Thursday, 29 October 2015

Adulteration Of Palm Oil

The news that palm oil is being adulterated with a chemical for dyeing known as sudan Four is most distressing and dangerous. The substance is said to be dangerous to health and can cause cancer and other diseases. Palm oil is consumed in many homes and chop bars in Ghana as it is used to prepare a lot of dishes. It is used in okro stew, egusi stew, gari and beans and many more. This makes it an important ingredient in the food of many Ghanaians. 

The adulteration is worrying and criminal. Furthermore, the fact that palm oil in almost all the major markets in Accra is contaminated through adulteration is worrisome. It won’t be out of place to say that this development can affect the livelihood of a lot of people, from farmers to those who purchase the commodity from them and sell to the market women and the market women themselves. 

What we are looking at is the possible collapse of an industry due to the greed and total disrespect for human life and health by some Ghanaians.

One can assume that palm oil is not the only food product being adulterated in the country. There is talk of pork and turkey tail also being dyed with one form of dye or the other whose chemical composition is suspect. Some people are said to be repackaging food products under very unhygienic and suspicious circumstances.

 It is no secret that some traders buy paint from accredited manufacturers and adulterate it with glue and starch and the like. This kind of paint peels off after a few months. Only God knows which other edible and non-edible products are being adulterated in Ghana for profit.

In the midst of all this, it is gratifying that institutions mandated to ensure that we are not poisoned for profit such as the Food and Drugs Authority are on the alert and are collaborating with other regulators to ensure that the consumer is safe and will get value for money.

 We must all ensure as Ghanaians that the get rich quick attitude of some compatriots does not endanger our health and lives. For greed in all its form, is dangerous and criminal. Let's all be each other's keeper and expose those among us who would like to adulterate food and other products for profit.

 Our get rich attitude must be replaced by the quest for hard work, originality, enterprise and patriotism. 'Pe se na mi ku menya' the Akan saying- which means getting it all for oneself is negative and will not help us build Ghana into the paradise we all want it to be.


Monday, 26 October 2015

Appreciate Rights Of Children In Special Schools

Special schools are institutions that take absolute care of students with special needs. These students are very vulnerable and are entrusted in the care of well-trained special professional teachers. The special schools are for the deaf, blind and mentally retarded. There are about 30 of such schools across the country.

 It is significant to note that every professional teacher, apart from the special education teachers, is equipped with basic knowledge of special education which will help to detect any special challenges facing pupils and students during interactions in the classroom. 

For example if a teacher finds out that a particular child, all the time copies words or numerals wrongly, it calls for some investigations to find out the cause. It could be a problem with the sight. In the same vein, if during dictation and other oral exercises, the pupil is found to be writing nothing or writing everything wrongly, it could be attributed to hearing impairments. That is why it is worrying to learn that special schools in the country lack adequate resources to operate.

 As a result, their living conditions are nothing to write about; the dormitories and the classrooms are said to be overcrowded. Another worrying situation is that students, who graduate from the schools, are unable to continue their education to higher institutions of learning due to lack of opportunities and facilities.

It is understood that parents of children in special schools do not pay fees and the authorities rely solely on government subventions which, unfortunately delays sometimes. When one visits the Mampong-Akwapim Senior High Technical School, Ghana’s only secondary school for the deaf, one is faced with the distressed state of the school in terms of resources to run it.

 The situation is not different at the Wenchi Methodist Senior High School, the only senior high school for the blind. The recent news about the delay in release of grants and other basic resources needed for the smooth running of the over 30 special schools in Ghana is to say the least troubling and defeats government’s quest to promote social protection. It must be underscored that these schools are attended by Ghanaian students and are therefore entitled to enjoy all the fundamental human rights enshrined in the 1992 Constitution.

There is the need to treat students with special needs in a manner that will promote social cohesion and integration of vulnerable groups into socio-economic development. We expect the Special Education Directorate of the Ghana Education Service to sit up and work with the relevant authorities to create congenial atmosphere to address the needs of the special child.

 The special need children are disadvantaged by no fault of theirs, so let's work together to make life comfortable for them.


Friday, 23 October 2015

Conserve water resources to serve future needs

The Ghana Water Company Limited GWCL is the state institution mandated to treat water and supply to consumers across the country. As an institution, the GWCL may have its own challenges in discharging its mandate.

