The Bontibor D.A Basic School in the Nkwanta-South Municipality of the Oti Region has been closed down for the past three weeks because some unscrupulous members of the community have turned the classrooms into a place for open defaecation.
The situation has compelled teachers to abandon teaching thereby forcing the children to stay out of the classrooms.
The negative development, where community members turned the classrooms into public toilets was reported to the Nkwanta-South Municipal Directorate of Education (NSMDE), and the decision was supported by the Directorate.
The Nkwanta-South Municipal Director of Education, Mr Jonathan Korsina who briefed the media on the development at Nkwanta said, it was time community members showed greater respect for teachers in their respective communities, and protect them at all times.
He said it was clear that the community had taken the teachers for granted, and they would not tolerate any act of gross disrespect towards them, saying the Municipal Directorate had given the chief and elders of Bontibor to demonstrate high commitment to provide conducive teaching and learning environment and to protect the teachers before they would return to the classroom again.
According to Mr. Korsina, as part of the conditions that would make teachers of Bontibor Basic School return to the classroom, the chief and elders should write and sign a letter to assure the directorate that members of the community would not defecate in the classroom again as well as to ensure the safety of the teachers.
He said teachers at Bontibor Basic School were dedicated to their work over the years and could practice the teaching profession in an atmosphere of peace and tranquillity, saying teachers like other workers needed support from the community where they work.
Mr. Korsina stressed that teachers of Bontibor Basic School would not return to the classroom until the chief and elders submitted a written document that would serve as evidence to guarantee the safety of teachers, saying the chief and elders would have the choice of ensuring that the teachers returned to the classroom or would turn the classrooms into a public toilet.
A 69-year-old woman, Madam Anita Appoh said defaecating in classrooms in the community was alien to the people because the community shared a toilet facility in the school meant for pupils and students, and the school authorities did not object to them sharing the facility with the school.
She said the negative development tarnished the image of the Bontibor community, and said she did not understand why people would refuse to use the toilet and rather preferred defaecating in the classroom, saying even class one pupils whose property the community shared with them would not defecate in their class.
Mr. Appoh said the condition is given by the Municipal Directorate of Education for the chief and elders to write a letter to the office, promising that there would not be any more defecation in the classrooms, to her it was difficult because if the chief and elders gave such an assurance to the municipal directorate of education and people again defecate in the classrooms, would lead to total closure of the school in future.
The Assemblyman for Bontibor and Salifu Electoral Area, Mr Justice Ameji expressed concern about the development, which he said started affecting the education of the children because the Junior High School (JHS) students missed a national mock examination within the period to prepare them for their final examination.
Mr. Ameji said the Bontibor community had put in place measures to prevent future occurrences of open defecation in classrooms, which included the provision of electricity to the school and would engage security in the school after the school closed until the following day to ensure that people would no longer defecate in the classroom.
However, when the Nkwanta-South Municipal Chief Executive (MCE), Mr. Bright Lenwah was contacted as to whether the assembly has plans to provide a toilet facility for the Bontibor community or plans to fence the school, he declined to speak and asked this reporter to see the Assemblyman for the area and the Municipal Director of Education.