THE PREDICAMENT of the pupils of Tarikom Primary School, in the Bawku West District Assembly, has attracted the attention of the District Chief Executive (DCE), Mr. Desmond Bugbilla, who has forfeited the construction of his bungalow, to construct a classroom block for them.
A visit to the school by this reporter, revealed that the collapse of a three-classroom block constructed with mud, by two communities in the area, Tarikom and Gbere, has rendered the pupils classroom-less, thus putting their health and that of their teachers under serious threat.
The school, made up of classes one to four, and with a population of 59 pupils, was currently being run under two trees, with a nutrition centre also accommodating some of the pupils. Meanwhile, it was been approved by the Ghana Education Service (GES).
According to the Headteacher of the primary school, Mr. Michael Atogse, the quandary of the school started after the collapse of the mud classroom block, and the pulling down of the erected structure meant to have accommodated the pupils.
He said after the collapse of the classroom block, the District Assembly erected a structure, with the support of the community members to accommodate the pupils, but as a result of a dispute over the location and naming of the school, between Tarikom and Gbere people, the latter came to Tarikom where the school was sited, on June 20, last year, and demolished the structure.
Mr. Atogse claimed that after the demolition of the structure, the raiders took away some furniture and textbooks, and have since not returned them to the school.
He continued that the structure was re-erected, but unfortunately, not long after a windstorm ripped it off.
Mr. Atogse lamented that the situation had made teaching and learning extremely difficult.
He said whenever it threatened to rain, the pupils were asked to vacate their “tree-classrooms” to avoid any possible calamity.
According to the Headteacher, he made several appeals to the District Education Office, through the District Director of the Ghana Education Service, Madam Agnes Atagada, but all his appeals had fallen on deaf ears.
The frustrated Headteacher in an attempt to escape these challenges, then applied for a transfer from the school, but it was denied. For now, it was just he, and one other teacher who were trained teachers, including one under the National Youth Employment Programme, and the other, a pupil teacher.
Mr. Atogse, who contended that no officer from the GES in the district had visited the school since he was posted there in 2006, except his Circuit Supervisor, Mr. James Lambon, said the dispute that ensued between the two communities, had led to Gbere pupils being withdrawn from the school by their parents.
Some of these pupils were now attending schools in neighbouring communities, while others were roaming about aimlessly.
He alleged that it was announced on the Ghana Broadcasting Cooperation (GBC) Regional FM, in Bolgatanga, URA-Radio, that some schools, including his, were going to be constructed, but unfortunately, other schools had received attention, leaving out Tarikom Primary school.
It was to find lasting solution to this chain of problems, that the DCE for Bawku West, Mr. Desmond Bugbilla, within whose jurisdiction the school was located, took the bold step to sacrifice the money earmarked for the construction of a bungalow for the DCE, for the construction of a school block for the communities.
The Finance and Administration Sub-committee, and the Works Sub-committee were tasked to take up the matter. These committees have consented to the recommendation and approval for the general assembly. The total cost of the project is estimated at GH¢ 5,000.
Meanwhile, Mr. Bugbilla had since settled the dispute between the feuding communities, and approved of the construction of a health facility at Gbere, which was near completion.
He told the Upper East File that the communities would also be given a Junior High School.
Mr. Bugbilla, the youngest DCE in the Upper East Region (32 years of age), said his decision to sacrifice the DCE's bungalow for a school block, stemmed from the fact that he attached so much importance to the education of the young ones.
The assembly member for the Tilli Electoral Area, Mr. James Anongwin, who conducted the DCE and some elders of the Tarikom community round the school, stressed on the need for the two communities to stay united, and allow the district assembly to handle the matter for the development of the communities.
The Upper East File therefore sees the decision by Mr. Bugbilla, as timely and laudable. We hope and pray that whoever would be awarded the contract and those who would supervise it, would not do shoddy work, or cause any pointless delay that could further aggravate the plight of these innocent children.