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Regional News of Friday, 15 February 2019

Source: Starrfm.com.gh

Government promises relief for schoolchildren exposed to bee attacks in Bongo

The schoolchildren whose chronic exposure to bee attacks and harsh weather conditions for lack of classrooms in the Bongo District grabbed the headlines this week have received from government a response not only very quick but one that also exceeds all expectations.

The Goo-Atandaa KG/Primary School had cried for a school block, water and furniture as Starr News brought to light the plight of over 200 schoolchildren in that rural part of the Upper East region Monday afternoon.

But the District Chief Executive (DCE) of Bongo, Peter Ayinbisa Ayamga, accompanied by some assembly officials, rushed to the school early Tuesday morning and went beyond just giving a firm assurance that the school would be provided with a 9-unit classroom block.

He said all the pupils also would be given free school uniforms next week and the school would be included in the Ghana School Feeding Programme (GSFP) list this term.

“Having seen the plight of the [pupils], I have further promised to make the school a feeding school, because I’ve realised that where the school is located there is no nearby market. There is no place where the children, even if they have money, can buy food. It is better for us to link them to the School Feeding [Programme] where they would have an assured lunch every day.

“Besides, I realised the pupils were wearing a uniform that doesn’t depict the school as a government school. GES (Ghana Education Service) yesterday took delivery of some school uniforms. So, I promised that I would extend the school uniforms to these pupils. I have directed the GES director to give every child in that school a uniform,” the DCE told Starr News as he recapped the address he had delivered extempore in the locally spoken Gurune to the entire school at Goo.

Philanthropist to provide 9-unit classroom block

Prior to Starr News’ first publication on the infrastructure deficit at the school, a philanthropist and founder of Boys and Girls Club of Ghana, Dr Patricia Essilfie, had taken some steps in 2016 to construct for the school the 9-unit classroom the DCE spoke about.

About 3,000 blocks had been moulded to start the project with money provided by the humanitarian and the Bongo District Assembly had drilled a borehole in the community to facilitate the construction of the building.

But, as the schoolchildren continued to suffer, the project suffered a shaky start after an internal wrangling erupted among members of the committee in charge of the project and the philanthropist was denied an original copy of the indenture (a contract document) affirming the release of the land to the sponsor to implement the project.

The philanthropist, after she also learned the original four plots leased for the building and other facilities including teachers’ quarters unfairly had been cut back to two and a half plots, became disappointed and suspended the project indefinitely in 2017. This setback was not known beyond the community until the DCE met with the school authorities, members of the committee as well as traditional leaders and natives of the area Tuesday on the school’s premises.

DCE brings back disappointed philanthropist

Whilst the meeting was underway under a tree which served as the school’s staff common room, the DCE had a discussion with the sponsor on the telephone and managed to rekindle her commitment to the ‘abandoned’ project by assuring her the assembly would secure the original indenture for her without delay and reconstitute the committee at once.

“I’m going to reconstitute the working committee as soon as practicable. The indenture document is in the possession of one person. I’ve invited him to be here. I’m going to take custody of that document.

“And the one who is going to put up the classroom block assures me of ready funding. They have money already in their account. But what they want is the indenture. As soon as that is done, work will commence,” the DCE told journalists after he had ended his telephone conversation with the benefactress.

He further revealed that the assembly awarded some classroom construction projects not too long ago in the district and, as a “caring” entity, could have constructed at least a 3-unit classroom block for the school but had felt it was needless as a benevolent individual was going to provide the school with a much-preferred 9-unit classroom block.

As the DCE took his leave after a few hugs and random handshakes, the schoolchildren returned to their various makeshift classrooms put up under some shade trees and inside a congested borrowed church structure, each one reflecting on their rare encounter with the one who occupies today the district’s most important public office.

Their faces, which are often dampened by dust-laden Savannah winds in their improvised classrooms, glistened with hope and joy as they imagined how beautiful the promised free school uniforms would look on them from next week— the same week the ‘dead’ classroom-block project is also expected to come alive again. And, perhaps, the ‘sweetest’ news they were all more than excited to take home was the promise of every-day free lunch!