One of such challenge is the fast rate at which the country abundant water resources, including rivers, bodies are being destroyed through irresponsible behaviours like galamsay operations.

 All Ghanaians have a role to play to prevent further destruction of water bodies. We contribute to the gradual extinction of water resources through dumping refuse, and other solid waste into water bodies. People also contaminate water through the use of chemicals for fishing. 

All these activities are a major cause of water pollution in the country. The Odaw River and the Korle Lagoon are two regrettable examples found in Accra the national capital.

 These water bodies have been extremely polluted to the extent that they have become the an eye soar to residents of the city and visitors. These is abide from the health implication of the polluted of water bodies.

As these rivers are polluted, they dry up, depriving people of clean drinking water, destruction to fishes and other aquatic lives. Also, food cultivation and for that matter agriculture is severely affected since farmers cannot have constant source of water for irrigation. Experts have predicted a possible third World War in connection with access to clean drinking water in the near future.

But this forecast can be averted if we begin to see water preservation as a battle for all humanity. In the cities and towns where potable water is delivered through pipes, we have the responsibility to ensure that water is not abused, polluted or wasted. It is important that institutions involved in water management will be well resourced to discharge their duties effectively. 

Water management and conservation is increasingly becoming important especially with increasing world population.

This calls for high demand for potable water and increased cost of treating and supply of water. It is worthy of note that Ghana’s water sector continues to make great strides. Presently, supply of potable water is said to outstrip demand in the Greater Accra region even though some areas still lack potable water in the metropolis. 

Thankfully, the World Bank is partnering the GWCL, to solve this problem though new that pipes can withstand the high pressure water being pumped through them.

 These efforts by the company towards water sufficiency need the support of citizens. We must all help to protect and preserve water by using water judiciously. People who are involved in illegal taping of water must be reported and punished. 

Estate developers must avoid building houses and other structures on underground water pipes. This creates serious impediments in the supply of water.

We must also report promptly to the Ghana Water Company all cases of pipe burst in our neighbourhood which lead to waste of potable water. Let us support the Ghana Water Company remain committed to its core business of production and distribution of potable water to consumers across the country.


Thursday, 22 October 2015

Resolve District Assemblies Issue Through Consensus Building

Ghana’s decentralization programme has helped to empower citizens at the local level. The enthusiasm that characterized the recent District Assembly and Unit Committee elections clearly show that people at the local level are committed to lead the crusade to accelerate development in the various communities. Strengthening governance at the District level is a practical process to consolidate the gains made in constitutional democracy and sustainable development. 

After the victories by the Assembly members and the composition of Government appointments, the Assemblies were recently inaugurated throughout the country with the core message that they are the agents of development at the grass root. There is no doubt that the Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies are the vision for rural development and transformation.

The current session of Assemblies was delayed over some disagreement regarding the constitutional Instrument for conducting the elections. In effect, the MMDAs did not have the complement of the full house to conduct business. Now that the Assemblies are in session they need to work extra hard to recover the time lost over the issue of constitutional instrument.

 The Presiding Members are critical in the conduct of business at the Assemblies. Because of their special role, it is incumbent on the District Assembly to have a Presiding Member who shall be elected by the Assembly from among its members. The Presiding Member shall be elected by at least two-thirds majority of all the members of the Assembly and shall preside over the meetings of the Assembly.

 It is in this regard that the deadlock in electing Presiding Members at some of the MMDAs must be resolved as quickly as possible so that development projects and programmes are not delayed further. It is gratifying to note that other Assemblies have elected their Presiding Members and are set to push forward the decentralisation and democracy agenda. 

This is the time for members at the Assemblies with the deadlock in electing Presiding Members to show maturity and let the interest of the Districts be their prime focus. When they reconvene to conduct another election to fill the vacant Presiding Member positions they should let their personal interest give way to the collective interest through this they can pursue the development agenda of the District for the next four years in peace and unity for the public good.

 Indeed by 1988 people’s movement were galvanized for the decentralization process. Ghanaians had known they were to vote to elect representatives and forming their own governments at the District Assembly level long before the 1992 constitution. Many structures were enshrined to check abuse of power. It is probably one of the reasons the election of Presiding Members is crucial to promote social and economic rights of the citizens at the grass root.

Ghanaians have come to understand the need to participate in processes that will ensure that the Assemblies follow due process. One of such process is the election of Presiding Members to steer affairs at the Assemblies to solve local issues. 

