned to the school for his transcript but was denied without any tangible reasons being offered.
In his first year, an award was conferred on Cyril by the president of the republic of Ghana. The President’s awards took him to America for short-term studies. But Cyril’s quest to pursue further studies suffered a jolt when Keta SHS engaged in a tussle with him over his transcript.
Garry Nimako Marfo
He was told in point blank to “go away” when he went to the assistant headmistress’ office to pursue his transcript.
“When I got to her office, the first thing that she said was…she doesn’t even recognize me as a student of the school” this was before Cyril could even discuss his reason for going back to school.
But lawyer Garry Nimako argued that whether or not he was known to the headmistress it is a wrong basis for the denial.
“Academic transcript is always a performance of a person’s educational profiling…the person is entitled to it,” Garry noted. He said this is a matter of right and “the question of knowing the student or not knowing the student cannot be a conditioned precedent for releasing the transcript.”
Numerous attempts by concerned parties could not secure him his transcripts from the school. His father Gershon Vigbedor, a physically challenged teacher at the Monome DA basic school travelled miles to and from Keta Senior High to follow up on his son’s transcripts.
He had on many occasions waited several hours on campus in hunger, craving to be granted audience by school authorities
Cyril’s father has kept a list of the number of times he has followed up with the school authorities. For him, it has been a distressful three-month period unjustly imposed on the family.
Our attempts to verify the various information available to us were unsuccessful; sometimes confrontational. First, the headmaster D.K Sedanu Kwawo would not speak on record and so did all other officials involved in the matter.
Speaking generally, Lawyer Nimako maintained that prevention of students from partaking in examinations for non-payment of school fees, normally done to enable institutions to retrieve monies due them, is not constitutionally justifiable.
At the long run, Cyril had his transcript but not without a written apology with a copy displayed on his file. A copy of the apology letter was sent to the assistant headmistress who had disowned Cyril but she once again rejected the letter. He was forced to render an apology before the entire school at one of the school’s assemblies and to admit he was a bad example as a senior prefect.
But Mr. Nimako sounded a word of caution to duty bearers to carry out their duties with utmost respect of the constitution. To make this call more effective, he advocates persons should gather courage to seek interpretation of the law on suspicions of violations of abuse since that is the only way to keep those in authority on their toes and to deepen the constitutional rule chosen by the country.
“There is an obligation on you to ensure that the rules of natural justice are brought to bear on the work that you do,” he said.
“I think we have to get serious in this country…Somebody showing respect to you is a question of morality it’s not a question of law…the question of morality does not arise when it comes to demands of your right to education. You must show respect but the question of morality is a different matter altogether,” he stressed.
According to Cyril, the back and forth caused him to miss out on some deadlines and also experienced some emotional downturns.
In his SAT exam scores, Cyril made 2000 out of 2400.
To the millions of students out there, the message is, strictly adhere to the rules and regulations in your various campuses but do not hesitate to get legal aid when all attempts of negotiations fail and violation of rights can be established.
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