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Regional News Tue, 29 Jun 2021

Poor accommodation causing truancy at Paga SHS, authorities call for urgent help

Correspondence from Upper East

Challenges with student accommodation at the Paga Senior High School in the Kassena-Nankana West District is causing irregularities in attendance particularly among students who live outside campus.

The Paga SHS which started as a community day school in 2010, is faced with serious infrastructural deficits, the topmost being the lack of accommodation which is forcing students to seek shelter in rented apartments within Paga township while commuting to school for classes.

The situation is exposing female students to a greater extent to social vices. It is impacting negatively on attendance as students are unable to go to school regularly due to the distance and lack of supervision.

Students living in the town have to cover over 6km to school to have tuition and those who make the effort throughout the week, usually arrive in school tired, late and are unable to effectively participate in academic activities.

School authorities say attendance is especially worse during the wet season when the rains make it difficult for the students to commute to campus. School authorities have said that the situation is dire and seriously hampering teaching and learning.

A classroom block that was converted into a dormitory for the girls in a bid to lessen the accommodation difficulties was destroyed by fire in January 2021. The roof of the dormitory and electrical components were destroyed by the intense fire.

Six months after the disaster, authorities are yet to reconstruct the boarding facility.

Vitus Angkyier is the headmaster of the school said the delay in reconstructing the dormitory has worsened the plight of the school which has since had to make temporal arrangements to accommodate the girls.

Mr. Angkyier explained that management has been compelled to move the boys into an open room in the school’s uncompleted e-Block so that the girls who are more vulnerable can be accommodated in the boy’s dormitory.

Mr. Angkyier said the school authority is doing everything within its strength to manage the crisis. He however noted that it will take the intervention of the government to address the challenge.

“Those who were occupying the top floor [dormitory] were about 100 students. But after the fire burnt the place, we appealed to the Assembly. We wrote letters to so many NGOs and other well-meaning organizations to come to our aid. However, we haven’t had any response as I talk. So, what we have been able to do with the District Assembly is to find a place in the E-Block. We put louvres glasses and mosquito nets in one of the open rooms and currently that’s where the boys are staying,” he said.

Adding: “Where the boys were staying, we have made them to move to the room in the E-Block. So that the girls can move into the boy’s dormitory. That is what we have done temporally so that classes will continue.”

Mr. Angkyier appealed to the government to urgently address the school’s infrastructural challenges with special mention for the completion of the e-block by giving it a boarding status.

He said the unavailability of the boarding facilities was affecting the enrollment drive of the school.

“Right now, the E-block is uncompleted and what it means is that when students are placed here, they seek for other sister institutions with better facilities to go. So, invariably it is seriously reducing our enrolment.

“The school is yearning for boarding status. if that is given to us, it will go a long way to improve academic work in the sense that students are fed only once and the rest of the meals they have to cook for themselves and because they are cooking for themselves, academic work is compromised,” he added.

GhanaWeb spoke with some of the students who expressed how the lack of accommodation and other facilities in the school was affecting them.

Awundama Alfred, the Assistant Boy’s Prefect bemoaned the condition of the temporal room in which the boys are being accommodated. He said the place is not conducive. According to him, they stayed up all night whenever it rained.

He said in the instance that students stayed up and could not sleep as a result of the rains, it affected their performances in class.

Mumuni Safura, who is in her final year, stated her dislike for living outside the school premises in rented accommodation. She said the situation bred indiscipline among students and has contributed to teenage pregnancies among the girls.

She noted that the provision of dormitories for the students will enable teachers to keep an eye on them to prevent truancy and other recalcitrant behaviours that are detrimental to their studies.

“Now that some of us are living outside, they will not come to school. Some are also pregnant because there is no regular discipline so that there will be fear in us. Break time like this, some of those living outside can decide not to come back because there is no supervision. But if the dormitory were to be there, we will do things rightly. Without the dorms, everyone is where they are. So, it is actually affecting us,” she told Correspondent, Senyalah Castro, in an interview.
Source: www.ghanaweb.com
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