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General News of Friday, 17 January 2014

Source: The Al-Hajj

SHS students eat on the floor in Upper West region

The dreams of some teachers in Upper West region to make money from their noble profession to fend for themselves and their families, and also for students to gain the necessary training from well-equipped schools to become forces to reckon with in the future is gradually turning into an illusion as reports from Senior High Schools from that part of the country suggest that the well-being of both instructors and students is in jeopardy.

Unlike their counterparts in other regions, some SHS teachers in the Upper West region are in a state of misery as the majority of them have been teaching for two years or more without remuneration and decent accommodation from the Ghana Education Service (GES).

Ominously, infrastructural deficit at the various SHS's in the region have shot to an unimaginable height to the extent that in some schools, students dine on the bare floor in wooding structures that look more or less like cowshed.

Officials and students from some of the dilapidated and not well-equipped schools noted that despite countless appeals to authorities in charge to attend to their welfare and also put the schools in good shape to extricate them from the current quagmire, nothing has happened.

One of such schools in the Upper West currently reeling under serious infrastructural challenges with some of its instructors teaching for years without salary is Ko Senior High School in the Nandom district.

The School, which has a student population of over 1000, about 41 teachers and 2 non-teaching staffs can best be described as a “suffering tower” at least per the standard of SHS in other regions.

As other schools in the region like ULO SHS, PINA SHS, NANDOM SHS, LAWRA SHS and EREMON SHS among others, 14 teachers and 2 non-teaching staffs in KO SHS have been impacting knowledge for years without pay.

A tutor at KO SHS who for obvious reasons doesn’t want to be named, in an interview disclose to The Al-Hajj he was engaged by the GES two years ago to teach, but until just a month “I was teaching without pay despite the fact that I made several follow ups, but officials only kept telling me to be patient, they always assure me that officials in Accra are working on it.”

He said some of his colleagues in the school have been teaching for over two years without a salary, adding “even accommodation here is a problem…out of the 42 of us here only 7 have been given accommodation, the rest live in rented apartments in neighboring villages…we pay Ghc25 every month for the accommodation and sometimes the landlords harass and humiliate us because we don’t have monies to pay for rent.”

According to him, it is shocking for a school that one of its past students was adjudged best teacher for 2013 to be in this current state… “Because there is no space for the students, portions of the staff common room has been converted into a dormitory for female students.”

The tutor added that the school library and ICT center have all been converted into a dormitory for students, explaining that “when I first came here, work was progressing on a storey building meant as boys dormitory and dinning, but for over a year now the project has stalled.”

“The building is almost completed, it is left with the furnishing but the contractor for over a year now has locked and gone with the keys, so the students dine on the floor in a wooding structure that was constructed in 2012 by the Parent Teachers Association (PTA) of the school,” he added.

The situation in the ULO SHS in the Jirapa district, just as KO SHS, 15 teachers in ULO SHS have been teaching for years without pay, and students have been living in difficult situations in terms of infrastructure without any indication of when they will be extricated from the worrying predicament.