Boarding students at the Zamse Senior High/Technical School (ZAMSTECH), a 40-year-old public institution situated in Bolgatanga, Upper East regional capital, are taking their meals under trees for lack of a dining hall.
Authorities say no contract has been awarded for the construction of a dining hall for the school since its establishment in 1976. The students, whose dining timetable is often inconvenienced by unpredictable weather circumstances, also attend to the call of nature at a latrine owned by the institute but built several metres outside the campus as the space occupied by the school is too small to contain some essential amenities.
Management, amid unconfirmed reports of rape attempts made on female students whilst attending to nature’s call at that facility, converted a washroom used by the teaching staff on the school compound into a girls-only toilet to safeguard female students from external harm.
Whilst teachers now use the toilet on the administration block, the latrine outside the school grounds, which is in a lamentable state, is being shared by male students from the school and members of the community who live around the facility.
The popular school, where a number of famous figures like Isaac Adongo (a financial expert and current legislator for the Bolgatanga Central Constituency) acquired their secondary education and was once headed by David Adenze-Kangah (former Deputy Chairman of the Electoral Commission), is also short of classroom structures for first-year students.
Teaching and learning under canopies
Fresh students are being taught inside an uncompleted block where old canopies have been erected in makeshift classrooms to provide shade from harsh weather conditions. Students, for some years now, have always had to go through their entire first year in such a learning condition until final-year students graduate and hand down their classrooms to the juniors. The contractor in charge of that canopied classroom block is said to have abandoned site since 2014 after alleged failure on government’s part to pay him for work done so far.
With about 600 students crammed inside an open hall converted into a jumbo dormitory, a number of students have, in their response to overwhelming congestion, been sleeping inside uncompleted structures at their own peril. Teachers as well have been under pressure to deliver their best amid protracted accommodation challenges among other difficulties.
They have their quarters isolated far away from the small-sized campus. Two of the seven multi-storey buildings provided for them have been standing at a skeleton level, still far from finished since their foundation blocks were laid decades ago. Some of the teachers live miles away, two of them having travelled daily for years from Sandema in the Builsa North District and Navrongo in the Kassena-Nankana Municipality until their recent transfer from the school.
Authorities want school relocated
Authorities have, in view of the chronic setbacks, strongly proposed that the school be relocated as soon as possible.
The proposal came up strongly when the school celebrated its 40th anniversary at the weekend, highlighting its academic achievements and athletic laurels, under the theme: “Zamstech, Then, Now and Rising. Four Decades of Academic Excellence.”
The celebration itself was held at the school’s playing field, which, owing to the same limited space, is located outside the campus.
“[Owing] to the numerous problems on the school land to the extent that there is no space for expansion, coupled with the fact that the school is now in the middle of town which makes it difficult to have the students in school and thus maintaining discipline, Management is of the view that it is time for the school to be relocated to a more spacious site. This will enable Ghana Education Service to put the current site to some other important use to the advantage of all,” the headmaster, Francis Abel Banbogo, remarked.
Government in talks with landowners for land banks
In what may be a glitter of hope for the school, the Upper East Regional Minister, Rockson Ayine Bukari, who lamented its cramped space, told the anniversary crowd that efforts were underway to secure lands for infrastructure expansion in the region.
“One challenge I intend to tackle with all my ability as a Regional Minister is the issue about land for public facilities. Let us all take a look around this school compound. This school land is so small that expansion will certainly be a big challenge.
“I am in talks with Tindanbas (landowners) of the region as to how to support my administration to create land banks for future development. Very soon, when my deputy assumes office, we shall have interactions with our chiefs. This issue of land will be one of the major concerns we shall put before them,” Mr. Bukari assured.
The minister also guaranteed that the recurrent delays in the release of feeding grants to second-cycle intuitions would be a thing of the past from the next academic year.
“The free education programme under Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo’s government is going to clear this difficulty come next academic year,” he announced.