This 2014 study (…/jou…/jasa/135/4/10.1121/1.4865269) by Kardous and Shaw validates the use smartphone apps for the accurate measurement of ambient noise levels.

This 2013 study (…) by Pujol et al grounded a long-held suspicion that certain levels of ambient noise are detrimental to the school performance of pupils.

A preliminary scoping of school locations in Accra, cross-referenced with rudimentary smartphone-charted “noise maps”, indicates a high concentration of school sites in “extreme-noise zones”, characterised by all-day, continuous, high decibel, exposure.

A hypothesis is proposed that the failure to perform routine noise audits when siting new schools and the failure to enforce anti noise pollution regulations, especially in school vicinities, account for a perceptible part of the worsening “educational performance to public education expenditure ratio”.

Whilst longterm institutional research and consequential reforms are vital in addressing the potential damage posed by this state of affairs, an interim solution is proposed.

Affordable noise-muffling and soundproofing innovations may be developed at low cost by schools to mitigate the degree of noise impact on the classroom environment.

Due to the absence of airconditioning, the chief design constraint for soundproofing Accra schools is the need to blend effective ventilation with noise-muffling objectives.

Luckily, new, low cost, windows technologies allow the creation of sound diffraction ‘bubbles’ that sucks in air but repels as much as 25 decibels of unwanted noise, more or less insulating the classroom from much of the surrounding din.

Whilst the implementation of such technologies would be brilliant, the authorities may consider, at the very least, a ranking index of schools based on ambient decibel levels. Such an index (the “Schools Noise Impact Measurement & Evaluation” – SNIME – index) could, for instance, be configured to further gauge the correlation between noise pollution and BECE performance.

For effective advocacy, visualisation of the underlying data should help tremendously, something for which the same smartphone apps alluded to earlier can be most useful.