When your parent is the head in your institution: benefits, challenges and ‘conflicts of interest’

Saturday, May 14, 2022.

I attended T. I. Ahmadiyya Secondary School, Kumasi, from 1985 to 1990 when I took the O level examination. Then I went to Presbyterian Boys’ Secondary School (Presec), Legon for my sixth form (1990 to 1992). It was a ‘tale of two cities’ for me. Based only on the final results, I did well academically in Amass but did better in Presec. But that is not why I write this piece.

In T. I. Amass, my father was the headmaster when I was there. It was both pleasant and unpleasant. Pleasant because the headmaster himself followed your progress directly. It however put a certain pressure on you. When everybody in the school didn’t feel like going to the dining hall to eat a particular food, I was expected to go and eat it. It went beyond that. Some people would cast insinuations on everything you did. When you did well in class, to them, it was because your father was headmaster. I remember committing a foul once on a player in a football match. It was a bad tackle. He got up, came to me angrily and said: “You think you can do anything you want because your father is the headmaster?”
I was amazed.

So I enjoyed myself more in Presec as an ‘ordinary student’. I wonder what people would have said about my grades (which won me a West African Examination Council award in 1992) if my father was the headmaster of Presec.

To those who have to be in the same institutions as their parents, I know how it feels. If your father is the president of the country, can you ever justify yourself that you qualify fairly for an award? In our part of the world, this may be difficult. Would your parent give you an unfair advantage over others, and would you accept it?

Fortunately, I do not think my daughter or son will be in the same institution I head. I do not think I have the kind of ‘balance’ my father had. I might end up being too hard on them if it happens.

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