By: Mohammed Nurudeen Salifu
For several years, children in Attakrom had to attend classes in temporary sheds or travel to nearby communities to attend school. This meant that anytime there was a storm or rain, classes had to be halted abruptly as both teachers and pupils escaped to the nearest house.
“Now, our children have a good school and they attend classes in these new classrooms,” says Asomah Adjei, a 76-year old farmer and opinion leader in the community. He and other citizens are not only excited about the new classrooms but the role that they played in ensuring that a good school was provided for their community.
Through the USAID-funded Ghana’s Strengthening Accountability Mechanisms (GSAM) project, a civil society organization working in the area – MAP International – worked with the citizens to monitor the classroom project when it was being constructed and they had a number of interface meetings with the Assembly and the contractor to address areas of concern.
“We were visiting the project often to see how work is going on and we discussed our issues with the Assembly. We even supported the contractor by weeding the place,” Mr Adjei narrated. He said one of the issues that they raised was about the absence of a disability friendly passage for pupils with physical disability and the assembly responded positively to their concern.
“The contractor came later to construct a passage for the disabled,” he said, pointing to that portion of the classroom block. The farmer also pointed, proudly, to another classroom block that is being constructed next to the newly-completed classroom block as another example of how their engagement with the assembly had yielded some results for the community.
“During one of the GSAM meetings, we pleaded with the District Chief Executive to provide us more classroom blocks because pupils from classes one to six are sharing the space in the three-classroom block and he agreed. So they came and started building the new one,” he said.
The Assembly Member for the Gyaase Electoral Area, Hon. Seth Yeboah believes that the community’s role in monitoring the construction of the three-classroom project and sharing their feedback helped to make the school project a success because it was completed in time and of appreciable quality.
He noted that previously citizens showed little or no concern when projects were being executed in their communities because they considered the projects as ‘aban deᴣ’ (government’s projects). In the absence of citizen involvement, projects were sometimes poorly constructed or abandoned.
“But since the MAP people brought this GSAM initiative, the people have shown a lot of interest in the projects in their community and have been participating in meetings to discuss the projects,” he said.