Last Thursday, I was fortunate enough to go on a field visit to Sonyo and assist in the inspection of a newly completed government project. It this instance, the project was a 3-unit classroom block intended for Upper Primary grades.
The project was completed nearly 6 months ago and the purpose of this visit was to record any defects for the contractor to correct. In attendance was the District Planning Officer (DPO), the District Budget Officer (DBO), the Planning Officer from Ghana Education Services (GES), the school’s headmaster, the contractor, the district’s driver, and myself.
The district officers were quite happy to highlight the inclusion of an access ramp for people with disabilities at the entrance of the new facility. These are mandated from the national government for all new educational structures.
As with most times, whenever my camera comes out, so do the children.
Along with the new classroom block, the project also included for the construction of urinals (not shown) and a series of Kumasi Ventilated-Improved Pit (KVIP) Latrines. There are 2 private rooms for boys and 2 private rooms for girls.
On the left side of the photo, you can see the concrete septic tank behind the structure and just a portion of the pipe providing ventilation. There are 4 separate tanks, each having its own ventilation pipe. These facilities provide a safe and sanitary environment for the children, so that they can focus on their studies.
All of the structures were completed with excellent craftsmanship and were seen to be in regular use by students.
In addition to the inspection, I was able to learn many new things about the other schools here. From what I was told, the Ghana education system is made up of the following school and grade levels:
- Kindergarten (KG) 1, 2
- Lower Primary 1, 2, 3
- Upper Primary 4, 5, 6
- Junior High School (JHS) 1, 2, 3
- Senior High School (SHS) 1, 2, 3
Sonyo does not have a SHS yet. So, there are a total of 11 classrooms, ranging from KS to JHS. All are within sight of each other. The old Upper Primary classrooms constructed as an open air structure, made up of mud bricks, wood, and a metal roof is located just behind the new structure. Then there is the Lower Primary classroom block and behind that, the headmaster’s living quarters (not shown). Because of the new structure, the old classrooms can now be used to teach the KG students.
The Junior High School is just a short walk away, through a pack of goats and sheep.
At the end of our tour, I talked a little with the GES Planning Officer and school headmaster, who collectively gave me some insight into the make-up of the schools. There are a total of 387 kids attending the different classrooms. This means that on average there are 35 children in each classroom. Oddly enough, GES uses this same value of 35 to determine the ideal classroom size when planning for future development. I will also be using this figure many times when analyzing the data my department has on hand.
On the way out of town, we were able to pass the teachers’ quarters. A new structure with 3 self-contained units. Located on the main road and just a few minute walk to the school, this building seems to be ideally positioned to give teachers an easy commute to work and an enjoyable living during the school year.
These buildings and the 8 teachers on hand will give Sonyo’s school children the tools they need to gain a great education. I’m looking forward to what the future has in store for these bright young minds.