Pupils at Adwenso Roman Catholic Junior High School of the Upper Manya Krobo District of the Eastern Region crowd on desks in an uncompleted school structure to study.
The situation has resulted in disregard for Covid-19 protocols, whereas enrollment and attendance to the school has as well dipped.
The Adwenso Roman Catholic Junior High School was established in 1973 through community effort and absorbed by government years later.
It serves as a continuing point for three basic schools in the Catchment area, Nyarkumase Primary, Adwenso Dorhae Presbyterian Primary and Dawatrim Primary School .But it is challenged with infrastructural deficit and furniture constraint.
Since the collapse of the mud classroom block in 2016 after heavy rains, the school resorted to using the uncompleted three classroom, stalled since 2015.
With shattered hope, they still use the uncompleted classroom, which leaks when it rains, and has no windows or doors, exposing students and teachers to various security threats.”We had to use the uncompleted three-unit building because we have nowhere to teach the pupils since 2015 when the old mud facility collapsed, but we suffer when it rains.“The roof work is not completed so it leaks when it rains and we are forced to quickly end lessons,” headmaster of the school, Rev.Aaron Tetteh, in an interview said.
He explained that when school is not in session on weekends, unidentified people in the community use the classrooms destroying some of the mono desks for the pupils. The unidentified community members also smoke cigarettes and Indian hemp and leave the residues in the classrooms. “The pupils have to sweep pieces of cigarettes and Indian hemp every Monday when a new week begins and this can affect them psychologically.”
In the uncompleted school building, pupils sit in threes on dual desks while others sit in twos on a mono desk, a situation that does not help adherence to Covid-19 protocols and healthy teaching and learning. “As for social distancing, we don’t practise it at all as we have just 12 desks left for the entire school now,” Rev Tetteh lamented.
In the absence of mono desks for the pupils, plastic chairs are borrowed from a nearby Catholic Church for use ,but that even deters pupils because they would have to put their books on their laps to write notes.“We go to borrow plastic chairs from the Catholic Church for the pupils to use and when we mistakenly break it, we must pay for it. Pupils don’t like using them and because of that, the pupils would not come to school if they knew they won’t get desks to sit on.
Enrollment for the Adwenso R/C Junior High School has dipped from 85 to 63 presently, because of the infrastructural woes. “We need the contractor to return to site urgently to finish the work,” The headmaster, Rev Tetteh said.
The School Management Committee Chairman Mohammed Abu Awal, pleaded with government to ensure the project is completed soon, “We need our children to stay in school and learn, so government should come to our aid.”
The traditional head of the Adwenso community Dademantse Paul Kwesi Tetteh, was disappointment that the promised made as not fully be fulfilled. “We were promised in 2012 by government initiated action only for work to halt in 2015.”
The Adwenso community has a subsistence farming populace, mostly aged, who are unable to make ends meet.
Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4, which talks about quality education has three components – Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and Promote Lifelong learning Opportunities by 2030.
Quality Education as spelt out can be delivered by good teachers enabled by good tracking and learning processes facilitated by a conducive atmosphere.
While pupils endure studying in the uncompleted school block, teachers battle with snakes in the old mud thatch building, which they converted into a teachers’ bungalow.
“We have to kill snakes in the room, four of us share anytime we return from weekends. It’s frightening and terrible.”
The Upper Manya District Chief Executive, Felix Nartey Odjao, when contacted, explained that the stalled facility was awarded to a contractor under the GETFund project.
He can only report to the GETFund Office in Accra for them to chase the contractor to site, a situation which may see work completed by close of the year.”It would take a lot of chasing.We may get to the close of the year before we would be sure the contractor would return to site.”
DCE Felix Nartey Odjao pointed out that other resources cannot be used to complete the project.
“These things you have to be careful how you spend other sources of fund on it. It is normally not allowed like that. You have to make every effort when you are unable to succeed you report appropriately to GETFund.”
Article 28 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child says that; children and young people must have the right to education no matter who they are: regardless of race, gender or disability; if they’re in detention, or if they’re a refugee.
Again, it’s says children and young people have the right to both primary and secondary education and should be able to choose different subjects when in secondary school. This should include the option of technical and vocational training, so they shouldn’t have to focus on academic subjects if they don’t want to.
Unfortunately, the rights of the children of Adwenso R/C Junior High School to have access the primary education might be a mirage and they would not be able to live their potentials if government does not intervene to provide them with a decent facility and a conducive environment for learning. Every child has the right to learn
All children have the right to go to school and learn, regardless of who they are, where they live.
All the need is the quality learning and that requires a safe, friendly environment, qualified and motivated teachers, and these should not be denied the pupils of Adwenso Roman Catholic Junior High School.
By Yvonne Neequaye
The writer is a mentee under the JHR/GJA Mentorship Programme