696 pupils but just four classrooms

29th September 2000 at 01:00
WINKOGO primary school, five kilometres south of Bolgatanga, has 696 pupils and just four classrooms.

Parents got together and built another. But 10 years later it still waits for the local authority to pay for roof sheets.

As a result, the school runs from 7am to 5pm on two shifts, though this only provides about five hours a day teaching for each child, and in classes of 50 or more.

The children, who are mostly from the Fra fra ethnic group, may also have a five- or six-kilometre walk to school and back.

They are keen to learn but poor. Many arrive without pens or pencils let alone uniform or the 4,000 cedis (60p) a year they are supposed to contribute for sport and cultural activities.

Robert Akendoe, the head, says that, after buildings, curriculum materials are most needed. The 138 pupils in the top year have 12 books for science but none for English and maths.

"Sometimes we only have one book per class. We spend mos of our lesson time writing text on the board rather than teaching" says Mahama Sajeed, assistant headteacher.

With no accommodation near the school teachers have to rely upon erratic bush taxis from nearby Bolgatanga and frequently arrive late. But Robert Akendoe says the in-service training supported by Link is improving teacher motivation and performance.

The whole community looks froward to linking with a UK school.

Naba Moses Aganzuah, the village chief, says "If we can have a little push, we can come together to develop the school. My life is development."

The school is also part of the Catholic Relief Scheme which provides a meal to every child to encourage attendance.

Girls achieving 85 per cent attendance are also given oil, corn and salt each month to take home. The TES Education for All campaign is demanding a primary place for every child in the world. Some 130 million children do not get even the most.

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