Ghana: The Rural School Farm In 1981

It is pretty easy-going nowadays for school-goers. Their routines are classroom work which are the core academic exercises. Students and pupils think only of books, at least most of them if not all of them.

In the early 1980s, which means the preceding years were probably the same, most, basically elementary schools operated school farms where pupils were made to assist in various ways.

With the hoe and the cutlass, pupils, and students cleared weeds on large tracts of farmland in preparation for the planting seasons. The school children had at the back of their minds, the geography lessons on weather variations. The Southwest monsoon winds caused the rainfalls, and the Northeast trade winds heralded the harmattan. Having been taught manure in agriculture, they made good of the weeds by using them to fertilize the soil. Usually, a tutor guides this process.

School Farm fencing was an indispensable requirement on the farms. Since loitering animals were many, the fence shielded the crops from grazing animals. However, the school fence wall attracted corporal punishment in situations where a school pupil defaulted in supplying a tree part in demand.

A failure to bring tree stems, palm branches, and other parts of trees necessary for the fence caused punishment for defaulters. The prospect of being thrashed when others were exempted, saw school children throwing themselves in the bush on weekends for tree parts used on the school fence.

Harvesting of the farm produce also drew considerable attention from the school authorities. The farm produce was then sold on the market to generate revenue for the schools.

Farms were the preoccupation of agricultural clubs formed in the secondary schools. They were grounds for practical training, and breaking the monotony. More advanced, secondary school students looked out for the manifestation of academic theories in the practical field. With a tinge of biology in the matrix of the mind, they could detect things like plant symbiotic relationships, commensalism, cross-pollination, vectors of pollination such as the butterfly, and many others.

In all these, you counted yourself lucky as a student or pupil if in failing to show a presence on the school farm, your tutors issued the following words about you, “it doesn’t get full when you are in it, and it doesn’t finish with your absence.” This only means, they have given up on you, thus your help is dispensable.

However, a rigorous pursuit of discipline resulted in cane beatings. Some students wore many underclothes to reduce the impact of the canes. Times have changed indeed.

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