The test case for the current session of the MMDAs will be seen in terms of how they work towards consensus building which need to feature in the work of the assemblies, if they are to make any head way in the development aspirations.

 Those Assemblies with the deadlock have no excuse to further delay the election of Presiding Members. They must watch carefully the dancing steps of detractors and listen attentively to messages that call for consensus building as they approach the next election of the presiding members.

 All too soon the 21 days for those Assemblies that could not elect their Presiding Members will be the thing of the past. As elected and appointees assembly members there is the need to use their privileged position for transformation at the local level and not for destruction. If there are issues, our Assemblies need to approach them in a manner that will not retard development and growth.


Ensure Congenial Atmosphere For Academic work

At long last, the dust has settled and the placement exercise of newly qualified students into Senior High Schools has been effected through the computerised School Selection Programme (CSSP). 

The computerised selection system continues to attract mixed reaction from the public. The doubting Thomases view the computerisation system as lacking in transparency and fraught with corruption since it is human beings who operate the computers. Others see the whole exercise as an improvement over the previous system where Heads of SHS had a field day in the selection exercise. They called the shots and parents and guardians were at their beck and call.

Stakeholders in the education sector agree that the new system requires further improvement. The headache of parents in a new academic year is how to secure admission for their children in their first choice schools which are perceived as elite institutions.

 It is the dream of many parents that their wards attend such elite schools and they will move heaven and earth to achieve their aim. 

If there is anything heads of such elite schools should be concerned about now is that they need to avoid any enticement from parents because the camera of Anas Aremeyaw Anas can be anywhere. By the end of this month, most SHS in the country would have received their full complement of form one students for academic work to begin.

Some SHS may be admitting over six hundred students which may over stretch the already limited facilities in the schools. When students in a school, far exceed the facilities available, makeshift arrangements may be made but they are not the best and teaching and learning suffers.

 'Perching'' is a dangerous culture developing in some of the Senior High Schools. In such situations, there is the tendency to have two students sleeping on one bed, which can eventually end up in the practice of lesbianism and gayism. 

School authorities are to ensure that no two students sleep on one bed. House masters and house mistresses must work round the clock to ensure that the atmosphere in the dormitories is healthy. Another area school authorities must focus on is how some parents give their children huge sums of money for their personal spending.

 Huge sums of money on fresh students should not be countenanced, since it can undermine discipline in the school.

 Apart from school uniforms and house dresses, no other dresses should be entertained. Medical records of SHS form one students should be properly kept to enable school authorities monitor students who may need special medical attention. This includes students who are on special diet.

 There should also be conscious effort to give orientation to the new students to enable them to appreciate how the school system works, like the use of the library, the science, Agriculture and the computer laboratories as well as offices of the school administrators.

It is important that school authorities ensure new students are not subjected to inhuman treatment by their seniors. What the new students need is an atmosphere that will give them the peace of mind devoid of any intimidation from any quarters. That will encourage them to study hard, where the sky will be the limit in their academic pursuit.


Monday, 19 October 2015

Inauguration Of New Community SHS

In line with the National Democratic Congress' manifesto to ensure equitable access to secondary education in Ghana, President John Mahama made two key campaign commitments in the run-up to the 2012 general elections. 

The first one was to build 200 community Senior High Schools, and the second; to implement the 1992 constitutional requirement to make secondary education progressively free. It is significant to note that the objective of the dual promise is to expand physical access, with a focus on underserved rural communities and provide needed incentives for Ghanaian teenagers to enroll in secondary schools. 

And so, within a space of one month, two of the new community day SHSs, namely Professor John Evans Atta Mills Senior High School at Otuam in the Mfantsiman East District of the Central Region, and Gwiraman Senior High School at Bamiankor in the Nzema East municipality of the Western Region, have seen the light of day, following their inauguration by President Mahama.

 It must be put on record that these two community SHSs are characteristically the same in outlook, that is, the E-block structure. Each of the schools is made up of the following components: 24 classrooms, four laboratories for Physics, Chemistry, Biology and Integrated Science, eight offices for departmental heads, ICT laboratories and Internet Learning Area. There is also, a hall for students and teachers to congregate for social events.

To demonstrate its resolve to successfully kick-start the programme, the government has released 12.2 million cedis to the Ministry of Education to pay for the first term fees. Items covered include examination, library, entertainment, Students Representative Council (SRC) dues, science development, Science and Mathematics quiz, sports, culture, ICT and curricular.

