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On the last day of January 2017, Ghana witnessed yet another avoidable tragedy which claimed the lives of six pupils of the Gyambra Methodist Kindergarten School at Breman Gyambra in the Asikuma-Odobeng-Brakwa District of the Central Region of Ghana.
The Precious Six, as I choose to call them met their untimely death when part of the classroom building which is supposed to shelter them for studies rather collapsed on them.
The May 9, the Melcom, June 3rd and this current disaster at Gyambra Methodist Kindergarten have only portrayed Ghanaians as a people deeply entangled in the stronghold of indiscipline and irresponsibility that we lose sight of their devastating effect on us. Not even the lives claimed by these avoidable tragedies resulting from our indiscipline and irresponsible behaviours could make us turn a new leaf. Perhaps, such unruly behaviours are fuelled by our inherent greed.
The time has come for the whole nation to come to reality about how indiscipline and irresponsibility is costing us too dearly. When one does a critical scrutiny into the causes of the aforementioned disasters, you only come to a conclusion of improper behavior and shirking of responsibility by leaders and followers alike.
From a rowdy crowd and unprofessional police conduct in May 9, choked drainage as a result of littering and improper location of fuel filling stations in the case of June 3 and structural defects in both the Melcom and the Methodist Kindergarten school disasters, two descriptive words stand tall; indiscipline and irresponsibility. We are quick to count the losses caused us by the slave traders but silent on the heinous crime we mete out to ourselves as a result of our indiscipline and irresponsible attitude.
For once, let us honour the death of these little ones I prefer to call ‘the Precious Six’ by recalibrating our commitment to a more disciplined society where all and sundry would conduct themselves in a more responsible manner. Let us re-adopt the values of hard work, selflessness and right conduct in all aspect of our lives.
To narrow the issue down to the unfortunate demise of the precious six, Ghana was the first country to ratify the UN Convention on the rights of the child in 1990. She further went on to sign the rights and welfare of the child in 1997 which prompted the development and enactment of the Children’s Act in 1998. In addition to these, Ghana has made several pledges and commitment towards developmental milestones enshrined in the MDGs, SDGs and child protection policies jut to mention a few.
One therefore wonders why a nation which boast of all these child rights centered policies and roadmaps would sit aloof for such an unfortunate incidence to befall her little ones.
I am fully aware of relevant interventions by Non-Governmental Organizations and international agencies such as ActionAid Ghana, CARE International, Plan Ghana and USAID in promoting safe school environment in our basic schools. However, same cannot be said about the Ghana Education Service and the MMDAs’ attempt at ensuring that the school environment becomes conducive for learning and not a slaughter house for our children.
As a nation, we must begin to move from the realms of mere rhetorics in our quest to promoting child rights to implementing actions. It is about time we look critically at the requirements of the Children’s Act. Summarily, the provisions in this Act are meant to provide justice and protection for children by the state. One of the requirements in section 16 of the Children’s Act demands that, every district must have social welfare officers designated for implementing the Act. We may also consider the critical role of the School Management Committees and District/Municipal Education Oversight Committee and step up their capacity to live up to their mandate.
Finally, let me play my role as a citizen and not a spectator by suggesting that, the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) be made to carry out an independent investigation into the collapse of the building. Let us avoid the temptation of leaving such an issue to GES to investigate; we must demonstrate respect for the precious lives lost and those injured by demanding an untainted investigative report and most importantly, implementing the recommendations thereof.
Ghanaians are therefore demanding genuine answers to the following critical questions pertaining to the collapse of part of the Breman Gyambra Methodist Kindergarten school block: Is the Breman Gyambra Methodist Kindergarten School part of the official stream of schools under the GES system? Was the Parents Teachers Association, School Management Committee, District Education Oversight Committee and the zonal Circuit Supervisor aware of the structural defects of the classroom block and has it been formally recorded and communicated to both Ghana Education Service and the Asikuma Odoben Brakwa District Assembly?
When was the classroom block built and which architect or District Engineer supervised the building process?
These questions and other relevant ones must be answered to help us make any meaningful recommendations and implement lessons learnt in order to avoid future occurrence.
Every Life matters, if this unfortunate incident had occurred in a Montessori within the major cities, we would have had all Ghanaians talking; the social media would have been inundated with solidarity messages and attractive designs. The precious six, who lost their lives as a result of endemic societal indiscipline and irresponsibility are children of parents who may not have access to social media but they are definitely Ghanaians who have rights as well.
The writer is the Co-Founder of Inform Ghana, a civil society organization that promotes accountability and civic responsibility.
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