Thank you, Mr Speaker.
Mr Speaker, I associate myself with this important Statement related to basic education in our country, the issue of the physical infrastructure, which in some areas, is nothing to write home about.
Mr Speaker, indeed, the Ministry of Education and its many agencies have done so well by trying to get our children from buildings that are not of the nature of what we call “schools”, either under a tree or in some other context. But increasingly, we have more children still in those situations as a result of massive population growth, and also the shift in our population to areas where it was not anticipated that children would need schools at that time.
Mr Speaker, the Sustainable Develop- ment Goals (SDGs) pillar four, indicates that all nations should ensure inclusive and equitable quality education. When we look at that against what we see, we have some challenges that we would need to address.
Mr Speaker, indeed, what is happening in Bia West, my constituency in the Western Region is that, we have a lot of rural to rural migration from different parts of Ghana, towards the cocoa farms. When they settle in the area, they initiate their own schools, so within a short time, a school is initiated, either as a private school or as a school started by a faith based organisation. The buildings that they erect to house these schools are just like chicken coops.
Mr Speaker, it is not something sanctioned by the District Assembly, but they are in a hurry to give an opportunity to these children to get a school. So, what happens in the course of time is that, these buildings do not stand the test of time because they were not planned and built well. The numbers grow, and they are compelled to stay in these buildings.
Mr Speaker, what has happened, as my fellow Hon Member indicated, is that, we have some dangerous buildings in some parts of the country, and it is unfortunate that when we talk about quality, we do not include these buildings. Evidently, the buildings are also critical. If we do not have a safe building, we may not have a good place to have the whole educational experience.
Mr Speaker, as much as has been done by the nation, it is still a challenge, and I associate myself with the saying that we need a universal inspection of all the schools in this country. At a minimum, in each District Assembly, we have a works' engineer. So, if the District Director of Education is tasked with the works' engineer in each district, at a minimum, they should be able to see whether the building is safe for the children.
Mr Speaker, also, Hon Members of the House and the District Assemblies should take quick action in terms of mobilising everybody to volunteer and ensure that new buildings are quickly built for these children, who are the future leaders of our country.
Mr Speaker, a much bigger issue looms. A lot of our schools in this country are faith-based institutions. We have the Catholic Church, the Ahmadiyya and all the religious groups here. When we see
the cathedrals and the mosques that are built next to the school, it is almost obscene to see such a nice building next to a school which is dilapidated.
Mr Speaker, So, it may require some very concerted effort on the part of Government, but also on the part of faith- based organisations, so that they express their own collective effort to help the country by helping with these buildings.
Otherwise, we may have some nice buildings next to the schools, but the schools could be a dangerous spot, and in fact, the children do not do so well, such that we wonder whether in future any of them could progress to become a pastor or a minister of any of these bodies or become middle income people who could even contribute to those faith-based organisations.
Mr Speaker, I therefore, believe that some immediate action should be taken because this is at the doorstep of merely every district in our country.
Mr Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity.