7 December 2007

Ghana: Tamale Nursing College in Ruins

A month-long independent investigation by The Chronicle has revealed the protracted exploitation of students at the Tamale Nursing Training College (NTC) by the authorities in various forms.

These acts are currently creating serious tension between the student nurses and their tutors, as the apparent fraudulent deeds of the authorities have now become an open secret.

A number of student leaders and other influential students (names withheld) who spoke to The Chronicle accused the authorities of diverting monies paid by the students, for projects, into other unapproved projects.

According to the students, it was their expectation that the authorities would use monies paid by the students, judiciously to address the problems of student accommodation, teaching, procurement of learning materials, under-resourced library, computer laboratory, classrooms and the maintenance of other utilities.

They also complained bitterly about the poor nature of their demonstration/practicals room and dinning hall.

The Tamale Nursing Training College, which has a student population of about 750, has no assembly hall and their only dinning hall can contain only 40 students.

They disclosed that, even though they have been paying for library maintenance fees, which were supposed to be used to acquire revised textbooks and modern learning materials to equip the library and the knowledge of the students, the monies were not used to serve the intended purposes.

According to the student nurses, for the past one-and-half years, there had not been any modern books for them to study. Saying, "There is virtually nothing for us to read, to pass our exams".

They also maintained that the few books in the library were outmoded and for that matter could not help them in their courses.

Meanwhile, the students pay not less than ¢250,000 every semester as library fees. The library has the capacity for about forty people, which is similar to that of the dining hall.

Another worrisome issue the students complained about was their empty demonstration room, where they are supposed to gain internal practical knowledge.

The room lacks so many materials including skeletal statues, forceps, tools and beds among others.

The students also disclosed with concern that they usually pay general maintenance fees, which was supposed to be responsible for the repair of furniture, lighting systems, fans and other utilities in the school, yet the authorities give no attention to them when they encounter these problems.

The College also has only about 9 computers for the 750 students, but most of them according our investigations are not in good condition. Some of the students asserted that they have been paying ¢200,000 every semester as computer maintenance fee, but have never been taught how to use or touched the computers for the past three years.

These problems notwithstanding, the NTC authorities have also introduced "Development Levy" which the students are kicking against. Each student pays ¢2 million as development levy.

Meanwhile the leaders are battling it out with the authorities to reduce the amount to at least ¢500,000.

Sources hinted that, general and computer maintenance fees were introduced about a decade ago and the fees do not contribute anything meaningful to the students academic performance.

According to the sources, feeding which was compulsory has now been made optional for day students but they are not supposed to use any facility except academic facilities.

About 70 per cent of students of the NTC are day or reside outside campus.

Most of the students pay boarding facilities fees, but are not entitled to them.

The students also complained about the vast communication gap between the authorities and the student leaders.

The students blamed the Vice Principal, Mr. John Bonah and a tutor, Mr. Dominic Abugri, who is also the procurement officer of the college for the problems.

They therefore called on government to transfer the two from the school to pave way for accelerated development.

The Principal of the Tamale Nursing Training College, Mr. Sayimah Kombian in an interview denied all the allegations leveled against his administration and also blamed the problem on the students.

Attributing the escalating problems to bad and indisciplined behaviour of the students, the Principal bemoaned that students kept stealing new books purchased for the library, and sometimes also deliberately destroyed them.

He said his administration had stopped refurbishing most of the facilities because the students were still maintaining their appalling behaviour.

He however confirmed that, maintenance fees were sometimes diverted to purchase other things, because the school had a weak financial strength. Mr. Kombian also confirmed that the demonstration room was not well equipped to efficiently train the nurses.

The Tamale NTC Principal also accused government of failing to release the requisite funds and providing the needed infrastructures saying, "the government has been deceiving me over the years by asking me to increase enrolments with a promise that, it would make things better for the institution in terms of infrastructure and learning materials, but nothing is being done."

Mr. Kombian noted that students are often taken to the Tamale Polytechnic for their computer studies, but a section of students who spoke to The Chronicle said, that was not true and that they had never been there for computer classes.

Meanwhile, the Tamale Nursing Training College is the largest populated nursing institution in the country but the least resourced.

It was established in 1974 and currently has a student population of about 750. It has never held a matriculation or a congregation ceremony, since its inception because it is not accredited.

Though it is indicated on paper that, the institution is offering a diploma programme in nursing, at the end of the day, students are awarded a certificate in general nursing.

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