An estimated 7,400 public basic schools and 1,631 private basic schools in Ghana are said to have no toilet facilities in the 21st century Ghana.
This translates into two million school children in both public and private basic schools in Ghana who go to school from Monday to Friday each week only to resort to open defecation or some other means to ease themselves.
The situation, according to the 2017 EMIS report generated by the Ghana Education Service, has serious health implication on the affected school children as diseases such as cholera, diarrhea and several other preventable and infectious ailments are widespread among these children.
WASH Technical Co-ordinator of World Vision International Ghana, Attah Arhin, made this known in Sunyani during a workshop on Child Protection and the WASH campaign for selected journalists drawn from various parts of the Brong Ahafo region.
WASH is the acronym of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene; and it is a campaign or project being spearheaded by World Vision International Ghana to galvanize support for access to clean water and improved sanitation for people, especially children.
Mr. Attah Arhin, in his presentation, said Ghana needs just $147 million to provide decent toilet facilities for all public basic schools in the country.
He was not happy about the decline in budgetary allocation toward water and sanitation over the years and called government to as a matter of priority commit more resources into that sector due to the huge long term positive effect that could have on the people.
Explaining further, Mr. Attah Arhin said government allocated Gh.c306m to the water and sanitation sector in 2016 while in 2017, the sector was given Gh.c 255m.
The budgetary allocation to the sector, according to him, further dropped to Gh.c 183m in 2018 but is expected to increase to Gh.c 246m as contained in the 2019 budget which was presented to parliament last month.
Mr. Attah Arhin was emphatic that Ghana loses Gh.c 1.45b ($290m) annually due to poor sanitation while the nation further loses Gh.c 395m ($79m) every year as a result of open defecation, a practice which is very common in the three northern regions, especially the Upper West region as well as some towns along the country’s coast.
For his part, the Brong Ahafo Regional Director of the Department of Children, George Yaw Ankamah, expressed worry about the spate of sexual abuse and violence against children and called on the media to actively support the campaign against all forms of abuse against women and children.
He said abuse can be emotional, psychological, verbal, sexual, physical or economical; adding that child abuse or violence against children takes place in all strata of society including homes, schools and communities.
“Perpetrators of such abuses can be anyone – parents, grandparents, siblings, neighbours and relatives”, he said.
Mr. Yaw Ankamah disclosed that 25% of women aged 15 to 49 say their first sexual encounter was through rape or defilement while 17% of adolescent girls aged 15 and 19 report of having experienced sexual violence.
He said Ghana has a lot of laws which are supposed to protect the rights of children but very little seems to have been done to enforce them.
He mentioned some of the numerous laws are the Children’s Act 1998, the Human Trafficking Act 2005, the Domestic Violence Act 2007, Child and Family Welfare policy which was launched in 2015 and the Justice for the Child Policy, which was also out-doored in 2016. ([email protected])
Richard Kofi Boahen, Sunyani