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Opinions of Thursday, 31 July 2014

Columnist: Blege, Alex

…Stroke Of My Pen”: A Third Trimester Experience, Warts And All

The date was May 22, 2014 at 2 pm when in the company of three school mates of mine, we arrived at Asuboi- a village where two streams meet, Sinae and Subri. It is one of the villages under Techimantia, a town in the Tano South District of the Brong Ahafo Region. The district capital of the Tano South District is Bechem.

The village is off the Techimantia- Derma road. There are about four villages one will have to pass by before finally arriving at Asuboi. The villages are: Akrobo, Nyamebeye, Mpomponase, Animadukrom. It is a farming area.

The people cultivate crops of all kinds. If salt was a seed and is sown, I am certain that the people of Asuboi and its surrounding villages will cultivate it.

It was my first time going for the Third Trimester Field Practical Programme since I gained admission to the University for Development Studies only last year. However, my colleagues had been there in their first year and, they were familiar with the village and its inhabitants.

My friends made me understand a few things I should expect when I get to Asuboi.First, the village has no electricity and telecommunication network is not stable. There is a particular spot I can get.a network to make calls to family and friends. Transportation from the village to Techimantia is a story that must not be told but witnessed.

So then our work in the village begun. We were supposed to identify the most important need in the community and write a proposal suggesting solutions to the need. This work demands that we take a population census of the villagers, taking into consideration their economic, social and cultural potentials and problems.

This is what gives the UDS student the practical understanding of what development means- infact the understanding and implementation of development of rural people and their communities. It is not only about what our lecturers tell us in our ever-crowded lecture halls.

This programme is popularly known as TTFPP- passionately hated by students and lovingly prescribed by the school authorities. It is an eye opener for a first timer like yours truly. It brings to bear the practical aspect of the theories we get to hear in the classroom. It instils the discipline of cultivating academic and practical research into the student, working together in teams, and making clear to rural people the essence of development by following steps in involving them in the process of development.

From a journalistic point of view- that is the profession I have had an education in, at the prestigious GHANA INSTITUTE OF JOURNALISM before applying to the only University in Ghana that seeks to train her students to become developers, University for Development Studies, I took notice of a few things both trivial and note worthy.

First, upon arrival, there was an abandoned building in the village. Frankly, it is the only building that was built with cement and block. I then begun speaking to a few elderly men in the village who told me that it was built by the then Cocoa Marketing Board now COCOBOD to house harvested cocoa beans until it was needed for export.

Guess what, it has now become an abode for birds, goats and sheep. Since, it is not used for the purpose it was established, the goats and sheep have found it a place where they can chew their cud and defecate freely. Well, I stand to be corrected, COCOBOD really needs to go round the cocoa and coffee growing areas of BELOVED MOTHER GHANA and take stock of all the structures that were built in the sixties and seventies to house harvested cocoa or coffee beans.

It will save the nation some money and embarrassment since COCOBOD ware houses in Tema and Takoradi can not accommodate all the cocoa that are harvested in the country. There is usually some trouble between COCOBOD and the drivers who cart the cocoa from the rural areas to the ware house in Tema and Takoradi.

Another observation was, the villagers out of self help have constructed a place of convenience for themselves. Wooden planks, a mud wall and a corrugated iron sheet make up the structure. There are separate ones for male and female- young and .

The village has a basic school which is from kindergarten to primary six. The children in the community and the surrounding community attend this school and when they are ready to go to the junior high school, they will have to put at the back of their minds that they will be making a journey of 8.5 kilometres to Akrobo or they will have to cross the Subri stream and make a journey of 2 kilometres to Subriso.

Infact, on different occasions I have walked from Asuboi to Nyamebeye and Asuboi to Santaase. I have seen pupils walking through the lonely forest early in the morning to get to school at Asuboi. The same for pupils walking from Santaase Asuboi. Let no one discount this. Children as young as six, seven and eight make this tiresome journey until they complete junior high school.

In the kindergarten classrooms, children sit on the bare ground to learn. Well, these issues are becoming like a cliche and it seems to be coming an accepted phenomenon. Wait a minute- this is not about trying to run down someone else somewhere, it is about seeking that all children across the length and breadth of this nation have a decent environment to study. Not only a decent environment, but, the right teaching and learning materials.

I have no qualms whatsoever, with the producers of educative programmes on television or on radio like mathematics quizzes for pupils. However, the quizzes are usually patronised by pupils from one endowed school or the other. There isn't any occasion where pupils have come from one D/A Primary School or Junior High School. It is either one of those schools that is in one urban town or the other- most of the time the private schools.

Our leaders today attended one L/A Primary School or the other and their teachers taught them well. So what is preventing them from looking out for ways to make our educational system attractive and enjoyable like they had it. They may not have had it all rosy but my deceased grandfather used to say a proverb in my native language- enu me wo na ame to alo ame no ga wo na evi o, to wit the failures or hard times experienced by a father or a mother must not be passed on to the children.

Let our leaders from the politictal divide know that they have failed the current generation. WHY? I listened to one politician who was talking about how during their school days any pupil from any middle school whether L/A or D/A Middle School from any village will get the opportunity to go to Prempeh College or Achimota Senior High School. However, it is not the same now. The "big schools" are usually for those who attend one private school or the other.

It takes any individual to be extra determined to make it and get to the top with all the guys who attended the big schools. Well, I am happy to have attended KPEDZE SENIOR SECONDARY SCHOOL and I sit in the same classroom with the guys who went to the so-called big schools. The good news is, there is no English word which they use that I cannot make meaning of- if I don't get the meaning I check it out in the dictionary and I am not ashamed because learning is work in progress.

Also, a health post is not in the community except in Subriso though community health nurses visit the community. I believe that more can be done if Asuboi or Mpomponase has a CHPS compound which will serve the surrounding villages As a result of lack of a health facility, mobile chemists meet the health needs of the inhabitants.

There is nothing wrong if a health post is put in Asuboi or Mpomponase because before one moves from any of these villages to Subriso, there might be trouble. A health post and a junior high school can serve these two villages.

In spite of all these challenges the people of Asuboi have one unique feature about them- the birth of twins is common in the village. During our stay I came across either Kakra and Panyin, or Ata and Ataa, or Asana and Fuseini, or Alhassan and Fuseina. I joked with this and said that when I get married my wife and me wil go to Asuboi where we can give birth to twins.

All these experiences I owe it to TTFPP I will appeal to the authorities of UDS to give stipends to students so that apart from the marks that are awarded it will ensure the upkeep of the students. I also appeal that TTFPP should be continued to the third year where students will be attached to NGOs that are into rural community development or rural banks or government institutions that are solely responsible for the development of Ghana.