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Opinions of Sunday, 18 October 2015

Columnist: Wisdom Bonuedi

Prempeh College dormitory balustrade to be raised?

A story published in the Tuesday, October 13, 2015 issue of the Daily Graphic caught me thinking.The story had the headline — ‘Prempeh College dormitory balustrade to be raised’. I have no problem with the writer since he has the mandate to report vividly what goes on and around the country. He stated clearly why the balustrade is to be raised. My problem lies in the interventions.

………. ‘Following the death of a final year student of Prempeh College in Kumasi, who fell from the second floor of the Opoku WareII dormitory, educational authorities in the metropolis have directed that the low balustrade be raised to forestall future accidents…… Briefing the Daily Graphic after a visit to the school, the Metro Director of Education, Mr Alexander Attah Asante, said “we have directed the headmaster to look for the consultant who supervised the construction of the structure and ensure the balustrade is raised”….. He said the decision was taken after it was realised that the three-line balustrade “was not high enough.”

Every Ghanaian who has attended any senior high school, the University, the Teacher or Nursing Training Colleges can testify that these institutions have their balustrades lower than what Prempeh College had and that is what the situation has been until now.

In this country, we all wait for an accident to plunge us into chaos before we take pragmatic decisions and measures. Our elders say, “The tree that threw “Prempeh” into half-alive and half-dead, “Asasco” does not doze under it for whatsoever reason”. There is another I have read from our elders that says, ‘once bitten twice shy’ and it is transliterated as……. “The one who has been bitten by a snake fears an earthworm”. These old adages catapult us to the fact that no child with only two senses out of the God-given five working will play around balustrades meant to confine them after realising the dangers and what has happened to a fellow. I know, no students, no matter how stubborn, will play around balustrades in their schools. They will not even touch them.

I am tempted to state here that we look like the vulture that is triggered to build a home after it has been subjected to an overnight rain. Every head of school, educational directors, senior housemasters, housemasters, teachers and parents know the height of these balustrades in our schools. We have attended these schools and some of us even stubbornly go to the extent of sitting on these metallic poles. Because none of us fell off it, we did not realise what could have happened. Why then did none of these stakeholders see the possible dangers the height of the balustrades could cause? And we wait till a life is lost before we give directives? Did a similar thing not happen in All Nations University College in Koforidua? It only became news for the media houses. The sad news was on the waves and died the subsequent week. Who was held responsible? Now the innocent boy is gone.

As a people, we need not wake up only when disaster looms and strikes us. We should see beyond what Dr Kwame Nkrumah laid down. There are many institutions with structures that pose threats to our children. There are schools that have heavy cracks running through the walls and the ceilings. Who is watching? The kinds of buses our children ride in are another issue. Are we waiting for the buses to throw students and pupils on an excursion away before we take precaution? The graduates who have left universities and are looking for jobs….. Are we waiting for them to point guns at us before we employ them? Are we taking precautions or we are looking on unconcerned? Floods kill people annually in Accra each time there is rain. What measures have been put in place to forestall future happenings such as strike actions and cholera outbreaks? Have we given up the campaign? If we don’t sit up and tackle issues at their roots, we all will one day hold hands, and as if we are strayed cattle, fall into a ditch.