18 May 2011 – Vetting

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This evening we vetted the candidates for the prefectorial elections. Prefects are school leaders. There are various areas of leadership like the dining hall, the compound(or grounds), entertainment, and then the heads of the prefects the senior prefects. There is a male and a female for each position and then also an assistant for each position. These are elected positions but the candidates are screened or vetted before they are allowed to run. This is the way elections in Ghana are also held so this is a practical lesson in Ghanaian democracy.

The Headmaster, Senior Housemaster, Senior House Mistress, a representative from the teachers and me, a volunteer representative. We rated them on appearance, composure,verbal expression, knowledge and self confidence each aspect was worth 10 points. If the candidates earned an average of 25 pts or higher they were allowed to run for office. Although during the vetting the students were challenged that they didn’t follow the school rules they were not rated on this. Our headmaster once had a teacher who had faith in him, even though he didn’t follow all the rules, so this was applied to our vetting procedure as well.

The candidates were very different from American children. When they entered the room they greeted us, very quietly, then most waited until they were offered a seat.  After they were seated most waited with lowered eyes for the questions. Most had to be told more than once they needed to speak up so we could hear them.

The first candidate we interviewed, Vincent, surprised me. He was running for Senior prefect In class he is outspoken, often answering without being called on and eager to help other students in the lab. Here he set the pace for shy and quiet responses. He answered most of our questions with one sentence even when given a softball question – Tell us about yourself- he had very little to say.

My final score for him was 10 pts less than three of the other panel members.

Later on a boy, running for Dining Hall Prefect, came who looked us in they eyes while he waited for questions, spoke loudly as he answered the questions and said he wanted to be a doctor when asked his future plans. I scored him 10 pts higher then two of the other masters.

My cultural biases came through here. In Ghana respect, show by the lowered eyes, and humility, shown by not talking too much about your self are valued highly, even when going for a leadership position.

I am not sure all their shyness had to do with respect and humility because when i helped to vet the prefectorial candidates in Sandema the students were more outgoing. These JHS students are younger, self confidence usually grows from JHS to SHS. They High School students had a better command of the English language so spent less time understanding our questions and forming their answers.

Now that they have been vetted they will start their campaigns.


The photos in this post were taken after the fact. The head master saw me taking photos of the campaign posters and was so excited when I told him about blogging that he set up a mock vetting so I could also have photos of that.


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