The Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT) is concerned about the continuous reports of teachers drowning in various parts of the Volta Lake while en route to teach in their schools.
Alarmed by the frequency of these incidents, the leadership of GNAT has presented 251 life jackets to teachers stationed in communities along the Volta Lake in the Oti Region.
According to the General Secretary of GNAT, Thomas Musah, the allocation of the life jackets will benefit teachers in about 36 community basic schools in the Krachi East and West districts of the region.
The initiative is intended to help teachers follow a basic precautionary measure of wearing life jackets during trips across the lake to their stations daily to teach.
This comes on the heels of an earlier call in 2022, when members lamented that the jackets were inadequate.
Mr. Musah revealed that the most recent major incident occurred in May, when a teacher drowned on the lake after the boat he was traveling on capsized while on his way back from school on an island called Agamkope.
Teacher Prosper K. Addo recounted how he nearly lost his life during a six-hour journey on the Volta Lake to an island community in the Krachi West District.
“At the time, I didn’t have a life jacket; that means I would have died needlessly,” he recalled.
Ransford Appiah, the Assistant Headteacher of Kudorkope D/A Primary School, also shared the story of how he and his colleagues commute across the lake from Dambai to Kudorkope on weekdays “virtually at our peril.”
They do this just to go and teach children who deserve to be given a good education.
Hundreds of teachers go through this ordeal in their quest to deliver their mandated duties across the length and breadth of the country.
There have been stories of some losing their lives, leaving their families behind, simply because they did not have protective gear.
To ensure the safety of teachers who commute to riverine communities to deliver their duties, GNAT has procured 251 life jackets to be distributed to members in the Krachi East and West Districts.
GNAT National President Rev. Isaac Owusu lamented that “the challenges teachers go through in underserved communities are really discouraging them” and urged the government to step up to the plate.
General Secretary Thomas Musah was alarmed to learn that “about half of the island communities in the Krachi East District do not have schools, which calls into question the government’s objective of providing equal access to education.”
The distribution of life jackets will take place in high-risk areas where teachers work in parts of the Ashanti, Eastern, and Greater Accra Regions, and will also help to protect the lives of teachers who cross water bodies like the Volta Lake on a daily basis to teach.