Accommodation challenges facing the Mangoase Senior High School (MASS) have compelled the headmaster of the school to cede part of his two-bedroom bungalow to female students of the school.
Close to 50 students are occupying the headmaster’s kitchen and sitting room, with some sleeping on the about 20 beds available, while others sleep on mattresses on the floor.
To enter his room, the Headmaster, Mr Albert K. Worfa, passes through the garage, while cooking is done in the open.
There is a blockade that prevents the students from interfering with the headmaster’s space and privacy, and vice versa.
The school has a boarding population of 420, with 270 being girls and 150 being boys.
On a hot day, life becomes very uncomfortable. Ceiling fans spin furiously in vain to blow away the steamy hot air flooding in from the compound.
One student sums up the problem: “The room feels like an oven. Sleeping here with our bags as pillows is very difficult.”
The only bath house for the 270 girls is a ramshackle structure that can take only six students at a time.
“In the morning, long queues are formed here just for us to bathe and prepare for school,” another student said.
If the situation for the girls is bad, that of the boys is no different. Besides the struggle for decent accommodation, there is no water at the boys’ dormitory and the students have to rely on the heavily polluted River Densu for their domestic activities.
Their woes do not end there. Because there is no dining hall, the students are forced to use their classrooms or any convenient place to take their meals.
The library is a room that best qualifies to be a storeroom, as stack of books compete with two sewing machines and some foodstuffs. The only bookshelf is packed neatly with books described by the students as “irrelevant to our subjects”.
That is not all.
The computer laboratory is virtually on hibernation, as the close to 1,000 students have to devise means to study Information and Communications Technology, which is now a core subject in SHS, with eight computers that, on a bad day, only blink and stay so for the rest of the day.
Opened on January 27, 1992, MASS is among the most deprived senior high schools in the country.
The school, located at Tetteh-Kofi village in the Akuapem South District in the Eastern Region, is accommodated in the buildings of the defunct Cocoa Services Division.
Domestic animals take advantage of the absence of a school wall to roam on the school compound, leaving behind trails of animal droppings.
Speaking to the DAILY GRAPHIC, Mr Worfa said the school was opened as a community school but later adopted the hostel system to enable students from outside Mangoase to access secondary education in the area.
The hostel system, he stated, had been transformed into the boarding system, while the school awaited approval from the GES.
To deal with accommodation, the Ghana Education Trust Fund (GETFund) has started the construction of two single-storey buildings to meet the accommodation needs of the students.
With all those challenges, results of the school in the West Africa Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) can be very predictable, even though efforts to get the school’s WASSCE results over the years did not prove successful.
The headmaster told the Daily Graphic that the performance of the students was average.
After running two years without a Board of Governors, the school finally got it its board sworn into office on Thursday.
The 11-member board led Mr Ransford Tetteh, President of the Ghana Journalist Association and Editor of the Daily Graphic , is expected to, among other things,serve as an advisory body to the headmaster.
The body would also control the general policy of the institution, subject to further directives of the Minister of Education through the Ghana Education Service Council.
Addressing the new board members, Ms Adriana Kandilinge, the Eastern Regional Director of Education, said the board had been appointed at a time senior high schools in the country faced numerous challenges including accommodation, infrastructure, and poor academic performance.
She, therefore, urged the board members to use their rich experience, with the help of the school’s Parent Teacher Association, to find solutions to the myriad of challenges facing the school.
The Regional Director also urged the board to be circumspect in its dealings to ensure that the usual friction between school boards and heads of the schools did not arise.
While commending members of the old board for their sacrifice over the years, she said, “We trust that with your experience and high standard, decisions taken will serve the best interest of the staff and the school as a whole.”
“The board must cooperate with staff, students and Parent-Teacher Association and the community to ensure that peace prevails. When peace prevails, then everybody’s attention will be focused on how to fufil the school’s mission and vision of excellence to the optimum,” she said to a wild applause from the students.
The new Chairman of the Board of Governors of MASS, Mr Ransford Tetteh, promised that the days of deprivation and struggle would soon be over for the school.
He gave an assurance that the board would do all it could to change the face of the school and leave it better than it was now.
Mr Tetteh, who shared his experience as a child in a community not far from Mangoase, said, “We can lift ourselves from this small community and challenge all the big schools in Ghana and make it to the university if we are determined to. There are people from those big schools who are not able to qualify for the university.”
Source Graphic Ghana