There is a school of thought that the availability of a conducive learning environment, especially at the basic education level, ensures the provision of a sound academic foundation for school pupils.
Primary three pupils of Beo Tankoo primary school lying on the floor to take part in a lesson
However, a number of public basic schools in the Bongo District in the Upper East Region do not have such conducive environment to make teaching and learning a pleasurable and rewarding experience.
The current state of the Beo Tankoo and Beo Nayirekua primary schools in the district as seen by the Daily Graphic during a recent visit shows that one will not be right to entirely blame pupils and teachers of basic schools in such deprived communities for poor academic performance since such schools do not have the right environment for academic work to thrive.
At the Beo Tankoo Primary School, which has existed for many years, more than 300 school pupils are currently studying in dilapidated classrooms with its attendant consequences on the academic performance of the school pupils.
Pupils in kindergarten, class one, class two, class three and class four do not have furniture in their respective classrooms, compelling the school pupils to lie on the floor on a daily basis to study.
The situation is no different at the Beo Nayirekura Primary School where pupils of classes one, two, three, four and five also either sit or lie on the floor to take part in academic work.
Both schools do not have the required furniture for the school pupils to use, a development which has compelled many school children to drop out of school, since they cannot always lie on the floor in their quest to acquire formal education.
This includes many teenage school girls who have been forced to drop out of both schools, since they could no longer go to school and always sit and lie on the floor. Most of the dropouts,
some of them girls, end up on the streets and engage in all forms of vices leading to teenage pregnancy.
A primary five pupil of the Beo Tankoo Primary School, Prince Mba, told the Daily Graphic that he was always demotivated going to school since it was difficult sitting on the floor every day to learn.
“Due to the lack of furniture in the classroom, I sometimes feel reluctant to go to school,” he said
Another pupil of the same school in primary four, Portia Azenbugre, said she felt uncomfortable sitting on the floor to study.
She added that she sometimes experienced severe stomach and back pains while lying on the floor in the classroom.
She called for an immediate remedy to the problem to put smiles on the faces of the school pupils and improve academic performance.
Condition in classrooms
Some Class Six pupils of Beo Nayirekura having lessons while sitting on the floor while the fortunate ones among them sit on some dual desks
The condition of the classrooms is indeed an impediment to academic work as the school children have to lie with their faces to the ground to write exercises and do other academic work given to them by their teachers.
Many of the school pupils struggle to follow lessons being taught since they find it very difficult and uncomfortable to lie on their stomach every day to take part in academic work and do exercises as well.
The pupils in their daily struggle to acquire basic education contend with dust with its accompanying health conditions, as they lie on the dusty floor in their respective classrooms.
Another worrying development is the fact that the uniforms of the school pupils are always dirty, since they lie and sit on the floor to study, a situation which compels them to wash their uniforms every day to be able to attend school.
Some parents who cannot bear the situation where the uniforms of their children have to be washed every day have no option than to prevent their children from going to school, and this results in negative effects on their studies.
A common feature among the children is the fact that some of them doze off and eventually sleep while lessons are ongoing, since they lie on the floor.
Additionally, teachers in both schools face a herculean task teaching the pupils since the conditions in the schools are an impediment to effective teaching and learning.
Emmanuel Ayinpanga Akolgo — Assembly Member for Beo Tankoo
Having realised the poor state of the schools, the Assembly member for Beo Tankoo, Emmanuel Ayinpanga Akolgo, together with members of the communities where the schools are located, mobilised resources to tackle some of the pressing needs of the schools.
The community members re-roofed some classroom blocks which had their roofs ripped off by a rainstorm and cemented the floors and walls of some of the classroom blocks to make it a little bit conducive for the pupils.
Additionally, they provided some furniture to both schools about two years ago but it was not enough to meet the population of the school pupils in both schools, since the furniture deficit is huge.
The schools are, therefore, calling on non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and corporate bodies to come to their aid to address the furniture challenge in the schools since the district assembly is constrained in dealing with it.
Speaking to the Daily Graphic, Mr Akolgo said the situation in both schools in the area was very unfortunate and demotivating for the teachers and the pupils.
He wondered why in the 21st Century children would have to endure such experience on a daily basis in their bid to acquire formal education to become responsible adults.
He said “anytime I visit the school, I feel like shedding tears as a result of what the poor children go through”, adding “how do we expect these children to become academically good by lying on their bellies to study?”
He indicated that although he had made several appeals and sent follow-up letters to the district assembly, the schools had not received any assistance since the problem was widespread in the district.
“Therefore, I wish to appeal to benevolent and public-spirited individuals to immediately provide the schools with furniture, to put an end to the pupils sleeping on the floor to study,” he said.
The Chief of Beo Tankoo, Naba Akolgo Abugre, expressed worry that despite several visits and appeals to the district assembly over the years, the problem had still not been addressed.
He said it was very painful for the children to be subjected to such an experience and, therefore, called on all stakeholders, especially the government, to take steps to provide furniture for all schools in the district to enhance teaching and learning.
Rita Atanga — District Chief Executive, Bongo
The District Chief Executive for Bongo, Rita Atanga, in an interview with the Daily Graphic, acknowledged that the inadequate furniture was a challenge in basic schools in the district.
She, however, said that the assembly was doing everything possible to provide the needed furniture to enhance teaching and learning in the schools.
She stated that the assembly had received 200 desks from the District Education Directorate, while a contractor was currently manufacturing 300 additional desks for onward distribution to schools in the area.
She added “we are also procuring 1,200 desks to deal with the furniture deficit in the district”.
“I wish to assure parents, teachers and the school pupils that the assembly is concerned and will do everything possible to make available the needed furniture to improve academic work,” Ms Atanga said.