USAID assists schools with classroom blocks in BA
By: Michael Boateng
Wamfie Methodist Primary Block
Mr. Emmanuel Yeboah, Headmaster of the Wamfie Methodist Primary and Junior High schools in the Dormaa East District, has appealed to the government to extend the School Feeding Programme to the educational institution.
He noted with concern that the food some parents gave to their children could not sustain them, especially those aged between six and 11 during the eight-hour school period.
According to him, this situation has compelled some of the teachers to use their own monies to buy food for some of the children.
The Headmaster made the appeal when the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) handed over a three-unit classroom block to the school on Thursday at Wamfie.
He further observed that truancy and absenteeism were very high among the students, as some of them undertook menial jobs to cater for themselves, noting with regret that some parents rather gave priority to funerals and social activities, instead of their children's education.
Mr. Yeboah stressed that if the situation continued, many of the children, especially the girls, would become dropouts, disclosing that last year, two pregnant girls sat for the Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) in the school.
According to him, congestion, lack of toilets, inadequate desks for both students and teachers, and inadequate water facilities were problems that affected effective teaching and learning in the school with a population of 120 students.
He pointed out that some of the students studied under dilapidated wooden structures, while some of the existing school buildings had become death traps for the students, teachers and pupils.
Mr. Yeboah expressed the worry that most of the students did not have knowledge about computers in the absence of an ICT center, though some teachers were computer literate and willing to teach the pupils.
He, therefore, appealed to the District Assembly to assist the school with an Information and Communication Technology (ICT) center for computer studies.
The three-unit classroom block, provided by the USAID at a cost of GH¢91,589.77, contains an office for the Headmaster, store and staff common room, while construction work on a Kumasi Ventilated Improved Pit (KVIP) toilet was in progress.
A similar facility was also handed over by the USAID to the local Methodist Primary and Junior High School (JHS) at Aboabo Number Four in the Dormaa Municipality. The projects were supervised by Plan Ghana, a non-governmental organisation (NGO).
Dr. Ruby Avotri, Monitoring and Evaluation Coordinator for the Transition and Persistence (TAP) of Plan Ghana, who handed over the keys to the building, constructed within three months, asked the District Education Directorate and the school authorities to take proper care of the facility.
She explained that the school block formed part of the USAID-Plan Ghana Educational Project being executed in the country.
Dr. Avotri said it was an offence and 'sin before God' for parents to shirk their responsibilities towards their children.
She observed that the proper upbringing and development of children was the collective responsibility of all stakeholders, and advised the Parent Teacher Association to work closely with the School Management Committee.
Mr. Fred Twum-Barimah, Deputy District Director of Education in-charge of supervision, expressed concern about the high incidence of teenage pregnancy in the area, which had resulted in a decrease in enrolment figures in the area.
He advised the girls to avoid pre-marital sex, and entreated teenage mothers to consider continuing their education, so they would become responsible citizens in future.
Mr. Twum-Barimah thanked USAID and Plan Ghana for the gesture, and appealed to the donors to also support the school establish an ICT center.
In another development, USAID has handed over a three unit classroom block it constructed at the cost of GH¢91,589.77 to the Girls Model Junior High School at Bechem in Tano South District of the Brong-Ahafo Region.
The facility, furnished with wooden desks, comprises an office, store and staff common room, and was executed by Modern Times Company, a Sunyani-based construction firm, within a three month period.
Plan Ghana supervised the construction of the project, which formed part of the three-year Transition and Persistence (TAP) 'USAID-Plan Ghana Educational Project' in the country.
The US$11 million project, instituted by USAID in 2011, and being implemented by Plan Ghana, is aimed at helping to increase school enrollment by 15 percent, as well as increasing completion rate by 25 percent in 2013.
One hundred and fifty-six schools selected from 13 districts in the Ashanti, Brong-Ahafo, Eastern and Greater Accra regions are benefiting from the project.
Dr. Ruby Avotri, Monitoring and Evaluation Coordinator for TAP, who handed over the classroom block, noted that available statistics indicated school children, especially girls in deprived communities, failed to complete Junior High School.
She attributed the high level of school dropouts in those communities to poverty, lack of infrastructure, among others.
To help solve these problems, Dr. Avotri said the USAID instituted the project had two components, with the first part aimed at making the school environment attractive by improving infrastructure.
She said the second component would focus on identifying brilliant but needy students in the project-implementing schools, and provide them with incentives such as exercise books, mathematical sets, school bags and uniforms, as well as bicycles to those who walk more than five kilometres to attend school.
The co-ordinator emphasised that under the project, headteachers, teachers, circuit supervisors and school management committees were trained in school management and leadership skills to enable them to manage the schools effectively.
Dr. Avotri said the project was able to establish 78 footballs, as well as Right and Responsibility clubs each for boys and girls in the beneficiary schools.
She said the school buildings would be beneficial to the communities if the students learnt hard and passed the Basic Education Certificate Examination, and advised teachers in the schools to also work hard.
Mr. Zakaria Bukari Anaba, District Chief Executive, thanked USAID and Plan Ghana for the support that he said had helped to improve infrastructure in the schools.
He observed that since the project was brought to the area, educational infrastructure had improved at the Dwomo Methodist JHS, Techimantia Presby JHS and Ankaase community JHS.
Mr. Anaba said the assembly would contribute its part by providing a school bus for the Girl's Model School, and entreated the school authorities and the Parent Teacher Association to adopt the culture of maintenance to ensure that the facility would last.
Mrs. Josephine Saben Fosu, Headmistress of the school, expressed appreciation to the donors, and appealed to the District Assembly to help establish a primary division.
She said the school was established in 2000 with 63 students, but expressed worry that the population continued to decline as a result of teenage pregnancy.
Mrs. Saben Fosu appealed to parents and guardians in the area to show interest in the education of their children by providing them with basic learning and teaching materials.