Pressure is being mounted on the Ghana Education Service (GES) to speak on the death of the student of Aburi Girls Senior High School.
Executive Secretary of the Africa Education Watch (Eduwacth), Mr Kofi Asare said that GES must make a pronouncement on this matter.
“Has the GES not issued a statement on the reported death in school of the SHS 1 Aburi Girls student? Sources indicate the girl was sick for days, kept in school till her parents arrived from Ablekuma to take her to a hospital located minutes away from the school.
According to the hospital, she was Brought In Dead. Why did the school authorities keep her in school till she ‘died’? Is it standard practice for school authorities to call parents to travel and go carry their sick wards to hospital when one is located minutes away?
What is the use of the mandatory NHIS Card for student? Ghana Education Service must pronounce on this matter immediately,” He wrote on Facebook.
TV3’s Judith Brown reports that the family of a 16-year-old student who died on Sunday is demanding independent investigations into the circumstances that caused her death.
Stacy Okyere, a Form 1 student, who was admitted to the school only a month ago, died on February 4.
The family says the inaction of the school caused the death of their daughter.
“The school has killed my child”, father of Miss Okyere, Kingsley Okyere told 3News in an exclusive interview.
This accusation has been denied by a highly placed source from Aburi Girls Senior High School. The source said, the young lady did not die in the school.
Nevertheless, Kingsley Okyere says his daughter who is also his first child had no underlining condition and wants the school to provide a more detailed explanation of the circumstances leading to her death.
Distraught and visibly angry, he says the school should have taken his daughter as a first measure to the hospital, but claims they demanded he arrives from home to do that himself.
“I received a call at 8pm on Sunday 4th February from my daughter’s housemistress. She asked me to come and pick my daughter up to the hospital, because she was sick. I even felt it was too late, but I still decided to go. On my way the woman kept calling almost every two minutes, I was even angry because I expected her to at least send my daughter to the hospital first before calling me”, he told our news team.
“I used 34 minutes from Ablekuma to Aburi girls. I was driving at top speed and was even stopped by the police who later understood it was an emergency.”
Mr. Okyere says his checks show his daughter reported ill at 12 p.m. but when he arrived at the school and specifically, at the Edinburg House in the school, he witnessed a scene that shocked him.
“When I got to the school my daughter was lying on the floor and her mates had surrounded her. She was unconscious, meanwhile the housemistress was sitting on a chair in another room. My wife started screaming and crying. I was so shocked at what I saw that I became weak all of a sudden”, he said.
As devastated as he was, Mr. Okyere says he quickly rushed his daughter to the Tetteh Quarshie Memorial hospital in Mampong, in hopes they might save her.
“I carried my daughter from the floor and rushed to the car. My friend drove us to Tetteh Quarshie memorial hospital at Mampong and while we were in the car, I kept blowing air through my daughter’s mouth to try and keep her alive.”
But Kingsley Okyere soon realised, it was too late. “When we got to Mampong I carried her on my back, and when the doctors saw her, they knew she was already gone. They didn’t even know how to tell me, so they kept sending me around to go and take a card for her and make other arrangements. And when I returned, they finally told me she had died before we even got to the hospital. I was devastated.”
Staff at the hospital confirmed to our team that Stacy Okyere was indeed dead-on arrival.
The news had come as a shock to her entire family, who say Stacy never had any underlying disease.
“My daughter has no health issue. You can even make enquiries at her former school they will tell you that she rarely gets sick”, Mr. Okyere insist.
“The school has killed my child and when the issue happened, they had the guts to sit me down and tell me they will buy the coffin and provide an ambulance. If I didn’t have money, would I have brought my child to school in the first place?”
The Executive Director of Africa Education Watch Kofi Asare said the incident as narrated by the family highlights “symptoms of weak health and safety facilities and protocols in our schools.”
“The health facilities and protocols are nonexistent in many schools. Many schools don’t have resident nurses, first aid drugs are a luxury and there is no documented guidelines from GES on how to manage health issues”, he told 3news.com in a separate interview.
While there is no existing protocol, Asare says the practice about how to deal with sick students has always been standard.
“When a student reports sick, the complaint gets to the health prefect, housemaster or mistress and then the student would be referred to the sick bay where first aid is provided and then an advice is provided on whether they go home or are sent to the hospital,” he explained.
“Based on the gravity of the situation, the student would be taken to hospital by the school after which parents are informed. That is why it is a requirement every child must have a functioning NHIS card which is a condition precedent to admission.
“You don’t call a parent to take their sick ward to school You call them to inform them you have taken their sick ward to hospital”, he added.
Mr. Okyere is particularly upset that the school did not find it necessary to take his daughter to the hospital.
“I asked the housemistress why the school took health insurance when my girl was enrolled. Because she wouldn’t have been admitted without it. So, what is the use of that health insurance? And why couldn’t this woman send my child to the hospital at least. So, if I was at Bole Bamboi, I would have to drive all the way to Aburi Girls just to pick my daughter to the hospital?”
Efforts to get the school’s side of the story proved futile. The Assistant Headmaster referred us to the Headmistress who did not grant an interview after the team had waited for over three hours. The school’s authorities said the Headmistress was unavailable.
Meanwhile, it has emerged that parents of students at the school, have had major concerns about health care in the school. This became an agenda item at one of the Parents Association meetings at which they raised concerns over how the huge student population “has caused considerable stress on the limited resources of the school clinic and the school clinic has run out of medication and is currently forced to refer most cases to the hospital.”
Crucially, the parents complained that the school needs additional nurses.
By Laud Narrey with additional files from Judith Brown