.Government’s reluctant to pay over 530K light bill owed by Accra Technical Training Center (ATTC) School is seriously affecting the innocent students in their studies.
Students as a result of the situation now study in the night with torches and under street lights outside the school.
As President Akufo-Addo and his sector Minister for Education, Dr. Yaw Adutwum tout themselves for innovatively improving skills – based Schools (TVET) and continuously encouraging parents to enroll their children into skills – based Institutions with job- prospective courses. Unfortunately however,
the Accra Technical Training Center (ATTC) one of the premium Technical Training Institutions in the country, established 1966, in Kokomlemle, a suburb of the Ayawaso Center Municipality in the Greater Accra Region and purely owned by government, is, for the first time in it’s history, experiencing total darkness and has been continously for the past two months. Information available revealed that, officials of ECG from the GreaterAccra regional office of the ECG entered into the school premises somewhere in May this year to demand payment of an accumulated light bill which ran into Five Hundred and Thirty Thousand Ghana Cedis (530,000),
threatening to cut the school off the national grid.
The school authorities, according to the information, engaged the ECG officials in hot negotiations and , after series of frantic phone calls, an emergency meeting was scheduled for repayment dialogue among Gov’t, ECG and the school authorities. At the said meeting, Gov’t is reported to have promised
ECG some repayment terms but failed to honour this promise.
As the efforts by ECG to retrieve its money through dialogue had failed, there was no option than go ahead to disconnect the school.
The school authorities were therefore to only see another team of ECG officials in the first week of August, climbing the light pole that supplied the school and removing the main cable without any communication with the school authorities, sources said. *CHALLENGES*
ATTC is purely a skilled training center that offers job – prospective courses like; Car Bodyworks and Spraying, Electricals, Welding and Fabrication, Electronics and Carpentry.
Other courses are Computer Hardware, Offsets Printing, Painting and Decoration, Construction, Automobile and Mechanical Engineering. But the situation has rendered learning ineffective for the past two months, because almost all the courses offered by the school are practical-based, thereby depending solely on light. Theory is little.
However, this also means that for the past two months, there’ has been no effective learning going on in the school, as students only come to learn theory without practicals.
As a Teacher expressed quietly,
“We don’t have boarding for students, rather we operate hostel facilities for students from outside Accra at a fee”.
*ORDEALS OF STUDENTS* A visit to the school premises in the night revealed the shocking atmosphere stated earlier that some students who stay in the hostel within the school campus were seen learning with torch lights while others were seated under the street lights outside the school premises, learning.
As the school is located within the heart of Accra, some students have taken advantage of the situation to go roaming around in the night. Some of the students who spoke to us, expressed their worry. ”We stay in the school hostel on campus and have been paying for hostel fees which include light bill every term. But for over two months, we have been staying in darkness, as you see; we use torch lights and seat under the street lights outside to learn. We sometimes learn with the aid of light reflection from the auditoriums of the two churches here in the school, the Pentecost International Worship Center (PIWC) and the International Central Gospel Church (ICGC).
The churches depend on their generators, so, are not affected by the disconnection. Even, sometimes, in the mornings, we have to go to nearby houses to beg them to iron our uniforms. We don’t even understand why we should go through all these. After paying our hostel fees, we are staying in darkness. This situation has made learning difficult and frustrating, and this is gradually affecting us academically”.
They appealed to the government to urgently fulfill its obligations. Noted, that most of their colleagues who are day- students no longer come to school regularly as they used to, because they only spend two and half hours in the class learning theories without practicals, after which they just hang around, doing nothing until closing time.
In turn, some of the day students also lamented that, transportation from home to school is a waste to them, as there’s no serious learning going on.
*FRUSTRATION OF TEACHERS*
Though the school authorities refused to comment on the situation, insiders who spoke to us under strict anonymity, vented their frustrations. They said, the teachers have become redundant because when they come to school, they do absolutely nothing,: they only come to sit down because they are obliged to come to school. Surprisingly, they indicated that, as the school is a skilled and practical based Institution, some of their departments like Automobile and Mechanical Engineering, Car Bodyworks and Spraying, Welding and Fabrication, Carpentry, Electronics and Electricals render services to the general public and some governments institutions at a fee, and through that they generate funds internally (IGF) for government. “All our internally -generated funds are paid to government through the consolidated fund”. They urged the Minister for Education, Dr. Adutwum, to intervene so as to avert the situation and deem it as part of his horned dream to see all TVET schools function effectively. According to them, some of the departmental heads have proposed to the authorities of the School for separate departmental meters from ECG, ”this means that each department can have its meter and pay for its light bill through the departmental internally- generated revenue and they will not depend on the School’s main mater”.
A phone call to the office of the authority in- charge of TVET, to ascertain what is being done about the situation, yielded no results.