If there is any deprived senior high school (SHS) in modern - day Ghana, then it is the Menji Agricultural Senior High School located in the Tain District in the Brong Ahafo Region.
After touring the facilities of the school, I said to the soft-spoken Headmaster of the school, Mr Paul Yaw Nsiede: “Sir please have my condolence”.
He burst into a prolonged laughter and stated afterwards: “I hope things will be better”, to take consolation in Ghanaian age-old cliché ebeye yie, that is, it shall be well”.
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The Headmaster - Mr Paul Yaw Nsiede
The school which was officially opened on February 15, 1993 with 15 students attained its 25th year of establishment this year.
It is one of the community schools in the country with a hostel facility which has never benefited from the Ghana Education Trust Fund (GETFund) since the institution of the fund.
In June 1993, a native of the town, Alhaji Amadu, visited the school and promised to lend his house to serve as a staff bungalow in addition to awarding scholarships to brilliant students. His visit yielded a positive result and increased enrolment of the school to 44.
Since then the school has gone through turbulence because of lack of adequate enrolment and infrastructure which has not enabled it to attract the needed qualified staff to boost academic performance of its students.
The recent implementation of the government’s free SHS Programme has been a blessing to the school since it helped place some students in the school.
Out of the current 300 students in the school, 200 are housed in the school’s hostel facility while 100 are day students.
Because of this situation, the senior students who are not beneficiaries of the Free SHS policy pay boarding fees to enable the school administration to feed them.
Even though the school is one of the few SHSs in the country with its focus on agriculture, only 39 out of the current 300 students are offering agriculture while the rest are into Business and General Arts.
The school kitchen
As if the school’s lack of adequate classrooms is not bad enough, it virtually has no administration block.
The headmaster’s office can be described as that of a village primary school headteacher with only few dilapidated office furniture not befitting a SHS.
The makeshift bathroom for the boys’ hostel, made up of aluminium sheet summed up the extent of deprivation and dilapidation of the infrastructure of this SHS while the few toilet facilities shared by both staff and female/male students are nothing to write home about.
It is amazing to see the structure being used as the school kitchen which looks like a makeshift structure in a typical structure on a farm.
Even though the school has three vehicles, a bus and two pickups, one of the pickups and the bus are broken down, leaving the only pickup used by the headmaster.
Mr Nsiede told the Daily Graphic that it was always difficult to convey students to institutions at Wenchi, about 30 kilometres away for their practical work.
Out of the 33-teaching staff, only eight are accommodated in some dilapidated bungalows which may not have seen painting for a decade or more while others have to commute daily from the district capital, Nsawkaw, which is about 15 kilometres away.
The lack of a wall around the school has given goats, sheep and dogs, among other animals, a free entry into the school.
This reporter witnessed a sorry state during the visit as the verandas of the school’s structures were littered with faecal matter of the visiting animals.
While the females have a hostel, they have no beds. In the case of the boys, some classrooms have been converted into a hostel, also without beds.
When contacted the Tain District Chief Executive (DCE), Madam Charity Akua Foriwaa Dwommoh, said the assembly would do its part to resource the school and appealed to the GETFund Secretariat to come to the aid of the school with the provision of infrastructure befitting its status.
The school toilet
It is in the midst of this sorry situation that students who have passed through the Menji Agricultural SHS competed with their counterparts in other parts of the country, such as Achimota SHS, St Augustine’s College, Opoku Ware SHS, Prempeh College, Sunyani SHS, Adisadel College, Presbyterian SHS, Legon, among others, to write the West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE).
Even though past examination results were very poor, current examination results had shown much more improvement.
For instance, in 2015, the school presented 67 students for the WASSCE and out of that, 21 students passed in all the eight subjects, 16 passed in seven subjects, 8 passed in six subjects and 17 passed in five subjects while none failed in all the subjects.
It is the wish of this writer that the government will turn its attention to this neglected school through the provision of the necessary infrastructure such as computer and science laboratories, library, administration block, dormitories, staff bungalows and a wall to enable it to take active part in the Free SHS Programme which continues to increase the number of students being admitted into SHSs.