The Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT) has made a significant contribution to the safety of its members by donating 251 life jackets to teachers stationed at island communities in the Krachi East and West Districts of the Oti Region.
The procurement of these life jackets aims to protect teachers who commute to riverine communities to fulfil their duties. It is expected that the donation will benefit teachers in approximately 36 community basic schools across the two districts.
Recognizing the importance of basic safety precautions, the initiative follows a similar donation made in 2022. During a fact-finding tour of selected communities along the Volta Lake to assess the challenges faced by their members, GNAT’s National Executives expressed concerns about reports of teachers drowning in various parts of the lake while travelling to their teaching stations.
Calling for a collaborative effort to address the recurring incidents of drowning involving teachers and pupils, the Executives affirmed their commitment to ensuring the safety of teachers in riverine communities.
GNAT’s General Secretary, Mr. Thomas Musah, described the frequency of drowning incidents across the country as alarming. He revealed that the most recent incident occurred in May, when a teacher serving at Agamkope Island drowned on the lake after the boat he was traveling on capsized while returning from school.
Expressing concern about the government’s objective to provide equal access to education, the General Secretary highlighted the association’s alarm upon discovering that approximately half of the island communities in the Krachi East District lack schools.
Survival against the odds
Sharing his harrowing experience, teacher Prosper Addo recounted how he nearly lost his life during a six-hour journey on the Volta Lake to an island community in the Krachi West District. He emphasized that he did not have a life jacket at the time of the incident.
“I had no life jacket and would have died needlessly,” Addo stated.
Mr. Ransford Appiah, Assistant Headteacher of Kudorkope D/A Primary School, commended GNAT’s National Executives for their gesture and shared the experiences of him and his colleagues as they traverse the Volta Lake from Dambai to Kudorkope, risking their lives to teach.
Mr. Appiah mentioned that hundreds of teachers undergo the ordeal of crossing the Volta Lake without adequate protective gear in their quest to fulfill their mandated duties. While some survive these incidents, there have been reports of fatalities due to the lack of protective gear, leaving their families behind.
Urgent need for solutions
The National President of GNAT, Rev Isaac Owusu, expressed his concern about the challenges faced by teachers in riverine and underserved communities.
Rev Owusu cautioned teachers in these communities to prioritize precautionary measures at all times and appealed for an urgent solution to prevent further drownings.
“These challenges are truly discouraging our teachers, and we urge the government to show commitment in resolving them,” he stated.
The distribution of life jackets by GNAT will continue in other risky riverine areas of the Ashanti, Eastern, and Greater Accra Regions where teachers are stationed.
The exercise aims to protect the lives of teachers who cross water bodies such as the Volta Lake on a daily basis to provide education and contribute to the development of their communities.
Source: Graphic Online