The Amankwa Fisheries/Agricultural and Technical Institute (AFATI) at Amankwa Torno in the Kwahu Afram Plains North District is in a deplorable state.
The entire school looks wretched, abandoned and simply dead, with most of the louvre blades of the classrooms gone, while the classrooms are littered with broken tables and chairs.
The school was established in 1975, during the Acheampong regime, to serve as a training ground for technical personnel to assist farmers and fishermen in the Afram Plains.
Apart from a six-classroom block that was inaugarated by President J.E.A. Mills in 2011, other facilities are currently in distress and the school may soon close down if nothing is done about its current state.
The school, a government approved technical institute, offers Fashion Design Technology, Wood Construction Technology, Building Construction Technology and Electrical Installation Technology, in addition to the four core subjects – Mathematics, English Language, Integrated Science and Social Studies.
The institute, with a current population of 52 students and 16 teachers, does not have an office, a canteen and a dormitory.
Currently, one of the teachers bungalows, which is distant from the school, is being used as the office for the school, while two bungalows have been converted into dormitories for the boys and girls. In the absence of a canteen, the students take their meals under trees.
In an interview during a visit to the school, the Acting Vice Principal, Mr John Mackenzie Adeti, mentioned the possibility of closing down the school, considering the fact that they struggle to admit students each year.
It is significant to note that at the beginning of this academic year, out of the 400 candidates placed the school under the Computerised School Selection Placement System (CSSPS), only one candidate accepted the placement and has reported.
Mr Adeti said the school had to look for students outside the CSSPS and he was happy that this year’s admission was the highest, with 24 students.
Giving a further breakdown, he said the second year students were 10, while the population of the final year students stood at 18.
Asked whether the school was not over-staffed, Mr Adeti explained that it looked so but that the school ran specialised courses and one teacher could not handle another person’s course, “and for that matter, we cannot say the school is over-staffed.”
Mr Adeti attributed the low enrolment to the location of the school, which is far from even the nearest community, Amankwakrom.
He also blamed the woes of the school on the lack of boarding facilities, which is a big disincentive and does not make students accept placement to the school.
“When students are sent to the school, the first thing parents want to know is whether the school has boarding facilities, since there is a challenge even if the student accepts to hire a place in town. The town is far from here and the school does not have a bus that would pick and drop students who live outside the campus,” he acknowledged.
Mr Adeti said it was unfortunate that the vision for which the school was established, which is to promote agriculture, fishery and technical education, could not be realised.
He stated that the Agricultural and Fishery Department was not functioning, “not because there are no students, but because the needed equipment to run the departments is not there.”
According to him, when the school was established, canals were dug from the Afram River to the school to be used to irrigate a demonstration farm and operate a fish pond.
“Unfortunately, when Acheampong was overthrown, the school was also closed down until 1996 when former President J.J. Rawlings reopened it,” he explained, adding that the long closure might have resulted in the loss of the canals.
He said the plight of the school demanded a concerted effort from the government and the private sector to sustain it and help it to realise its core mandate.
Mr Adeti announced that there was a team from COTVET that visited the school with a consultant to indicate their desire to put up a dormitory block for the students.
He expressed his gratitude to COTVET and added that “the mere fact that they thought of us and visited us is reassuring.” He said he was hopeful that other institutions and organisations, as well as foreign missions in the country, would emulate the example of COTVET.
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