FEATURE: The predicaments of students and teachers of Guo primary school
Guo is one of the largest communities in the Nandom district in the Upper West Region. Nandom district is also one of the newly created districts in the Upper West Region of Ghana. The people of Guo are largely peasant farmers and petty traders. Their major source of income is through the sale of 'pito' and some of their farm produce.
It is one of the communities that is heavily stricken by poverty. As a result, most of the people are uneducated and that is seriously affecting the community as of now. Pupils in the community are still struggling to get quality education. In all sincerity, the few who were lucky to have had formal education are finding it uneasy to progress as compared to their colleagues elsewhere. This is because the dependency ratio on them is so high that I can't speculate.
Guo D/A Primary School is the second highly populated school in the Nandom district yet it cannot boast of basic things like furniture, textbooks among other materials for its pupils. I am not oblivious that most schools are be devilled with this problem but the situation at Guo is exceptional and need urgent attention. In fact, anyone who doubts this information can personally do follow up to witness things for himself or herself. The pictures above are the students of Guo D/A primary four in normal lesson.
Parents and guardians of Guo were so exhilarated when the FCUBE finally comes to stay. They excitedly lauded the initiator of this policy because they think it will in no small way liberate them from hardship as their children go to school without paying a penny as well as being fed in same manner.
It however came as a surprise to these hopeful parents and guardians regarding the kind of education government is giving to their children. Free things are indeed costly as the axiom goes. The zeal and unrepentant quest of Ghana's government to making education free and accessible to every child of school going age came under question when parents realised that their children have no furniture to sit on and learn in their various classrooms. In fact, my visit to the school recently has raised numerous unanswered questions as I write this article.
Are our leaders really interested in the education of the ordinary Ghanaian child? Are they interested in quantitative or qualitative education of the ordinary children? The attitude of our leaders towards our education leaves no iota of doubt in me that approximate, what I essentially view as a classic symptomatology of a deliberate attempt, to cajole the poor to keep rewarding them generously by consistently voting them into power. This is unfortunate! This attitude of our leaders must be condemned in no uncertain terms. They must stop playing total zero-sum politics with us. I am sometimes tempted to believing that the positions of our leaders are being threatened because of the level of intelligence of these village boys and girls. They are afraid that these village boys and girls may end up succeeding them instead of their (politicians) own children, hence their indifferent attitude to providing quality education to the deprived areas like Guo. But this mindset is everything objectionable in our contemporary Ghanaian society.
Indeed, let me admit that I wrote this article out of passion after my visit to Guo primary school. Sadly speaking, I was taken aback when I saw students from class one to class four in the Guo primary school sitting on the bare floor in the classrooms while teaching and learning was ongoing. They lie on their stomachs while writing. I could not control my tears on that day. This is absolutely unfathomable in this 21st century. You can imagine the health implications of sitting on a very cold floor to learn. No wonder most of these children are suffering from pneumonia and other cold related diseases. My readers, can you imagine what your child will go through after sitting on a very cold cemented floor for hours after a heavy downpour of rain? That is exactly what primary one to primary four pupils in Guo D/A primary school are going through in school at this season of heavy rains.
It is so pathetic that government has made senior high schools free when basic schools are not fully equipped to supply qualified students to the senior high schools. This may sound political but that is the hard truth. Those of you who teach in the senior high schools can attest to the fact that most of the students are not qualified to be there yet they there because of the parochial interest of our leaders. How can students lie on their stomachs and write legibly? How can they concentrate while sitting on very cold floor? How are the teachers expected to move and manage these classes? Hmmmmmm leaders of Mother Ghana must rise and think outside the box. This may sound insulting but sincerely speaking, I am being charitable and economical with unsavory comments. You will use more harsh words if you witness what I am talking about. Pupils are rushed to hospital while others go back home day in day out because of the extremely cold nature of the floor they sit on to learn. It is so sardonic! Very very sad for pupils to study under such a deplorable condition while our leaders are hastily implementing premature policies. A complete misplaced priority! Why don't we properly enforce a holistic and quality Free Compulsory and Universal Basic Education if we are indeed interested in the well-being of these children?
It will surprise you to know the amount of money parents and guardians spend on their children in Guo primary school as a result of lack of furniture. They don't pay school fees. They don't also pay for feeding but what they spend on soap alone is colossal enough to cater for their wards fees if they are to pay fees. My encounter with the teachers indicated that parents relentlessly complain of washing their wards uniforms on daily bases which is widening their poverty gap. The uniforms get torn within no time because of the constant washing.
With the condition under which these pupils study, one do not need to be told that teaching and learning is not going on well in the school. This is because pupils lose concentration, more especially in the morning or after a heavy downpour of rain when the floor becomes too cold.
Also, according to the teachers, supervising the pupils work becomes difficult since the condition under which they learn is uncomfortable. Classroom management is very poor as pupils sit in no particular order in the class. Pupils exercise books as well as other teaching and learning materials becomes too dirty and some get torn in no time.
Both the students and teachers are presently with cup in hand begging the government, NGOs and all benevolent persons to come to their aid. "We will be highly grateful if the government, NGO or any benevolent persons could help salvage us from this problem". Let me hasten to add that the future of this country lies in the hands of these children who are currently learning on a bare floor in Guo primary school and other unknown schools across the country that are in similar condition.
Let me use this platform to plead that with Mission Ghana and any other groups that have children's education at heart to come out and support Guo D/A primary school with anything that you can do to help these pupils realised their potentials and develop them for the development of mother Ghana.
By: Derbie Raphael