The Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT), is advocating mandatory swimming tutorials for teachers posted to island communities.
The association believes, that will be an effective intervention for teachers to save their lives in the events of boat disasters and sustain the human resource base of the teacher’s front.
The leadership of Ghana’s largest teacher union made the recommendation at a ceremony to present some life jackets to its members at Kudorkope in the Krachie East District of the Oti Region.
The first half of the year has recorded five separate incidents of boat disasters killing in excess of twenty people including teachers and pupils.
Faana in the Ga South Municipality, Kete Krachi and Atigagorme in the Sene East District are few of the Islands that have recorded tragic boat incidents this year.
In the Island communities, the use of canoes is the only means by which residents commute from one village to the other.
However, factors including excessive overloading of passenger canoes, non availability of life saving jackets, natural cause and other forms of human induced errors continue to pose threats to marine commuters on islands.
The situation appears to be dire in the Krachi East and West Districts of the Oti Region, as teachers and pupils risk commuting on the Oti River to attend school each day on another island amidst bad climatic conditions.
Narrating his ordeal, a teacher at Kudorkope, Addo Prosper explained how he survived a horrific canoe disaster earlier this year in a quest to access money from his bank at Dambai, the Oti Regional capital.
He revealed that the islands were such that if you did not go to town early and return, by 12 noon all canoes providing shuttle services would have closed and you would be compelled to spend extra day or days in Dambai.
With terrifying flashbacks, he painfully narrated that he was eventually saved when the other three members aboard realised that he didn’t know how to swim and was fast drowning.
However, other teachers have been unfortunate in similar disasters.
The Krachi West District alone has 46 island settlements but only 21 have schools in which trained teachers have been posted.
The GNAT has initiated steps to prevent death of its members resulting from boat disasters.
Consequently, the association as part of its welfare package has been supporting its members on the islands with life jackets.
Kudorkope hosted the brief event to present some 251 life jackets to GNAT member in 18 schools.
The gesture will also be replicated on other islands in other regions.
Addressing the gathering, President of GNAT, Rev. Isaac Owusu accused the Ghana Education Service (GES), of reneging on its responsibility to fulfil requirements of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, urging that the safety of teachers on islands were prioritised.
Rev. Owusu proposed to GES not to post teachers who had no experience in swimming to any island community without any form of training.
He urged the GES to procure the services of the navy to offer extensive swimming tutorials to newly trained teachers whose services were required on the islands.
On his part, the General Secretary of GNAT, Thomas Musah Tanko emphasised the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goal four which promoted equitable provision of quality education for all by 2030 and called for swift interventions to break all barriers to education on island and other hard to reach communities.
He said “children born on the islands deserve better education because it is through no fault of theirs that they are born there.”
Source : Ghanaian Times