STUDENTS ABANDON CLASSES

*As Galamseyers invade school compound

Today gathers that students and pupils of Osuodumgya Basic School at Hwidiem in the Asutifi District of the Brong-Ahafo Region abandoned classes for a whole week to protest the activities of illegal miners who are commonly referred to as galamsey operators.

While the galamsey operators have refused to leave the school compound the pupils and students have no choice but to return for academic work.

Today’s findings revealed that the galamsey operators, who were all in their teens, have encroached upon an appreciable size of the school’s land, and their operations are equally threatening the lives of the school children.

According to the aggrieved students who refused to take lessons despite coming to school, the illegal miners are “slowly killing” them and therefore they fear to even stay in the class for studies.

Today discovered that various respiratory diseases have invaded the school due to the activities of the miners, who use poisonous chemicals in their mining activities.

Today’s investigations showed that dry cough is rampant among the students following the activities of the galamsey operators.

Students constantly inhale dust that comes out of the blasting carried out by the miners in their attempt to loosen mineral-bearing rocks.

An aggrieved student, who spoke to this reporter, hinted that students constantly lose concentration in class due largely to the noise pollution that erupts from the blasts and the working of the machines used of the miners.

The school has a student population of 500, and their protestations has compelled the headmaster, Mr. Philip Nkum, to call on the District Assembly to expedite action in moving away the galamsey operators, who are day-by-day encroaching on the school land.

In an interview with Today, Mr. Nkum said, the situation is worrying to the extent that a good number of parents are reluctant to send their children to school for fear of them contracting respiratory infections from inhaling the chemical-bearing dust that engulfs the school daily.

Mr. Nkum said, he sought the help of the Asutifi District Director of Education, Mr. Joseph Badu, who came to talk to the galamsey operators asking them to leave. After listening to him however, the illegal miners remained adamant.

According to the headmaster, the situation compelled him to throw the matter to the District Chief Executive (DCE) for Asutifi, Mr. Eric Addae, who collaborated with the Regional Security Council (REGSEC) to force the galamsey operators to move away from the school compound.

“Though some of the galamsey operators have taken away their machines, the structures are still there and some [come back to] work under the cover of darkness,” he disclosed.

Mr. Nkum revealed that “some pupils abandoned school to work at the galamsey site to make some money.”

In spite of the action by the DCE and REGSEC, Today discovered when it visited the school that galamsey operators were still on the compound busily working at their site in the full glare of the public.

He nevertheless expressed gratitude to the District Director of Education for his intervention.

“We are grateful to the Asutifi District Director of Education (DDE), Mr. Joseph Badu, and Mr. Addae for their efforts at dealing with the problem.

Not even the person of the headmaster, who took our reporter on a tour around the school, would deter the galamseyers from going about their activities.

STORY: FROM MICHAEL SARPONG MFUM, HWIDIEM B/A