Improved academic performance tied to provision of water

Tue, 6 Oct 2015 Source: Edmund Smith-Asante

The drilling of three boreholes in the Sirigu Senior High School in the Upper East Region has brought a lot of changes in the lives of the students, staff and the academic performance of the school, Mr Thomas Awiah, the headmaster, has stated.

“For example, in 2002 when we had just one borehole, our academic performance nationwide was 73.77 per cent. Then with the introduction of another borehole in 2004, the performance came down to 70 per cent.”

He said in 2006 the academic performance soared to 90.6 per cent, as students no longer went in search of water, had time to study and do whatever they wanted to do.

“In 2008, the academic performance went to 98.9 per cent. In 2009, it fell to 93 per cent but we didn’t give up,” he said.

In 2011, the academic performance rose again to 96 per cent, inched higher to 97 per cent in 2012 “and in 2013 we had 100 per cent and in the region we were placed fourth and 100 nationally, out of 686 schools, as far as the WASCCE was concerned,” he stated.

In 2014 the school chalked up 99 per cent in academic performance.

“This goes to tell us that the introduction of water, and with the feeding system that came in, where students no longer had to fend for themselves, has improved their academic performance.”

Improvement in sanitation

Mr Awiah, who was speaking to a team of journalists and staff of World Vision Ghana, an NGO, who were on a visit recently, also said the water had contributed good sanitation because hitherto, the students did not have water to even wash their clothes, let alone for cleaning and inspection. The students now undergo regular inspection, clean their gutters and have started rubbing shoulders with the big schools in terms of sanitation.

The school has also been able to engage in tree planting and is competing with others for national honours, due to the availability of water all year round.

Mechanisation of borehole

The headmaster said the desire of the school to have its third high-yielding borehole mechanised was realised this year at the beginning of the third term and since September “the school now has 24-hour water operated with a solar system. World Vision has killed two birds with one stone – they have solved our water problem and they have reduced our financial burden of paying water bills to the Water Company,” he said.

Within the past few days the students, teaching and kitchen staff have all been excited because water has been connected to all places, he said, adding that a water system had also been provided for the community to prevent members from encroaching on the school.

Skirmishes prevented

A teacher at the school, Mr Bismark Azabire, told the visiting team that before the boreholes were constructed there used to be skirmishes between the students and members of the community as a result of competition for the little water available at the community’s boreholes.

“Because of the number of students we have, when there was a queue at the borehole, it was almost impossible for any community member to have access to the water; so, that was bringing problems in our interactions with the community,” he stated.

Mr Azabire also said as a result of the time used by the students to search for water, the school’s timetable could not be followed, while meals could not be served on time at the dining hall.

A teacher in charge of special education, Mr Adjai Seidu, added that the lack of water on campus then impacted on the security of the students, especially the girls, who were sometimes caught up in fights with community members over water.

He indicated that life on campus for some visually impaired students who had to trek long distances for water and compete with the sighted was a living hell because of the unavailability of water.

According to a Form One Arts student, Ms Emmanuela Atarezina, the plight of students with diseases such as asthma was worsened because contrary to the doctor’s advice they had to carry water from the community to the school every day.

From the beginning

The school was established in 2000 as a community day school at the Catholic Mission Social Centre with a student population of 60 and three members of staff. It currently has a population of 1,120, of which 700 are females.

The District Assembly later provided land for the school. “When the school moved here we didn’t have any source of water and so students were suffering a lot and they had to go to the streams to fetch water. As a day school, the students were fending for themselves so they had to fetch water for themselves before for studies.”

World Vision came to drill a borehole in the school and it served as a source of water. That borehole was not high yielding so they came again to drill a second borehole, which is in use. It brought some relief to the students and to the school.

The school started the boarding system in February 2014 and when it became a boarding school a lot of pressure was put on the borehole facility. Water was needed to cook for the students so there came the need for more water.

So in collaboration with World Vision they drilled a third borehole. “I must say that World Vision has been of immense support to this school. They have taken us as a special school that they have to help because I have been to many schools and I have not seen that happening.”

Mr Awiah said the yield was such that it could even serve the whole Sirigu community so he discussed with World Vision on mechanising that borehole for the school.

Writer’s email: edmund.asante@graphic.com.gh

Columnist: Edmund Smith-Asante