Our Children Africa commissioned the opening of its first school in the village of Bwase in the Akropong District of Eastern Region in May 2008. Prior to construction over 100 children living in the surrounding area were taught in this one room structure, which was visibly inaccessible during days of inclement weather. To replace this inadequate structure, we constructed our first school, Tessier Primary School which consists of 4 classrooms. While paid workmanship was involved, it was a community project with many parents and neighbours volunteering throughout the project.
In 2009, we were informed about another school project in the village of Okotum where construction had started on a school, however lack of sufficient funds had stalled its construction. Our Children Africa stepped in and completed the project and now another 80 primary students are able to attend school on a regular basis.
In both of these rural village schools , the challenge still remains to recruit qualified teachers and ensure children regularly attend. Often children are required by family to help out in the fields or provide help on market day. Regular meetings are held with parents to discuss and emphasize the value of education and the opportunities it provides.
Every Child’s Path School in Accra
Back in 2007 we introduced “Every Child’s Path to Reading, Writing and Math” at a school in Accra which had 70 students enrolled. These students were unable to even pay the smallest amount to attend the public school system. A daily lunch is provided which in many cases is the only meal some children receive daily.
As a result of the success of the “Every Child’s Path ” program, enrollment has risen to 300 with outstanding results as children move up to higher grade levels. Unfortunately conditions at this school are below standard with up to 60 children per class in some cases. Last year the Ministry of Education threatened to close the school due to crowded conditions, however after they spent some time with the dedicated staff, they agreed to continue to let the school remain open. A wise decision as to close the school would have resulted in 300 children on the streets with no educational alternative.
As a result of these issues and the success of “Every Child’s Path”, we have started construction of the 10 room Every Child’s Path school in Accra which will provide most of these same school children with a significantly improved educational experience and will serve as a training centre for “Every Child’s Path”. Our guiding principles will be based on ensuring that this will serve as a school for those children who cannot afford to enter the current educational system.
The school project began with the purchase of a 99 year lease on a wonderful 3 acre piece of land. A borehole to provide water for the school has been developed and construction is now underway.
It is significantly less expensive to build village schools as land is often provided free of charge by the Chief and schools are generally of the 4 room variety. Schools in urban centres such as Accra, are impacted by city bureaucracy and increased material and equipment charges. We expect it will take an estimated $180,000 to complete the school. We are heartened by the fact that people in the area are getting involved and have begun to build their own bricks and have started their own fundraising activities (pretty amazing considering their own struggle to often provide food for the family).
Update! On our most recent trip to Ghana (October 2015), we visited the new construction site and were excited to see that the new foundation that will provide 10 classrooms was almost completed. Our next stage is to begin adding 80 pillars for the concrete slab ceiling. Our goal is to have the ceiling in place by September so that we can begin bringing in students.