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Opinions of Tuesday, 29 March 2016

Columnist: Abdulai, Alhaji Alhasan

Gov’t & opposition must end dispute over schools under trees.

Alhaji Alhasan Abdulai

More School blocks are needed to aid teaching in learning in schools. In much the same way trees are needed in schools .Therefore the fight over eliminating schools under trees must take a new course in order to eliminate tension. We must by all means build schools yet trees must be planted in schools to play their god given roles in school compounds:

Although the current government has been contemplating eliminating schools under trees, that venture must be carried out with care. As government is busy building more schools, especially in the rural settings, the number of school going children who need to be in class rooms keep raising. Some ministers of the current government of NDC and some men in opposition have been arguing on the number of schools under trees that have been eliminated in Ghana for some time now. Although the governments claims to be doing its bit in that direction it is not happy about criticisms it is receiving on it. The President John Dramani Mahama on his part had occasion to lash out at critics of his ‘school under trees” program saying it is a work in progress.

While speaking at the annual Tortsogbeza Festival of the chiefs and people of Sokpoe in the South Tongui District of the Volta Region, the president said political opponents are using the program to score cheap popularity.

But President Mahama said his administration has a strategy in place to eliminate all schools under trees explaining that the strategy adopted by government will ensure that the infrastructure deficit in the educational sector is covered.

“So we have a strategy for doing it, we’ve committed the district assemblies, (216 of them every year to replace two schools under trees from now to 2020). Government is going to build another 1,000 schools to remove schools under trees,” he added.
It is unfortunate that the issue of schools under trees has become a partisan issue between the government and the opposition. That should not be the case for trees are very important. It is my belief that neither this government nor even the government of the parties in opposition can eliminate schools under trees.
The question to ask is, are we sure that we only need classrooms without the need for trees to complement the classrooms? I believe that in looking seriously at our curricula from primary to secondary and tertiary levels, there are many lessons in schools that need practical works that are done very well in large halls or outside of the classroom. Because we cannot get halls large enough with good ventilations at all times and in all schools, the trees then come handy during arts and culture that include the use of clay and during plays and singing drumming and dancing and cultural activities. It is true that all schools would require big halls for meetings and other mass activities, but we cannot rule out the holding of assemblies often outside of the classrooms especially during hot seasons where trees could be of use to provide coolness. Although the president and other government officials are working to eliminate schools under trees, I beg to plead with them to slow down on the rhetoric on this policy. Please take it easy as you provide the classrooms. Trees that play important roles in our lives must not be demonized for they are needed in schools just as school blocks are needed. As an environmentalist, working for sustainable development of human and natural resources, I believe that there must be more trees planted around schools to play their god given roles. The trees would serve as wind breaks, help provide cool atmosphere and again serve as places for recreational activities and shelter for those students wishing to relax and receive fresh air especially in hot seasons. For that matter let’s not behave as if trees have no part to play in our schools. We believe that before classrooms were built in the Gold Coast right through the processes of Ghana becoming independence, trees played important roles in our educational programs and they will be useful now and into the future. For that matter the NDC and NPP must end their arguments over schools under trees while the government does its bit in putting up schools and getting more trees in support. Instead as people in one nation the political parties must work together to provide schools blocks needed in Ghana with trees to complement them.

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