Tullow’s infrastructure projects impact education
Corporate support for the government’s Free SHS policy has played a very important role in meeting the infrastructure needs of some disadvantaged schools.
Among these interventions is the announcement by Tullow Oil Ghana in 2018 of $10 million to improve the infrastructure of high schools across the country over a period of five years.
The support, which began immediately after the announcement, saw some infrastructure completed while more is in progress. The Tullow Free SHS infrastructure project will see the construction of nine fully furnished dormitory blocks with a capacity of 570 beds and six classroom blocks which will be fully furnished with modern furniture for some schools.
The Tullow Free SHS infrastructure project marks a break from the previous simple donation of structures without any props.
The design ensures that the facilities are fully furnished, have an improved water supply system, electricity, modern toilets and bathrooms, storage rooms, laundry and dry lines among others. to guarantee the occupants the perfect atmosphere to rest and prepare for academic work.
The scope of work also covers the provision of a fully furnished bungalow for resident housekeepers/housekeepers to improve supervision and discipline.
The classroom blocks, in addition to being well furnished with necessary furniture and whiteboards, also have disability friendly features for everyone to use.
The estimated student population in the Western Region (including technical schools) since the announcement of free SHS, enrollment in SHS and technical education has quadrupled.
Naturally, insufficient infrastructure became an obvious challenge faced by the implementation of the policy immediately after the announcement. The situation has become even more critical following the COVID-19 pandemic where protocols have required more space or social distancing.
Tullow’s intervention in the classroom and dormitory blocks then came at the right time to mitigate the spread of the pandemic and support the continuation of academic activities.
Especially for some day schools, where parents have had to rent accommodation for their teenage children, thus granting them undeserved independence but also exposing them to all forms of social vices, the provision of dormitories has undoubtedly improved social and academic disciplines.
Schools such as Nsein SHS, Sankor SHS and Nsutaman SHS which have already benefited from the project under the first phase, according to the school management, have reduced overcrowding and improved overall health and sanitation while adding over 500 students per school to their boarding population. This means a marked improvement in the quality of housing for each beneficiary school, with the additional benefits that come with it.
The provision of dormitories has also reduced absenteeism and school absenteeism, in addition to allowing many more students to stay and saving them from traveling long distances between houses in neighboring villages and the school.
Completion of phase two covers additional blocks at Kikam Technical Institute (KIM-TECH), Bonzo-Kaku SHS in Ellembelle and Anor-Adjaye SHS in Jomoro Municipality. These should add around 1,000 boarding beds and more than 600 classrooms for the beneficiary schools.
The third phase, which is currently underway, will provide dormitory blocks for girls in Axim in Nzema East Municipality and Bompeh High School in Sekondi-Takoradi Metropolis, and a much-needed 10-unit classroom block for Shama SHS in Shama district.
Members of the Tullow Ghana Social Performance Team, Mr. Edmund Fiifi Enchill and Elijah Boye-Ampah assured that all phases of the projects will be completed on time. The team assured that they are ready to commission three dormitories in Jomoro and Ellembelle soon.
The Ghana Education Service’s Western Region Public Relations Officer, Mrs. Betty Elizabeth Etroo, said the project was a great relief to the selected schools, explaining “one important thing about the project is that the selected schools are facilities that really needed it”.
The region, she said, has 36 high schools and two technical schools with significant improvements in enrollment.
“I have to say that improving enrollment will naturally create the need for the perfect, spacious ambience for academic work – blocks of dorms and classrooms.”
“We needed enough dormitories to accommodate more students as well as classroom blocks to improve admission. For us, the Tullow Free SHS infrastructure project is an appropriate intervention because government cannot do it alone,” Ms Etroo said.
The government receiving support from the private sector in the field of educational infrastructure projects, especially the ongoing projects of Tullow, would motivate teachers and students for the improvement of teaching and learning.
At the facilities, some officials from the beneficiary schools described Tullow’s support as unprecedented as the company provides the blocks and equips them with all necessary utilities.
The Western Regional Minister, Mr. Kwabena Okyere Darko-Mensah, said in his comments that the construction of the dormitory blocks by Tullow means a lot for the development of education in the Western Region.
Since its inception, he said Tullow Ghana’s invaluable support and commitment to assisting the government to fully realize the vision it has for the Free SHS policy is highly commendable.
The benefits that these dormitories and classroom blocks bring to beneficiary schools and wider communities are enormous. “I know of other interventions such as the Tullow Tertiary STEM scholarship program, Scholars Aid where stipends are given to hundreds of SHS students, a radio school program and a sustainable kindergarten, among others.
“As we strive to encourage enrollment of girls, improve science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) in our pursuit of national development, the facilities will provide a decent place for students to lay head and go out more refreshed daily for university studies and extra-curricular activities.” He also added that the intervention will build a better future for young people and therefore a more resilient community.
The oil and gas industry, to this end, not only contributes to revenue, but through its social performance activities, it is supported in the areas of education, health, roads, water and sanitation, fisher loans program and regular engagement with stakeholders.
The commitment of funds for the project and its actualization should be a source of encouragement for the rest of the other corporate institutions in the country to emulate and join the clarion call for national development.