On January 24, eight school children who were among 20 others drowned when their boat capsized on their way from their village, Atigagorme, to school at Wayokope, a neighbouring fishing community in the Sene East District of the Bono East Region.
On January 27, we wrote an editorial titled ‘Provide schools in deprived communities to save lives’, in which, as the title suggests, we made an appeal for the construction of schools in such deprived communities.
We recall part of that editorial to bring alive our appeal: “The current disaster should inform policy makers to ease some of the conditions for or the restrictions on provision of schools in certain communities, particularly regarding the number of children to attend the school.
We think it is about time school infrastructure was provided in certain deprived communities like Atigagorme to save young lives and also save some children the trouble of making dangerous journeys to and from school.”
We are happy that the Ghana Education Service (GES), led by its Director-General, Dr Eric Nkansah, is going to construct a school at Atigagorme to stop the children there from crossing the lake to attend school elsewhere.
That decision has come too late but good enough because it is going to solve a life-threatening problem, and be a solution to safeguard the lives of children.
Children are a precious asset of every nation because they symbolise the hope that the society would continue to be in existence and in the expected strength.
Just imagine that Japan, for instance, is worried about its lowering birth rates and so is putting in measures to encourage more births to sustain the country.
Japan is said to have seen record-low births since 2016 according to a 2021 survey and that statistically, Japanese women are expected to have an average of 1.3 children over their lifetime while the country expects them to have 2.1 for a sustainable population.
Therefore, the government is giving financial support to ease problems parents would face for caring for more children.
We are referring to the Japanese scenario to paint a picture of how precious children are to a nation and the need to ensure their good care and safety.
In our case, the government does not give any financial support for the care of children and so it should not shirk its responsibilities regarding facilities for ensuring the proper growth, development and safety of children.
The Atigagorme disaster and our February 4 story about more than 300 school children from C.K Korpe and surrounding island communities in the Biakoye District in the Oti Region risking their lives daily by crossing the Volta Lake to access education in Tapa Abotoase should prompt the government to provide schools in all deprived communities, even if classes would be held in pavilions made of local materials for a start.
After all, it is on record that some prominent persons in this country attended basic school in classrooms made of bamboo.
While waiting for the schools to be provided, the necessary interim measures like the life jackets Dr Nkansah has provided to the Atigagorme community must be seriously considered.