The Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) is threateing to disconnect power from the Ashanti School for the Deaf for owing the company accumulated electricity bill of GH₵ 80, 127.96.
The school authorities told Ghana News Agency (GNA) in an interview that the school is financially handicapped to settle such a whopping amount.
Mr Ofosu Boachie, Headmaster of the school who expressed worry over the disconnection threat said when it is carried out the pupils would not be able to communicate or study at night.
The school’s only source of income is government feeding grants of GH₵ 2.20p per pupil per day, which has, in recent times, been raised to GH₵3.3 but has not been effected.
“It is the feeding grant we rely on. It does not come regularly, that is what we manage to do maintenance, buy fuel and fire wood etc. We can’t even pay our creditors…they are always on us and we have to lie to them all the time,” Mr Boachie said.
He said though the school has a standby generator donated to it by Sokpo, a non-governmental organisation from the Netherlands, the authorities could not afford to pay the GH₵ 75 worth of fuel required to run it.
The cooks use fire wood, though the school has Liquefied Petroleum Gas tank which has been empty for nearly a year due to lack of funds.
The 595 disability students are living in bed-bugs-infested dormitories for two years and the authorities say they are financially weak to fight the pest-ridden creatures, because the charge for the fumigation process is GH₵ 1,200.
“We face serious challenges with the frequent light off, and some of the children ease themselves indiscriminately around the dormitories and the bathrooms at night because they cannot communicate to their colleagues to accompany them for nature’s call,” a teacher said on condition of anonymity.
“The situation becomes more serious when a child is sick at night, because how will he or she going to communicate or who can see the sign of he or she to find out what is wrong?”
Nearly 45 pupils are crammed into one classroom designed for 15 pupils due to acute deficiency in classrooms.
A teacher told the GNA that the classrooms are not carpeted and the walls are not acoustically treated to repel noise as required in any normal school of the deaf and so interferes with teaching and learning.
“Their living conditions are horrible and pitiable, the dormitories and the classrooms are overcrowded. We have to put chop boxes in the classrooms,” another teacher told the GNA under strict sense of anonymity.
Dozens of the children sleep on uncovered mattresses placed on the bare ground as there are no wooden slabs fixed on the three-in-one iron beds. These compel the children to squeeze themselves into the limited space.
A room designed for 10 three-in-one beds, contains about 20 beds.
Government infrastructural support has ceased for years leaving the school largely dependent on individuals’ support and benevolence of non-governmental organisations.
According to the officials, although the school had 15 of the government free school uniforms distributed last year, chalks, registers and vocational items or instruments are lacking.
The school’s administrative block, a six-classroom block and fence wall, are the only government assisted structures.
The rest of the institution’s structures including dining hall were put up, notably, by Sokpo, Japanese and German governments, local residents living in Canada and with intermittent support from the Otumfuo Education Fund.
The authorities say but for lack of infrastructure, the school could have admitted more than 40 children on the waiting list.
Parents’ frustration for not getting admission coupled with social stigmatisation and inability of using sign language to communicate with their children account for, dozens of children with disabilities feared locked up at homes, the school bosses noted.
A 13 year- old Nana Yaw Kwarteng, blind and intellectually challenged was locked up for years at home and could not talk but through social interaction in the school he could now chat, at least rattle “Mr Frog Mr Frog go into the box”.
But his teacher appealed for a white cane to give to Nana and support children like him to develop their talents.
The school which started with 24 pupils in 1977 now has 337 boys and 258 girls, who are largely deaf or dumb and deaf, some intellectually challenged, blind and deaf-blind.
Nearly half of these children have lost both of their parents or belong to a single parent, said a senior tutor who pleaded anonymity.
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