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The Achimota School Sewage Crisis in Perspective

By Victor Osei

The Accra Metropolitan Authority’s ultimatum to Achimota School to close due to the health concerns arising from the collapse of the school’s sewage treatment facilities is indicative of how far Ghana has progressed or perhaps retrogressed since independence. The crisis at the school is not just an Achimota students’ problem or the Alumni’s problem. Rather it is a national problem with consequences that may not be readily apparent without some review to identify the root causes.

Many of us Ghanaians dream of a country that would by now have developed to the level of some of the nations that we know and admire. A country where systems of government, infrastructure and institutions that were put in place in earlier times would have been maintained and even improved for the benefit of current and future generations.

The development of our institutions and infrastructure to this level requires leaders with vision and the abilities and knowledge to realize the vision. The vision of leaders everywhere is important since it determines the direction in which they intend to steer their nations. The vision of leaders also determines their priorities and how the nation’s resources are allocated to the various activities required to move the nation forward.

If the education of our youth and the preservation of law and order are part of the vision of our leaders, then the only rational choices are to fix the broken facilities and protect the school’s property.

Clearly, the government cannot solve every problem and be all things to all people; however, visionary leaders ensure that important goals are assigned the right priority and are adequately resourced. If the education of the youth and future generations is in line with the vision of our leaders, they must ensure that adequate resources are allocated to education, including the maintenance and protection of the educational assets that belong to the nation.

As we move deeper into a world economy where knowledge is becoming more important than physical resources in the determination of a nation’s wealth, the importance of education cannot be over-emphasized. Those nations that recognized the increasing importance of education many years ago and therefore planned and shifted resources in that direction are now reaping the rewards of their foresight. Singapore is one such nation; India is another. India channeled resources into science, engineering and technology education years ago. It is no surprise that, today, many of the world’s major technology firms have offices and plants in India, providing jobs locally; and Indian-educated engineers and computer scientists now lead many multinational firms around the globe.

The root causes of the problem faced by Achimota are multi-layered but not necessarily complex. The available evidence indicates potential root causes that range from a lack of funding to ineptitude at various levels and even lawlessness. All of these problems may seem daunting, but with enough commitment from the major stakeholders, beginning with the government, they can be solved.

Today, with Achimota School’s facilities falling apart and its lands under siege, the government has to step up and make the right decisions so the students can remain in school. If the education of our youth and the preservation of law and order are part of the vision of our leaders, then the only rational choices are to fix the broken facilities and protect the school’s property. Achimota faces these problems today but if the right decisions are not made now, it could be Prempeh College or the University of Ghana or any number of other institutions in the nation that will be facing similar problems in the future.

Victor Osei is a member of the class of 1972 and resides in Toronto, Canada. He is a Senior Engineering Specialist with an aerospace manufacturing organization.