The Upper West Regional Communication Team of National Democratic Congress(NDC) has revealed the magnitude at which Senior High School Students are being starved in Schools within the Region.
18th May, 2022.
STARVATION AND OVER CROWDING HITS FREE SHS IN THE UPPER WEST REGION.
The NDC in the Upper West Region is appalled by the very disturbing levels of starvation and overcrowding that has hit public Senior High Schools in the Region.
While the NDC is not oblivious of the fact that, the Akufo Addo government’s shabby implementation of the Free SHS Program has sadly turned Senior High Schools to live in the pale shadows of their glorious past, we are shocked that, this government would commercialize its insensitivity, by exposing these young ones to such inhumane treatment.
Our painstaking investigation in to the matter reveals the fact that, this government has criminally failed to fulfil its sacrosanct obligation of settling arrears owed suppliers of food and other allied essentials to the various schools. The said arrears that are estimated to be running into several millions of Ghana Cedis, have stalled the businesses of several suppliers, resulting in the acute shortage of foodstuff and other essential consumables in all Senior High Schools within the region.
It is sad to note that, this unacceptable turn of events has caused several students to resort to hunting shea fruits, mangoes and other wild fruits as a copping mechanism, to supplement the meagre meals they are served in the dining halls. It is shameful to note that, as a remedial measure to cover up this ill treatment of SHS students, government has surreptitiously vacated all SHS Two (2) students on today the 18th May,2022 , about three weeks ahead of the scheduled vacation for continuing students.
We see this move as shameful and very much reprehensible.
As though the starvation of thousands of teenagers in our second cycle institutions isn’t enough to prick their conscience, the level of overcrowding in the various senior high schools is simply unacceptable. It baffles us that, the NPP government continues to feign blindness at this canker with all the inconveniences and setbacks it places on our educational system.
It is trite knowledge that, five years in the implementation of the Free SHS Policy, the NPP Government has failed to make any significant contribution towards expanding the infrastructure in these schools, to create room for access.
It is even more disheartening to note that, the government has criminally abandoned a long list of uncompleted school infrastructure projects handed over to them by the erstwhile Mahama regime. Beyond the numerous dormitory blocks, dining hall projects, class room blocks, assembly halls, staff accommodation projects among others in almost all secondary schools in the region, the government has abandoned the much hailed community day schools (E-Block) projects in Zini (Sissala West), Wellembele (Sissala East), Boo (Lawra Municipality), Konzokala ( Jirapa Municipality), Naro (Nadowli-Kaleo District) and Dorimon ( Wa West District).
This situation has exacerbated the infrastructural deficit in many of these secondary schools. This has resulted into the ‘eye-sore’ of housing students in dining halls and uncompleted classroom blocks.
Another evolving canker in the poorly implemented free SHS Program is the sudden exponential rise in the number of day students, within schools that were previously noted to be strictly boarding schools. The prevailing situation where thousands of Senior High School Students in the Region are admitted into boarding schools as “NON RESIDENT” students, does not only impede the enforcement of discipline in the schools, but also exposes these teenagers, particularly the teenage girls to the vagaries and vulnerabilities of societal vices.
Furthermore, it is a slap on the face of “affordability”, which is supposed to have been one of the cardinal principles on which the policy of free secondary education is anchored.
It goes without any ambiguity to contend that, because of government’s lack of priority in addressing the challenges emanating from the free SHS implementation, government has deliberately resorted to de-boardinising a significant number of qualified students, as a decoy to cover -up their inability to finance the policy. This deliberate but unpopular policy has saddled parents of affected students, with a huge financial burden, since they have to now rent accommodation and bear the cost of feeding and other living expenses of their wards.
We find it regrettable that, the much trumpeted policy which was supposed to improve access, equity and quality in our secondary education, has rather depleted the decades of gains made in our educational system, by creating unnecessary bottlenecks. The botched free SHS policy has watered down the region’s strife at eliminated poverty and vulnerabilities through education.
It is sad that, President Akufo Addo and the NPP will derelict their sacred responsility to the good people of the Upper West Region. We call on all stakeholders, traditional rulers, sons and daughters of the Upper West Region, to hold this irresponsible government, to the task of restoring the lost glory of secondary education in the Upper West Region.
Regional Communications Officer