Students of the Begoro Presbyterian Senior High School and other schools in the catchment area have been without a functional science laboratory since 2011, with a telling impact on the performance of its science students.
The contract for the rehabilitation of the science resource centre at Begoro was awarded to Messrs MOFERG Company Limited, in November 2010 at a total sum of GH¢130,152.9 for completion in four calendar months ending 28th February 2011.
According to Mr Daniel Mensah, Headmaster of the school, the contractor abandoned the project after doing some initial work, which left the building in worse shape than it was. He said the contractor had removed the fittings in the two-storey building, and done a first cast of terrazzo but had not come there since then.
Mr Mensah, who met the building in this state upon assumption of office in February this year, said the abandonment of the project had made teaching and learning of science very difficult for the school.
“…as I speak, we don’t have any science labs and it’s making teaching and learning of science very difficult for us, no place to do practical work…we’ve just had to pick a classroom and put a few chemicals that they think are active and use it, basically for theory and minor practicals,” he stated.
He was speaking to some members of the Public Interest and Accountability Committee (PIAC) and the Institute of Financial and Economic Journalists (IFEJ) who inspected the facility as part of PIAC’s monitoring tours of projects funded with oil revenues in the Eastern Region of Ghana.
Mr Mensah bemoaned the fact that the school was not consulted or informed of the decision to rehabilitate the facility or the award of the contract, saying the practice did not allow the beneficiaries to supervise the work.
The former head of the school, he noted, had no knowledge of the award of the contract until the contractor presented a letter from the Ministry of Education showing he had been given the contract.
Mr Mensah said the numbers of Science student in the school had since been dwindling, having reduced from about 500 science students in all the levels to about 300.
“It has posed a serious challenge, for instance, our science students, when they come and see the situation, the next moment, they apply for transfer and they go because we don’t have any good environment for science,” he said, adding that it had affected sister schools in Nsuta and Osino who also used the resource centre.
Mr Benard Bimpong, Integrated Science and Biology teacher at the School, said although the lack of a resource centre had greatly impacted on the studies of science, they were doing their best to make do with the little they had, which was a makeshift lab consisting of a classroom with tables and a few scientific instruments.
Mr Samuel Obeng, a teacher and old student of the Begoro Presby SHS, said the school’s science equipment such as beakers, had broken in the process of removing them from the science resource centre to make way for the rehabilitation, adding that it was a challenge using the makeshift lab as there was not access to water.
The large numbers of new student also meant that the classrooms being used were likely to be converted back into classrooms to accommodate the new students, just as the abandoned science resource centre were now being used.
“Those days (when they had a science lab) we used to have A1, and B2s but these days because of all these challenges, this year our best grade in Chemistry was B3 unlike those days. The numbers keep going down; when the parents come and see the makeshift lab, they don’t allow their wards to come,” he said noting that the number of science students per year had gone down from about 70 to 33 this year.
The team gathered from the school that a formal request has been made to the Member of Parliament for the area, who has committed to follow up on the matter to ascertain why the project had been abandoned.
The District Chief Executive of the Fanteakwa District Assembly, where the school is located, also pledged to follow up on the matter with the regional office of the Architectural and Engineering Services Limited (AESL), who were the supervisors of the project, as well as the Ministry of Education.