Imagine a community where the person with the highest qualification is a Junior High School (JHS) graduate and even the number of JHS graduates is just five in number. Children in this community have to walk about five kilometers through a dangerous route with a constant fear of being attacked by wild animals found in this bush.
The oldest child who can speak a semblance of English Language has never been to school due to the fact that as a child, he was not motivated to be in school due to the distance of the school to his community. Andrew as he prefers to be called decided not to go to school but is ready to support his siblings to be in school if government puts up a structure for his community.
The above is the story of Tandabouri a community in the Wa West district which is about 35 minutes drive from the Upper West Regional capital Wa where the future of the children look bleak as their quest to get an education is being hindered by the absence of a school building.
Parents in this community are not ready to risk allowing their children to go to school at the nearest community, Eggu which is about 5 kilometers away from Tandabouri for fear of their children being attacked by animals who may be lurking in the bushes engulfing the only road to that community.
The development has forced parents to either carry their children to the market, farms or leave them with their older siblings which they say is risky.
Madam Kenyirima Lambert a 30 year old mother of two who spoke to Starr News believes the lives of their children is in the hands of God since according to her, leaving her little child with the older one is risky. She intimated, “sometimes when we leave the little ones with the older children, they play and forget of their younger brothers and sisters. Sometimes they play very close to sources of fire and I think it is only God that is protecting them”.
Madam Kenyirima believes if a school is put up for the community it will help them as they will leave the children at the school and also focus on taking care of the home. She said, “If we get a school here, we can leave all our children there and whiles they learn we can also be working to take care of the home”.
Andrew Anpenaa a 22 year old young man who also spoke to Starr News said, “I did not go to school because our community is far from Eggu where the school is and we did not have people to encourage us to go there. If we were encouraged from the beginning, we would have been eager to continue no matter where the school is located”.
“If our community is given a school, I will personally force my siblings to go to school”, Andrew stressed.
Assembly member for Eggu Godfred Bukari is not happy either and tells Starr News that the situation demands an “all hands on deck” approach. He said, “We can’t risk the lives of the children by forcing them to walk such a long distance for education. Some of these children are so small that they can’t be allowed to walk to school. We are therefore appealing to government and other stakeholders to help us with a school”.
Queen mother to the rescue
Proving that women are really the backbone for development in the various communities, the Queen Mother of Tandabouri 55 year-old Annobaala Tuonaa has initiated moves for the community to start their own school.
Madam Annobaala who spoke to Starr News believes it is unacceptable that their children will walk such a long distance of 5 kilometers to acquire knowledge coupled with the dangers on the road.
She said, “I have not been to school and I can’t sit for my children to go through the same ordeal I went through. So together with my people we have decided to take our destiny into our own hands to put up a school for our children”.
To make this a reality, the community started a school in the local Pentecostal Church building in the area while they wait for resources to put up a three unit classroom block for the children who number over 80.
Madam Annobaala disclosed that each member of the community is being levied one cedi each month to support the building of the three unit classroom block
The New shed school headed by Iddi Daniel
To show how committed they are with regard to building their own school, they have erected a shed where over 30 children are receiving basic numeracy skills from a Complementary Basic Education trained volunteer Iddi Daniel who is a JHS leaver.
Mr. Iddi who handles the children whose ages range from two years to twelve years says he needs additional hands to support in teaching them. Speaking to Starr News he said, “I was trained by the CBE people to come and support my community and I must say this is the third time I am doing this. The initial attempts failed due to the absence of a classroom but this time Plan Ghana is helping us find ways of putting up a classroom block for the children”.
“I need two more people to support me in teaching these children. As you can see I am the only one here and I can’t handle all of them”, he added.
Plan International’s intervention
Plan Ghana an international NGO operating in the Upper West Region which engaged the community through the Communication for Development (C4D) Project is excited at the initiative taken by the community.
Project Coordinator for the C4D project which is a partnership between Plan and UNICEF Lila Adom Yamuah disclosed that she is happy the community is working to address the key challenges facing them after their engagement.
She said, “when we met the community during a durbar, the mentioned the challenge with the school building, birth registration and the absence of proper toilet facilities in the community. So I am happy they are taking steps to address these challenges and I believe other communities can adopt such initiatives to support themselves”.
Source: Ghana/StarrFMonline.com/103.5FM/Musa Lansah