General News of Thursday, 22 November 2012
Source: Daily Guide
IT IS fast unfolding that claims by the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) that it has eliminated 1,700 schools under trees, as captured in the party’s much-discredited ‘Green Book’, are exaggerated myths throughout the country.
Information available to DAILY GUIDE indicates that some of the schools purportedly built by the NDC administration under the schools-under-trees programme were either constructed during the erstwhile New Patriotic Party (NPP) regime, by NGOs, churches; or they were not even schools under trees as tagged.
For instance, Amoamang Methodist Primary in the Nsuta-Kwamang Beposo in the Sekyere Central District in the Ashanti Region listed in NDC’s Green Book was not a school under any tree.
According to the NDC, “schools under trees” were areas where trees were used as shelter for teaching and learning.
However, speaking to DAILY GUIDE in a telephone conversation on Tuesday, Deputy Minister of Information Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa explained that apparently, the term “school under trees” did not mean literal schools situated under trees; they comprised schools that were merely renovated and not necessarily constructed from the scratch.
“Schools under trees are generic terms used,” he told DAILY GUIDE.
“The school under trees concept is a concept for schools in dilapidated condition-in conditions which are inhabitable. Some are under trees, some are even under sheds,” he explained.
About two weeks ago, Okudzeto Ablakwa released a list of 600 schools out of 1,700 that the NDC government claimed it had constructed. This has been dismissed as a hoax as some of the listed schools have been challenged by the owners, mostly churches.
The Danquah Institute estimates that the new schools that the NDC has actually constructed since 2009 are 400 and not the 1,700 it has trumpeted all along.
Even though he is one of the strongest advocates of the schools under trees policy, when pressed by DAILY GUIDE, Okudzeto admitted that he did not have an idea of the total cost of all the schools under trees that the NDC claimed it had removed. According to him, he would have to make a special request at the Ghana Education Trust Fund (GETFUND) to get the cost of all school buildings.
“My focus now has been to put out the 1,775, but I have not really considered the cost element,” the deputy minister told DAILY GUIDE.
These curious gaps have led critics to conclude that the whole policy was just a big hoax.
The Member of Parliament for Nsuta-Kwamang Beposo, Kwame Osei-Prempeh, told DAILY GUIDE that the six-unit classroom block at the Amoamang Methodist Primary in the Sekyere Central District that the NDC was laying claims to, was in fact constructed in 2002 by the Kufuor administration and the MP personally added a six-room teachers’ quarters to it.
Also listed in the Green Book is an existing three-classroom Kruwi Primary school in the area which was just renovated by the District Assembly.
Presby Church Protest
Just recently, Osu Presbyterian Church exposed the ruling NDC for listing Presbyterian schools that had been in existence for decades as some of the schools under trees.
The list had the Osu Presby Boys’ Primary, Osu Presby Girls’ Primary/JHS and Osu Salem ’5? Primary on it.
The church said the schools had classrooms for a very long time.
The District Minister of the Osu Ebenezer Presby Church, Reverend Dr. Nana Opare Kwakye, said government only offered to renovate the schools.
“It was an existing building, not a school under a tree. Government only helped to refurbish the building by re-roofing and changing door locks,” he told Citi FM.
Rev Kwakye added, “The Osu Presby Cluster of Schools are very old schools and most of the people in the church and community have come from that school so these are not schools under trees.”
Indeed, the immediate past Greater Accra regional minister and NDC MP for Korle Klotey, Nii Armah Ashietey, attended Osu Salem school.
More groups have continued to question the credibility of the governing NDC’s so-called schools under trees as the Abuakwa South constituency NPP has also challenged the ruling party on the unending controversy.
A statement jointly issued by Solomon Y. Adjei and Julius Okyere, Abuakwa South Constituency Chairman and Communications Officer respectively, indicated that East Akyem Municipal Assembly Schools captured by NDC’s Green Book were never “schools under trees”.
“We have noted with concern, the list of the purported basic schools ‘under trees’ eliminated by the NDC Government in the East Akyem Municipal Assembly, in the Abuakwa South Constituency of the Eastern Region. We would want to state categorically that Akim Adukrom L. A. Primary and Asikam Primary (which are the only two schools published in the list under my jurisdiction in the Abuakwa South Constituency) were never schools under trees,” the NPP officials revealed.
According to the NPP officials, NDC had only added two schools to the old ones, inviting the media to independently inspect both the old and new facilities.
They called on the NDC administration to distinguish between the normal courses of upgrading existing schools from the distinct programme of eliminating schools under trees since the old structures were definitely not trees.
“It must be noted that the only two schools mentioned as being schools under trees eliminated by government in the East Akyem Municipality are false and therefore claims of elimination of schools under trees in other districts and municipalities leaves much to be desired or may be blatant lies,” they pointed.
They asked the NDC administration to desist from lies and propaganda since they would ultimately catch up with them, urging Ghanaians to embrace the free SHS education policy of the NPP by voting out “the dishonest and incompetent NDC government”.
Mr Osei-Prempeh has described NDC as a party whose only policies are propaganda, insults and lies.
“When they (NDC) tell lies, they forget that the people are able to see through the lies. Again, NDC has a policy just to attack the good policies of the NPP so that if they get power they would copy out policies,” he said.
Reiterating the need for free SHS, Mr Osei-Prempeh pointed out that President John Mahama did not know there were many Senior High Schools in the country which were virtually empty whilst Junior High School leavers could not enter SHS because of fees.
Kwame Osei-Prempeh, who is also the Chairman of the Subsidiary Legislation Committee of Parliament, further described NDC adverts on free SHS and education in general as “lies and deception”.
He observed that whilst the NDC was promising to build 10 teacher-training colleges, all the colleges in Ghana were under enrolment because of the quota system imposed on these institutions.
For instance, Osei-Prempeh said, St. Monica’s Training College at Asante Mampong, which can admit 400 students, is allowed to take only 250.
The situation, he further pointed out, existed in all the 38 training colleges and therefore classrooms and dormitories were lying idle.
An NPP administration under the leadership of Nana Akufo-Addo, he promised, would fill all the vacancies in the training colleges to train more highly motivated teachers in the country.