Whilst We Look On As Our Politicians Praise Themselves…Decay Spreads – By Nana Awere Damoah

Disaster in waiting?

Most of my friends have told me they hardly see me angry. I don’t know if that is a positive or negative attribute. Fact is, I do get angry, but try not to show it. Often. I guess what epitomizes that state of affairs is what my friend Innocent Kpornu said, “When annoyed, a leader should not squeeze his face; he should squeeze his anus.” Sorry for the graphic simile but it has a great truism in there.

As a young African who has his continent and country at heart, who is guided by the motto of my secondary school Pro Patria, for the sake of the fatherland, who is of the strong view that we are the ones to build our homeland, with our sweat, blood and hands, nothing makes me angry more than to see the slow pace of development in Ghana. And to see that whilst we go so slow, our leaders who should know better continue to pat their backs and sing their own praises. For someone who has spent a year abroad and seen what a thinking and forward people can achieve, bit by bit, day by day, I get annoyed when it seems that here in Ghana, the past seems rather brighter than the future.

This morning, I read the story in the Graphic online (http://www.graphic.com.gh) about a headmaster who has to share his bungalow with female students because there is no accomodation. I reproduce the story below:

Accommodation challenges facing the Mangoase Senior High School (MASS) have compelled the headmaster of the school to cede part of his two-bedroom bungalow to female students of the school.

Close to 50 students are occupying the headmaster’s kitchen and sitting room, with some sleeping on the about 20 beds available, while others sleep on mattresses on the floor.

To enter his room, the Headmaster, Mr Albert K. Worfa, passes through the garage, while cooking is done in the open.

There is a blockade that prevents the students from interfering with the headmaster’s space and privacy, and vice versa.

The school has a boarding population of 420, with 270 being girls and 150 being boys.

On a hot day, life becomes very uncomfortable. Ceiling fans spin furiously in vain to blow away the steamy hot air flooding in from the compound.

One student sums up the problem: “The room feels like an oven. Sleeping here with our bags as pillows is very difficult.”

The only bath house for the 270 girls is a ramshackle structure that can take only six students at a time.

“In the morning, long queues are formed here just for us to bathe and prepare for school,” another student said.

If the situation for the girls is bad, that of the boys is no different. Besides the struggle for decent accommodation, there is no water at the boys’ dormitory and the students have to rely on the heavily polluted River Densu for their domestic activities.

Their woes do not end there. Because there is no dining hall, the students are forced to use their classrooms or any convenient place to take their meals.

The library is a room that best qualifies to be a storeroom, as stack of books compete with two sewing machines and some foodstuffs. The only bookshelf is packed neatly with books described by the students as “irrelevant to our subjects”.

That is not all.

The computer laboratory is virtually on hibernation, as the close to 1,000 students have to devise means to study Information and Communications Technology, which is now a core subject in SHS, with eight computers that, on a bad day, only blink and stay so for the rest of the day.

Opened on January 27, 1992, MASS is among the most deprived senior high schools in the country.

The school, located at Tetteh-Kofi village in the Akuapem South District in the Eastern Region, is accommodated in the buildings of the defunct Cocoa Services Division.

Domestic animals take advantage of the absence of a school wall to roam on the school compound, leaving behind trails of animal droppings.

Speaking to the DAILY GRAPHIC, Mr Worfa said the school was opened as a community school but later adopted the hostel system to enable students from outside Mangoase to access secondary education in the area.

The hostel system, he stated, had been transformed into the boarding system, while the school awaited approval from the GES.

To deal with accommodation, the Ghana Education Trust Fund (GETFund) has started the construction of two single-storey buildings to meet the accommodation needs of the students.

With all those challenges, results of the school in the West Africa Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) can be very predictable, even though efforts to get the school’s WASSCE results over the years did not prove successful.

The headmaster told the Daily Graphic that the performance of the students was average.

After running two years without a Board of Governors, the school finally got it its board sworn into office on Thursday.

The 11-member board led Mr Ransford Tetteh, President of the Ghana Journalist Association and Editor of the Daily Graphic , is expected to, among other things,serve as an advisory body to the headmaster.

The body would also control the general policy of the institution, subject to further directives of the Minister of Education through the Ghana Education Service Council.

Addressing the new board members, Ms Adriana Kandilinge, the Eastern Regional Director of Education, said the board had been appointed at a time senior high schools in the country faced numerous challenges including accommodation, infrastructure, and poor academic performance.

She, therefore, urged the board members to use their rich experience, with the help of the school’s Parent Teacher Association, to find solutions to the myriad of challenges facing the school.

The Regional Director also urged the board to be circumspect in its dealings to ensure that the usual friction  between school boards and heads of the schools did not arise.

While commending members of the old board for their sacrifice over the years, she said, “We trust that with your experience and high standard, decisions taken will serve the best interest of the staff and the school as a whole.”

“The board must cooperate with staff, students and Parent-Teacher Association and the community to ensure that peace prevails. When peace prevails, then everybody’s attention will be focused on how to fufil the school’s mission and vision of excellence to the optimum,” she said to a wild applause from the students.

The new Chairman of the Board of Governors of MASS, Mr Ransford Tetteh, promised that the days of deprivation and struggle would soon be over for the school.

He gave an assurance that the board would do all it could to change the face of the school and leave it better than it was now.

Mr Tetteh, who shared his experience as a child in a community not far from Mangoase, said, “We can lift ourselves from this small community and challenge all the big schools in Ghana and make it to the university if we are determined to. There are people from those big schools who are not able to qualify for the university.”

This is a sad commentary on our state of affairs as a nation. Meanwhile our politicians pat their backs and say ‘So far so good’ & ‘Unprecedented’. Shame on all of us!

I have said many times that unless we up our expectations of our political leaders, unless we remove the political lenses through which we view everything we do in this nation, unless we form a brigade of patriots, who have only the development of his nation at heart, we will continue to go back! As Kojo Asante of CDD said a couple of weeks on Joy FM, our politicians continue to speak to themselves and not to us. They don’t care about us because they know once they can keep knocking our heads together and get us in camps, we won’t stop to talk to ourselves and stop to watch the decay around.

Let’s think Ghana. The rate of development in this country is slow!

Two years ago, in November 2010, I veered off my normal route through Labone and drove through ‘old’ Labone. People, even in what we call the ‘center of Accra’, you see massive under-development. I went to Narhman, off the Dome-Haatso road, for the first time ever in 2010, to visit my cousin who is a Reverend Minister and involved in church planting in that surburb. We are kidding ourselves, no development is going on in this country.

The Best We Can Offer?

The passion we express on radio everyday should be transformed into righteous anger at how slow we are developing this nation.

What this nation needs is a revolutionary departure from the mental contraption that politics has turned most of us into, that makes us see everything in myopic, partisan colours. We should stop the delusion that we are doing well, when in reality we are like market warriors, brave men among children. The advancement we crave as a nation, a people, a continent will not come with this mediocrity of expectation, when peanuts are dropped onto our developmental plate in between elections, and grandiose plans are shared with us during campaigns and elections. And this goes beyond the politicians. Ordinary Ghanaians, you and I, civil servants, public workers, industry hands, managers – we all have to decide that we will put our hands to the wheel to drive Ghana Incorporated forward.

We cannot go forward otherwise, and we will stay stunted if we maintain status quo.