A glance at a Ghanaian student hostel

GNA
feature by Elizabeth Baah

Tema, Feb. 27, GNA –
Living away from home especially for schooling is a rite of passage most people
in Ghana have to gone through.

For the student, the
traditional university halls which accommodated those now in power are no
longer a viable option  because they now
lack the capacity to house the overwhelming population seeking tertiary
education in Ghana.

The hostel concept
has evolved to largely fill this huge vacuum as they litter in all shapes and
forms over cities and towns where tertiary education can be accessed.

Unfortunately, their
form, rent and other services are not regulated but they are surely the place
for average students to seek accommodation but for the rich few, apartments
which come at a high rent, will do.

HISTORY
OF HOSTELING

The most told
stories about the evolution of the hostel could be traced to the year 1909 when
a German teacher, Richard Schirrmann, noticed the need for overnight, cheap
accommodation for his students during trips so that they could get other
experience in addition to what they got at school.

In 1912, he
established the world’s first youth hostel in Altena Castle in Germany. He also
founded the German Youth Association in 1919 and as interest grew globally,
youth hostel association grew in leaps and bounds.

LIFE
IN THE HOSTEL

The hostel concept
is not only limited to boarding and study but 
it also serves as a human social laboratory.

As a centre of
academic and social education, life in the hostel can be a pleasant journey, in
that, students within the same age range live together sharing common
aspirations, sentiments and challenges.

Thus, students from
the same generation with diverse backgrounds develop a great sense of intimacy
while they use their absence from the family to 
explore the self and nurture self accountability and responsibility.

Studying and living
together create a great sense of oneness among peers leading to bonding, which
may be useful in the future, according to Ama Abrefa, a hostel tenant.

According to her,
students tend to help each other both academically and socially when the need
arises.

It is however very
obvious that life outside the hostel cannot be equated to the life in a hostel;
both are really opposite faces of the coin, hostel life is full of fun,
amusement and youthfulness while in 
humble homes, chores and stark realities of life may draw energy. and
zeal from the  home bound student,
Lawrence Abaka, a student tenant, argues.

The rooms in the
hostels are usually packed so the sensitive type will have to endure the
snoring, unintended flatulence that come with deep sleep and other discomforts.

However, with the
cooperation of student tenants, differences can be resolved for the creation of
a congenial atmosphere for academic work and social bonding.

In fit-for-purpose
hostels, lounges or special rooms are available for studies and meditation but
they do not come cheap.

To mitigate the
effects of noise, some resort to earplugs or eye-covering sleeping masks while
other endure it as an adventure and a preparation towards  independent living and how to compromise with
the oddities of life.

Life in the hostels
encourages more social interactions between students due to shared sleeping
areas and communal areas such as lounges, kitchen, study room and a lot more
creating an irreplaceable bond among the students from different backgrounds
and this is what students living outside the hostel miss out.

THE
CURRENT SITUATION IN GHANA

Acquiring
accommodation while entering the tertiary institution in Ghana is one of the
major challenges students go through.

Most hostels are
located far from the schools which put another financial of the cost
ransportatio on them.

Ideally, facilities needed
in a hostel setting are free Wi-Fi, air conditioning, TV, radio, Shower, desk
and chair, study room, safe box and a commercial washing machine but the
reality is that hostels are full of 
problems including visible cracks or even holes in walls, leaking roofs,
poor sanitation and toilet facilities, poor water supply and poor ventilation.

“The disposal
of sanitary pads becomes a major concern 
as such,  that time of month is
another headache for female students,” according to Pamela Naa Nio, a
student tenant.

Students in higher
institutions to a large extent are being deprived of their psychological needs
as a result of poor hostel accommodation which hinders studies.

Mr Frank Kwaku
Acheampong, an official of the Nyaniba College of Health, which charges 1000
Ghana Cedi’s or more for a bed annually, acknowledges the fact that managing a
hostel is very hectic because the student tenants come from different social
backgrounds and had different attitudes and behaviors .

“Student tenants,
although were aware of the rules and regulations governing the hostel, would
deliberately violate the rules and regulations and when they are cautioned, it
leads to misunderstanding, “he said.

For most tertiary
students in Ghana, the most challenging issue facing them in their pursuit of
education is not the pile of assignments lecturers give them, neither is it the
volume of books they have to read, nor the tough examinations they have to
write at the end of the semester but finding a suitable accommodation.  

RENTS

The rents of some of
the hostels cost more than tuition fees thus compelling some students to
commute from their various homes to campus every day as they have been
economically excluded from the hostel market, Mariam Razak, a student opined.

In the University of
Ghana, residential rents range from GH¢853.00 to GH¢2,900.00.

At Central
University, hostel rents ranges from GH¢2,900.00 to 4,700 per year.

The Ghana Telecom
University College hostel rates range from GH¢1500.00 to 3500 per year.

Ghana Institute of
Journalism (GIJ) has no accommodation for students, let alone talking about
rents.

In spite of the huge
rents,  some of these hostels do not have
a study room, commercial washing machine, TV and a lot more needed to make the
hostel life worth living.

THE
WAY FORWARD

The Rent Control
Department should have an oversight responsibility over the management of the
hostels. It must come out with 
guidelines stating clearly which amenities, number.of students to share
a room, and other things that make life relatively comfortable.

It should also issue
a standard rent regime for both private and public hostels.

Tertiary instuitions
should also publish avaliable hostel and hall spaces  as part of 
pre matriculation information for students to make informed choices.

Ghanaians should be
taught lessons on maintenance as it would help preserve the few amenities
avaliable in the hostels.

CONCLUSION

Hostel owners must
be capable of providing adequate rooms and 
basic academic and recreational facilities to justify their existence on
the market.

GNA

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