Danger looms at the Bepotrim M/A School in the Wenchi Municipality in the Bono Region as schoolchildren study in a dilapidated classroom block. The school, which runs a nursery, primary and junior high school (JHS), has a population of about 400 students and pupils, and 14 teachers, but most of them are not enthused about being in school as they have been haunted by the ‘death trap’ since 2020.
Located on the Wenchi-Buoku Highway, one of the old classroom blocks in the school, built with clay, has developed deep cracks, with parts of the roof of the structure ripped off, putting the lives of about 90 junior high schools (JHS) students and teachers at risk.
With the onset of the rains, the situation has worsened. On May 24, 2020, the headteacher, executives of the School Management Committee (SMC) and the ParentTeacher Association (PTA) sent a request to the Ghana Education Service (GES) to save the situation, after parts of the structure in which classes were held
In the interim, the school authorities resorted to teaching the Kindergarten (KG) pupils, who were then using the structure, under trees around the school to avoid any disaster. However, since nothing was done about the situation, the authorities had no choice but to return to the old structure three years ago.
The best management could do was to swap classrooms with the Kindergarten pupils and the Junior High School (JHS) students because the latter were more mature. Some students studying in the dilapidated structure
The situation was also affecting attendance as both teachers and students always abandon classes or vacate the premises for their safety anytime the clouds gathered. When the Daily Graphic visited the school, classes were in session, and it was observed that the pupils seemed distracted by the condition of their classrooms. On the day, not many of them were in class obviously because it had rained earlier that morning.
It was further observed that as a result of inadequate classrooms due to the bad condition of the structure, classes had been merged. Pupils in Kindergarten One and Two had been lumped in one classroom with two teachers, while Classes One and Two had also been combined in another classroom with two teachers. Classes Three and Four had also been combined under two teachers.
A source close to the school expressed concern about the situation and said the authority of the school had subsequently banned students from touching the structure, jumping and playing in the structure and around the school block as they feared that a little touch could lead to its collapse.
The source pleaded with the Wenchi Municipal Assembly and other duty bearers in the region to, as a matter of urgency, evacuate both teachers and learners from the structure and give them a safer place, even if on a temporary basis, the situation was seriously
disrupting teaching and learning.
Confirming the situation, the Chairman of the SMC, Vincent Kontene, told the Daily Graphic that the community and the authorities of the school had made several complaints through letters and verbally to the assembly since 2020, but had not received any positive results.
He said the Member of Parliament (MP) for Wenchi, Seidu Haruna, had started the construction of a three-unit pavilion to replace the old structure.
However, the project was at the foundation level, thus, Mr Kontene appealed to the MP to speed up work in order to save lives and improve teaching and learning The Bepotrim M/A School SMC Chairman also appealed to the MP and the assembly to consider expanding the three-unit pavilion to a complete six-unit classroom block to eliminate infrastructure deficit in the school.
When the Daily Graphic contacted the Wenchi Municipal Chief Executive (MCE), Alexander Obour Damoah, he said the assembly was very committed to addressing problems of the school and other schools with similar problems in the municipality.
He explained that the MP had started the construction of a pavilion, while he (Damoah) had also lobbied and secured support from a
non-governmental organisation to construct a six-unit classroom block for the school, indicating that all the processes had been completed for work on the facility to start soon.
“We are keen to address this challenge. Aside from what the NGO will be putting up for Bepotrim M/A School in particular, the government has also awarded a contract for the construction of some school blocks in the municipality to improve the educational infrastructure deficit,” the MCE stated.