 It is gratifying to note that, though the free SHS is beginning with day students, the road map for implementation would be religiously followed to cover boarding students. The Ministry of Education has further received funds to recruit 9,300 teachers to start the free SHS programme.

Indeed, one significant characteristic of the community SHS project is the location of ICT, Internet and Science Laboratories on the ground floor to compensate for the physically challenged.

This is not enough and so it is recommended that future structures factor in special walk ways within the school building to allow the physically challenged to have equal access to all floors. It is also recommended that buses be allocated to all the schools to enable them to transport students who live beyond five kilometers from the school. 

Irrespective of whichever political persuasion one is aligned to, it is important to acknowledge the fact that the schools when fully completed, will be the property of Ghanaians and opened to all Ghanaian children desirous of attaining quality basic education. We say more grease to your elbow Mr. President and Government of Ghana.


Significance Of Hand Washing

Hand washing with soap has been cited as one of the most cost-effective interventions to prevent diarrhoeal related deaths and infectious diseases. Statistics compiled by UN Agencies including UNICEF indicate that hand washing with soap at critical times - including before eating or preparing food and after using the toilet - can reduce diarrhoea rates by more than 40 per cent. It can cut down the incidence of acute respiratory infections such as influenza and pneumonia by around 23 per cent. Hand washing can also be a critical measure in controlling pandemic outbreaks of respiratory infections. Several studies carried out during the 2006 outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) suggest that washing hands more than 10 times a day can cut the spread of the respiratory virus by 55 per cent. In spite of the magic of this simple act, indications are that rates of hand washing around the world are low.

Interestingly, hand washing is an act that can be easily done anywhere as long as one has water and soap. Yes, it is not an act that can be done without any attendant ceremonious activities nor does it require sophisticated equipment. For instance, in communities like Konsuaso in the Kejebi district of the Volta region, community members have improvised an easy way of washing their hands after using the toilet or when they return home from work. The hand washing system comprises a plastic gallon that is perforated close to the bottom and plugged with a stick. It is then filled with water and mounted on two bigger sticks. Soap is placed in a small tin on the stand. When one is ready to wash his or her hands, the individual just unplugs and is able to wash under running water. 

This does not require government subsidies nor donor funding. What it does require however, is a triggering by experts who are mostly field officers of District Environmental Health Offices. They have been trained to appreciate the relationship between the environmental hazards of open defecation popularly known as “free range,” the spread of infectious diseases like cholera and dysentery; and the remedy simple hand washing provides. The fact is that we pick up germs with our hands from various points including visiting the toilet, playing or working, and also from objects such as doorknobs and stair railings as well as from handshakes. So when one forgets to wash the hands, he or she can spread these germs to other people or give them to one's self by touching the eyes, mouth, nose or cuts on the body.

So if possible, one needs to wash the hands thoroughly with soap before preparing food, before eating, handling raw and cooked or ready to eat food; after visiting the toilet or changing diapers; before breast feeding babies; after smoking; using a tissue or handkerchief; handling rubbish or working in the garden; after playing; and returning from school, work or travel.

 This is an indirect call to a life of good hygiene and proper sanitation. Negligence in observing this very simple and basic rule has dire consequences as already mentioned. There is particular concern about people's attitude to toilet and human excreta or faeces. It is a known fact that human excreta can transmit many infectious diseases between people, including cholera, typhoid, hepatitis, polio, and diarrhoeal diseases. Under-nutrition, pneumonia and worm infections are also associated with unsafe water, poor sanitation and hygiene.

 These result in reduced physical growth, weakened physical fitness and impaired cognitive functions, particularly among children under age 5. But all of these can be curtailed by the simple act of washing ones hands with soap under running water.

The importance of this simple act, led to the creation of Global Hand washing Day on October 15th during the 2008 Annual World Water Week in Stockholm, Sweden. It was an initiation of the Public Private Partnership for Hand washing.

 It resulted in a campaign aimed at reducing childhood mortality rates, related respiratory and diarrhoeal diseases by introducing a simple behavioral change, which is hand washing with soap. The theme for this year’s celebration is “Raise a hand for hygiene.” It is an action oriented theme to identify one as a hygiene champion. 

So on this occasion the message is simple and clear – “Wash your hands and be a champion for hygiene and good health.”