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General News of Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Source: Francis Tandoh, Zebilla, Upper East Region/

Zebilla SHS students sleep in toilets

...following acute shortage of accommodation

In their quest to pursue secondary education, some students of Zebilla Senior High Technical School (SHTS) in the Bawku West District of the Upper East Region have no choice than to sleep in washrooms converted to dormitories.

This revelation came to light when members of the Public Interest and Accountability Committee (PIAC) together with a team of journalists from the Institute of Financial and Economic Journalists (IFEJ) visited the educational institution to obtain first-hand information about utilization of oil money on some on-going projects.

With a student population of 1437 boys and girls and having dilapidated dormitories not able to accommodate the boys, the school has been compelled to convert a six unit toilet facility into a dormitory for students to sleep.

A student who spoke to News Ghana on anonymity explained the acute accommodation problem that has hit the school was the reason some of them had to seek shelter in a toilet.

"This is a washroom that has been turned into a dormitory and that produces a lot of heat during the dry season especially. Because of lack of accommodation, we are managing with this toilet as our dormitory.

The second year student could not tell when the conversion of the washroom into a dormitory was done but indicated his batch met the problem when they were admitted into the school.

Apart from the congestion, the normal dormitories could be described as death traps with the roofs of the buildings leaking badly anytime there was a downpour.

Students we were told had to stand at vantage points in their rooms with their valuables anytime it rained.

Attempts to get authorities of the school to speak to the issue proved futile however one of the teachers who also preffered to remain anonymous confirmed the problem facing the students.

He aappealed to the government to as a matter of urgency come to the aid of the school.

In a bid to ease the accommodation problem of the school the government in 2012 began the construction a two-storey dormitory block for the school.

The project, when completed will help to off load the number of students who are currently occupying diplapidated structures and the washrooms.

The project however got stalled for sometime until some few weeks back and the site manager says the delay was a result of non-release of funds.

At the time of our visit, workers were seen plastering the inside of the building with ceiling work also completed.

"We are hoping that as they have come to continue the project, they will not leave until they finish. We are hoping that they go by their words," the teacher said.

Prof. Paul Kingsley Buah-Bassuah, Chairman for the PIAC was happy part of the oil revenue had been devoted to the completion of project but expressed his disappointed on the slow pace of the work.

"Actually, I was informed that this project started in 2012, however the oil money was given in 2014. If you look around you can see that they really need a two-storey dormitory block but from the look of things you can see that work on the building is not going so fast as expected.

However, I realise that within the few days, they are putting finishing touches to the building as they are doing the ceiling and other things. But I think the oil money devoted to this building is essential otherwise the children will get sick easily since they are exposed to malaria and other things," he said.

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