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05.02.2009 Education

Zongo youth stop sch. project

By Ghanaian Times
Zongo youth stop sch. project

Achimota Anglican Junior High School and youth of Achimota Zongo are in a toggle over the construction of a new school building.

While the youth contend that the construction of a GH¢ 120,000 school project will deprive them of a football playing field, the school authorities maintain that the building is necessary to accommodate 620 pupils from the Primary and Kindergarten departments who arc currently located in five dilapidated classrooms near the Achimota lorry station.

In an interview with the Times, the headteacher, Rose Dinsey, said last November 17 when the contractor and his workers arrived at the site to construct the profile for the project, a group made up of mostly young men from the community, armed with destructive weapons attacked the contractors and their workers.

"The hostile mob numbering about 50 with clubs and heavy iron rods, destroyed property at the site, beat up the workers, collected their mobile phones and money and chased them out of the site," Mrs Dinsey narrated.

The headteacher said the mob proceeded to remove all the pegs and the profile boards, poured petrol on them and set them on fire.

They then attacked the contractor and his workers and subjected them to severe beatings and in the process damaged their vehicles.

"At this juncture, we thought it necessary to protect the lives of the school children and prevent them from witnessing these gory events by barricading them inside the classrooms," she said.

Mrs Dinsey said not satisfied with their misdeeds the irate youth marched towards her office shouting "where is that woman", "we want her", "we shall burn her", adding that when they failed to get her, they destroyed one of the newly fixed classroom doors.

She said, when the Metropolitan Education Directorate and Accra Regional Manager of Anglican Education Unit got wind of the situation, they quickly rushed to the school, and based on their judgment the school was immediately closed for the day in order to avoid any harm to the children.

In an effort to settle the matter, the Director-General of Ghana Education Service (GES), Mr Sam Bannerman-Mensah, together with the Accra Metropolitan Education Director, Mr Okaija Dinsey, and other officials met with parents and opinion leaders in the community last Friday, January 23, to deliberate on the impasse.

Mr Bannerman-Mensah reminded the gathering of the constitutional mandate of the GES to provide quality education to every child of school-going age from the Kindergarten to JHS, "so it will be difficult to compromise this responsibility."

"I know from where I sit that a lot of communities need school buildings, so when I hear that the GETFund has approved of funding for the project, but some members of the community are opposing it, I find it surprising," he said.

Mr Bannerman-Mensah assured the youth that the school project includes the provision of a football park, and said the GES encourages extra curriculum activities, "so the school authorities will ensure that there is a playing field for the children.

The Director-General said that the meeting was summoned so that "we all arrive at an understanding as to why the project must be undertaking.
However, if you do not cooperate, then we may be compelled to use force."

When the youth were given the opportunity to air their grievances their spokesperson asked for time to confer with his colleagues to ascertain their stand on the new development.

However, moments after the meeting, one of the youth stormed the school premises and started hurling insults at the headteacher in the full glare of the officials.