Wed, 02 Oct 2013 Education

School environment should be pupil-friendly

By Daily Graphic
School environment  should be pupil-friendly

One of the goals of the World Fit for Children, a document adopted by the UN special session on children, is to achieve a reduction in the proportion of households without access to hygienic sanitation facilities and affordable and safe drinking water by at least one-third.

This is in line with the Millennium Development Goal that aims at reducing by half, between 1990 and 2015, the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation.

After the home, the school is the next important place of learning for children, where they spend over half of their time. All children need sanitary and hygienic learning environments, since lack of such conditions in schools tends to have a stronger negative impact on girls especially, as they spend long hours in search of water at the expense of their education, in areas where water is scarce.

Sanitation demands
The sanitation demands and practices in the school environment are likely to impact positively or negatively on them and such situation contributes to absenteeism and a high drop-out rate among school-age children.

The school environment should, therefore, be pupil-friendly to exert a positive influence on their lives.

The story of an eight-year old boy who met his untimely death when he fell into his school's pit latrine at Nima, on Tuesday, September 17, raised issues of concern about the safety of some school environments in the country.

The Daily Graphic reported in its Thursday, September 19 edition that the class three pupil of the Greater Care International School, Kamel Bashiru, reportedly fell into the pit latrine at about 12 noon on Tuesday.

Recently, the plight of a cluster of schools at Ga Odumase, near Pokuase in the Ga West Municipality, near Accra, crying for additional classrooms to meet the growing population of the schools, was published on this page.

The story indicated that some of the students attended classes in uncompleted houses and private facilities of residents and under sheds and trees.

Similarly, the Deputy Greater Accra Regional Minister, Mr Isaac Djangmah Vanderpuye, was reported to have given an ultimatum to the Tema Metropolitan Assembly (TMA) to demolish unauthorised structures on the compound of the Padmore Street Primary 1 and 2 schools at Tema Community One.

According to a Ghana News Agency (GNA) report, Mr Vanderpuye further instructed the TMA to reconstruct portions of the school's wall which had been broken by miscreants.

While the school had part of its wall broken, some residents had turned the compound of the school into their kitchen, where they prepared food to sell and the structures and the broken wall posed a threat to quality education in the school.

Another story by the GNA also reported that the Ashanti Regional Education Director, Mr Kofi Sarfo-Kantanka, had urged teachers to go the extra mile to make the school environment pupil-friendly. He said they should make deliberate efforts to avoid anything that could lead the children to become disinterested in their education and eventually drop out.

While it is a fact that many schools have facilities that are up to standard, others lack amenities, ranging from classroom blocks to other structures that may disqualify them from operating as schools and these are a few examples of stories carried in the media to highlight the plight of some schools in parts of the country, which face similar challenges.

Safety measures
Safety measures in educational institutions to make them more environmentally friendly include but are not limited to good structures and facilities that will aid not only learning but also the physical being as well.

The Inspectorate Division of the Ghana Education Service (GES) is responsible for ensuring that every school is safe for all - pupils, teachers and other workers.

As the Daily Graphic rightly pointed out in an editorial after Bashiru's death, the authorities in the educational sector should, from time to time, visit schools and check if the schools have met safety requirements and not just give them the certificate to operate.

Decision-makers also need to increase investments and for concerned stakeholders to plan and act in concert, so that all children go to school which are child-friendly because they have water, sanitation and hygiene facilities.

The GES, under its School Health Education Programme (SHEP), launched a call for action in the provision of water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services in basic and second cycle schools across Ghana. The programme, dubbed WinS in Accra 2011, was aimed at expanding WASH in Schools (WinS) programmes, to improve health, foster learning and enable children to participate as agents of change.

WinS programmes, therefore, foster healthy and safe school environment that protects children from health hazards, abuse and exclusion.

By Salome Donkor/Daily Graphic/Ghana

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