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11.04.2007 General News

Power Outages Affect Candidates

The load-shedding programme is having a great impact on candidates who are preparing for the Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) and the West Africa Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE).

As a result of the load-shedding exercise, most BECE candidates spend longer hours in school to study, since revision is virtually impossible in most homes because of the frequent power outages.

Meanwhile, some secondary schools have decided to bill all their students sums of money ranging between ¢300,000 and ¢450,000 to acquire generators for the schools.

In the secondary schools, most Form One students are made to work for their colleagues during the daytime. For instance, they do all the scrubbing, weeding, cleaning and fetching water, while their colleagues in Form Three catch up with their studies before the lights go off at 6:00 p.m.

A tour by the Junior Graphic to some junior secondary schools (JSS) at Madina, Adenta, Achimota, the Flagstaff House, Osu and Adabraka saw most of the candidates busily studying between 3:00 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. in their respective schools, although classes were officially over for both public and private schools.

In an interview with some of the BECE candidates in both public and private schools, they lamented that they went to school as early as 7:00 a.m. and left at 6:00 p.m. and sometimes beyond to be able to revise their notes, since the subjects for the BECE were many and they, therefore, needed to digest each one of them adequately.

Some of the candidates who lived far away from their schools also complained that sometimes they got home very late but still had to help with house chores before they finally retired to bed.

Grace Asante is a student of the La Wireless JSS and lives at Madina. According to her, she always left home as early as 5:40 a.m. so that she could get to school before 7:00 a.m. to join her colleagues for the early morning classes.

She said prior to the power crisis, she used to study at home each evening after school but now she stayed in school all day to study before going home.

However, as a result of the heavy traffic on the Madina Road, she usually ended up getting home between 8:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m. each day, which was very stressful.

"Sometimes we sleep in darkness for five days. When that happens, I wear my uniform unironed and get punished for wearing a crumpled dress. The continous light off is too much," she grumbled.

The Junior Graphic chanced on some SSS candidates who were coming home on vacation at the STC terminals in Accra and Circle last week. According to them, although they were boarders and were expected to be in school preparing for the upcoming WASSCE, they had been asked to go home since the load-shedding programme was affecting lessons and creating insecurity in their school.

In a chat, some of the final-year students said they did not engage in activities like weeding, cleaning and fetching of water to the pantry. Instead, they spent longer hours during the daytime in the classrooms, since the headmasters wanted them to perform excellently in the WASSCE.

Some of the students also disclosed that they used flashlight to study, because WASSCE was just a month away.

Nii Teiko, a parent whose two children will be writing the BECE and the WASSCE respectively, said the government must do something about the load shedding.

He said his daughter in SSS had come home because she was in a girls' school and the headmistress had said she could not keep the students there this vacation since some of them could sneak out to town at night.

At home, he ensures that the children study with rechargeable lamps every night but his next-door neighbour makes studies difficult for his children.

"He uses a noisy generator which makes it virtually impossible for the children to concentrate. But what can we say? He is in his house," he said.

Story by Hadiza Nuhhu-Billa