Story: Hadiza Nuhhu-Billa Quansah
When one has stayed at home for almost six months after one’s Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE), one becomes used to sleeping or doing things at his or her own pace. Then, suddenly, that person is admitted to a day senior high school (SHS), the alarm bells announcing that the first day of school can be a rude awakening.
Whether you are an anxious fresh student or a confident senior, heading back to school signals a transition: New classes, new teachers, new schedules and a new social scene.
A day school, as opposed to a boarding school, is an institution where students are taught during the day, after which they return to their homes. Dread it or love it, you have to tune your body and mind in order to adjust to the system of waking up early to avoid the long queues at the trotro stations or taxi ranks to get to school before the bell goes for morning assembly.
Most students, especially those in the boarding house, have the perception that their mates in the day schools enjoy school more than them, simply because they are always with their parents, eat home chow (food) and also escape being punished or homoed by seniors.
What these boarders seem to forget is that day students cannot run away from house chores.
Much as this perception is true, to some extent, students in the day schools admit that it is not all that rosy as their boarding school counterparts believe.
The Junior Graphic visited the St Thomas Aquinas SHS, Salem SHS, Presbyterian SHS, Osu (PRESEC Osu), Holy Trinity SHS (HOTCASS) and O’Reilly SHS (O’Reilly), all day schools in the Accra metropolis, to interact with the students.
Interestingly, all the students had similar stories to share as day students. There are two categories of students in each of these schools. There are those who really selected those schools as their first choice because they live within or close to the schools, and those who find themselves in those schools by default and have to travel far to attend school.
For those who live a few kilometres from the school, all they do is wake up by 5:30 a.m., wash down and walk to school, while those from places such as Madina, Dansoman, Sakumono, Adenta and even Tema have to leave home as early as 4 a.m. to avoid being late to school.
Some of the students disclosed that they had to wake up early in the morning to search for water, sweep their compound, wash the family dishes before taking their bath. Others have to clean their parents’ cars or iron their clothes before setting off.
In almost all the schools, there is a standard duty roster indicating when each student is supposed to sweep the classroom and clean the chairs and tables before morning assembly. Just like students in the boarding house, those in the day schools weed their compound, except those in schools such as HOTCASS, O’Reilly and Salem which do not have enough fallow land.
General cleaning is always top on the school agenda. Students are supposed to clean all the chairs, tables, change dusters and markers. For schools which do not have white boards, students have to find old batteries, open them up and use the black substance in them to paint the blackboard to give it a new look.
Entertainment and inter-club activities are on top of the list of day students. They organise film shows, rap contests, drama festivals and variety shows. The Aquinas students said they host the Tom Festival, during which they invite other schools to come and participate in the Azonto competition (latest dance on campus), crackings and other dance moves.
At PRESEC Osu and O’Reilly, most Fridays are happy days, as classes end earlier for students to prepare and jam immediately after classes till 5 p.m. The latest time for the entertainment curtain to be pulled down is 6 p.m. According to the Assistant School Prefect of PRESEC Osu, Isaac Kofi Annan, such moments are the best for all students. as there is less supervision by teachers and students are at liberty to have fun to the max.
Unfortunately, after all the fun, students have no option but walk as far as the Nkrumah Circle trotro station or the 37 trotro station to catch buses home to face their house chores.