Wednesday, 21 August 2013

THE PRESSURES OF WASSCE; the story of Master Samuel Kwame Kissi

The WASSCE results were released earlier this month and I felt the customary-tension such results releases have on the individual even though I wrote mine way back in 2008.

I have yet to meet a SHS graduate who didn’t feel the pressures of this pivotal moment in one’s life and make no bones about it, it’s very crucial. It is also very true that what you accomplish in your youth goes a long way to determining what you will be in the future.

It is the period where life really starts depending on the grades you get. Some might think I am being melodramatic but the final year in SHS is very stressful for everyone that has been through it.

I recall listening to the news with my mother when it was announced that a final year SHS student had taken their own life and she asked which kind of pressures that students face that could lead them to taking their own life. I didn’t speak up because I didn’t want to scare her but it’s a very pressuring feeling knowing that 8 papers and how well you do in them could lead to what kind of future you will have.  

In this country, we are conditioned with the mantra of “go to school, learn hard and find a good job”. It is also very rare that you meet successful people in Ghana who didn’t pass those 8 papers very well (passing and passing very well are very different things). But as Ghana waits for her first Bill Gates the fact is, of my mates who didn’t pass those papers and are very successful now, most are engaged in cyber fraud a.k.a. Sakawa.

The late Samuel Kwame Kissi (who offered science like me) , formerly of my alma mater St Thomas Aquinas SHS passed his exams but didn’t pass them very well because he wanted to pursue Medicine and got the respectable grade of aggregate 17 (which included an A1 in Integrated Science and C4 in Biology). This may have led to Kwame Kissi taking his own life.

According to the Headmaster of Aquinas, Kwame was an average-student who did better in the WASSCE than he did in both mocks before the exam but the entry requirements meant he had no chance of pursuing Medicine especially given the admission pressures on Universities this year.

Kwame according to his housemaster was a humble student who could not bypass a teacher without offering a greeting. I don’t want to blame anybody but was he made aware that he could write a remedial and with a little effort still pursue his dream. Or was it that maybe he couldn’t deal with those conversations that those of us who don’t make it the first time have to endure with mates, conversations about varsity life where they all contribute with campus stories of their own and you feel left out because you have no such stories.

At this point all I can do is speculate and as Kwame's mother declined comment we cannot get an insight into his life at home. Given that the incident occurred whiles he was not in school, no definite conclusions can be drawn.  
my 3Sc2 class of 2008

Yes, there were counsellors when I attended Aquinas but I never felt like I could go and discuss such issues with them or my friends (through no fault of theirs obviously). It’s also not very encouraging when some teachers take it upon themselves to be prophets of doom by telling stories like “how in the future you might see your own mates and hide depending on how well you do”. I suppose such teachers can find better ways of motivating students than scaring them into submission.

I am at the end of this piece but I don’t know how to end, if anyone wrote an exam and is feeling down about his/her grades all I can say is; LIFE IS NOT A RACE COS IF IT WERE WE WOULD ALL HAVE BEEN BORN ON THE SAME DAY.
Written with extracts from an interview on Peace FM on the 20th of August 2013 at 12:00p.m.

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