From Samuel Agbewode
The North Tongu District Chief Executive (DCE), Mr. Collins Arku, says he has personally initiated a move to attract non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to support in the development of the district, since government resources were not enough to carry out all the desires of the people.
Mr. Arku, was speaking at a sod-cutting ceremony for the construction of a six-unit classroom block, store and an office for the D/A ARS Primary School at Battor-Zomayi in the North Tongu District.
The project is being undertaken by Pencils of Promise, one of the NGOs the DCE attracted to the District to assist the Assembly in providing modern classroom blocks for the area.
The DCE continued that the project, which has 20 percent community participation, ensures that the community would provide sand and stone and labour, while Pencils of Promise would provide other building materials as well as artisans.
But the North Tongu District Assembly, he said, has taken over the provision of sand and stones, because the project would delay if the community was left alone to provide the materials due to the high level of poverty in the area.
According to Mr. Arku, the current classroom blocks being used served as a disincentive to pupils to attend school, because it looks so humiliating and scares the pupils due to its condition.
He further said that the type of school buildings being used at Battor-Zomayi was not the best, and that similar structures had been identified all over the district to be replaced.
Mr. Arku assured the chiefs and people in the North Tongu District of the government’s determination to help bring the needed development to them.
He said, so far, a number of poor school infrastructure had been identified, and with the presence of Pencils of Promise in the area, modern classrooms would be provided to help attract children of school going age to be in school.
H also revealed that efforts would also be made to establish a Junior High School (JHS) at Battor–Zomayi to prevent pupils from walking many kilometres to have access to JHS education.
Mr. Arku also cautioned parents who allowed their children of school going age to engage in the cowherding to stop, because it would not help the child to have a bright future.
Because after serving a period of four years as cowherds they would be given one cow as payment, and they are not willing to enroll in Class One, since they would be older than their colleagues, therefore, they would not go to school at all.
The Chief Executive of Pencils of Promise, Madam Tanyah, who was in Ghana for the first time, saids he was satisfied with the activities of her organisation, which was trying to address the global educational needs of the less-privileged.
The Country Director of Pencils of Promise, Mr. Freeman Gobah, said his organisation has operated in 20 districts in the Volta and Eastern regions over the years, and provided one hundred and twenty-nine modern classrooms for schools in the beneficiary communities.
He expressed the hope that the chiefs and people of Battor Zomayi would play their part to ensure the early completion of the project.
Mr. Gobah said the presence of his organisation in the North Tongu District had exposed the difficulties children go through to access basic education, and called on the people to play their roles more effectively, because the work of the NGO should be seen as a collaborative effort, and that the community should show commitment to the project which would be completed within six months.
He said experience gathered so far showed that some communities failed to provide communal labour, sand and stones as their contributions to the project, and when it happens that way, the organisation has no alternative than to pack and leave the community, and commended the chiefs and people of Battor-Zomayi for the high communal spirit exhibited so far.
The North Tongu District Officer in charge of Monitory and Supervision of the Ghana Education Service (GES), Mr. E.K. Agbeti, said teachers in the district had demonstrated commitment to work over the years by staying in such communities with poor classroom infrastructure to teach, and called on the community members to support such teachers.
Mr. Agbeti said it was unfortunate that some community members would physically assault teachers in the discharge of their duties, and cautioned against the negative development, stressing on the need for them to address any misunderstandings between them and teachers in the district with the chiefs and local authorities of education such as the school management committees.
The Monitory and Supervising Officer of the GES in the North Tongu District also advised the Battor-Zomayi community not to engage in negative practices, as was being experienced in some schools in the district, as some members of the community had turned classrooms into their toilets, which, he said, did not only affect effective teaching and learning, but discouraged pupils from going to school.
The Chief of Battor-Zomayi, Togbe Bugali Gborgla III, thanked the North Tongu DCE and the New Patriotic Party (NPP) government for the project, saying the community had received hundreds of promises from politicians over the years, and any time the party comes into government the promise to build modern classroom for them would be left out, but the community was surprised that the NPP government, through the DCE, started to build new classrooms for them even though the ruling party did not make such promises during the electioneering campaign.
Togbe Bugali Gborgla also thanked the President, Nana Akufo-Addo, for giving the District a Chief Executive who is dynamic and appealed to the government to also construct the road to the community, as well as to provide the people with potable water.
The Headteacher of the Battor-Zomayi D/A ARS Basic Schools, Mr. Vincent Kadogbe, disclosed that the school, with total population of 220 pupils, has to be closed down anytime the rain threatens, which affects effective teaching and learning, and commended the DCE for the project and hoped, when completed, would help improve the academic performance of the pupils.
Mr. Kadogbe explained that even though teachers in the school were committed to their work, there was nothing that they could do about the poor classroom infrastructure, adding that as the country would be entering the rain season soon, the school would be closed down as often as it rains until the new classroom block is completed.