JOSA kicks against market construction on campus

  • but Ga North Municipal Assembly sees nothing wrong

The St. John’s Grammar Senior High School, Achimota Accra, Old Students Association (JOSA), has kicked against plans by the Ga North Municipal Assembly to construct a market facility on a portion of the school’s land to accommodate unauthorised traders encroaching on roadside lands.

According to the Association, the construction of a market square on the school’s campus would jeopardise academics and expose the students to various hazards and social vices which would impact their academics negatively; but the assembly thinks the old students are exaggerating the issue.

President of JOSA 1997-year group, Bernard Yaw Danquah, told the B&FT that JOSA is against any economic activity in and around the school, as such activities do not create a conducive environment for the students to study – adding that what they want the assembly to do is clear all the hawkers and market women operating outside the school wall to the Dome Market; remove a taxi-rank also situated near the school; and create a serene environment for academics to flourish.

He argued that market settings all over the country are characterised by high degrees of filth and stench, noise pollution, excessive heat, grind and hustle, as well as some incidents of theft and drug use among other social vices that are dangerous to students’ and children’s well-being.

Therefore, the establishment of a market square on a school campus, as the Ga-North Assembly is planning to do, would greatly jeopardise the lives of students in this academic community.

JOSA is of the view that St. John’s Grammar, which happens to be the only Senior High School (SHS) in the Ga North Municipality, should be receiving support from the assembly to expand on infrastructure – especially classrooms, boarding house facilities and staff bungalows for accommodation – instead of using the excess land for construction of a market as the assembly is planning to do.

One of the teachers spoke on assurance of anonymity, and said: “St. John’s is the only SHS in Ga North Assembly. Ga South has three, but all are only day-schools. So, all students in these two assemblies who want to attend a boarding school come here, and these have placed so much pressure on the infrastructure – especially boarding house accommodation for both boys and girls.

“With a student population of a little over 1,800 and an infrastructure deficit, boarding house facilities for both sexes is a challenge. The facilities are not enough, so we want more boarding facilities to lower overcrowding in the dormitories; and also construction of teacher’s bungalows so that teachers can stay on campus to properly monitor and assist students with their studies,” he said.


The school’s former headmaster, Dr. Edmund Fianu – who retired in May this year, wrote a letter asking the assembly to come to the school’s aid in clearing all the market women and hawkers loitering around the school’s fence-wall.

The assembly then informed the school that they have no free land in the municipality to be used as a market for the women. The assembly then suggested the headmaster should release a portion of the school’s fenced land for constructing a market square for the women. According to the assembly, the school authorities agreed to the suggestion and plans were advanced for construction to commence with funding secured from the German Embassy – until the old students’ association kicked against the initiative.

MCE’s Response

The Municipal Chief Executive (MCE) for Ga North Municipal Assembly, Simons Sekyim – responding to the concerns raised by old students and against the construction of a market on the school’s land, stated that indeed there is a plan in place to take a piece of land belonging to the school to construct market for some traders loitering around the school’s fence wall.

However, he explained that constructing a market on the far end of the school’s compound would be in the best interest of the school, as the women’s current location is distracting academic even work more.

“When the assembly was informed about the situation, we sat down with the market women and headmaster at the time and told them that there is no land around Tantra Hills; so even when we sack the market women, we would not find a place to settle them. Therefore, since the school has a big compound, we are taking just one plot of land where we can make temporary structures.

“Before we would be allowed to do that, there must be a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on how the revenue will be disbursed. We agreed on 70 percent for the assembly and 30 percent for the school (70/30) before we went ahead to secure funding from the German Embassy in the form of a grant to construct the market,” the MCE said.

He lamented the reaction of old students, indicating the structures that the assembly wants to construct are not lockable stores but just temporary structures to house the market women, who are mostly traders of fruit and perishable goods. “I have called the headmaster that I want to meet the old students. So, when we meet and they still disagree we will just stop the project and give the money back to the German Embassy. The noise is too much, so I will just close the docket when we meet and they do not agree,” he said.

Who owns the land in question?

The land in question is fenced land for the school, and the assembly wants to break part of the wall to construct a market. The assembly would then construct a new wall for the school that excludes land used for the market.  The old students lamented that when this happens the school will lose that land in perpetuity, but the MCE mentioned that school land is state land. Hence, the assembly has the right to use portions for whatever projects it deems fit.

Other JOSA alumni voices

An alumnus of St John’s Grammar School, Bishop Thompson, argued that the market’s presence will hamper effective teaching and learning in the school, contrary to the aim of developing the country’s human resources.

Citing the situation of Kimbu Senior High School – which is situated around the Accra central market area – and the poor performances of the students over the years, he explained that the market will breed noise around the school environment; and that will have an adverse effect on both teachers and students.

Bishop S. Mcel-Thompson (JOSA 2000) further listed the following observations:

  1. Limitation of school land and hampering of future projects. Over 98 percent of teachers at the beloved school live outside the campus, and this greatly affects academic work in terms of supervision, teacher assistance, students’ nurturing, class attendance, etc. Student dormitories are needed since more than 70 percent of students are day-students. This, undoubtedly, has hugely affected the school’s growth and its glory over the years. The necessity of bungalows or staff flats, student dormitories, bigger libraries, assembly halls, laboratories, utility blocks, staff common-rooms, multipurpose administrative blocks, etc. all call for urgently turning down anyone needing even a spot of soil from the school’s land.
  2. The market will breed noise around the school. Remember the Kimbu SHS story and the performance of students there over the years.
  3. A market in a school breeds criminality: drug addicts patronise markets. Those engaged in heavy labour at markets need drugs as stimulants. Students are vulnerable and some may patronise such drugs.
  4. Foul scent and refuse dump: we have always had a problem disposing of our refuse in this country. Refuse produced by the market may not be collected. Others will ‘fly’ into campus. Some people will intentionally throw refuse into the campus. Pollution of the holy environment of the school will create dangerous medical conditions for our students.
  5. Flooding: our school is in a low-lying area. It has been flooded a couple of times with serious attendant issues; refuse-choked drains in the school will increase its flooding rate.


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