It’s been a busy week so getting behind on my blog posts! But wanted to have the opportunity to write about all the elements of our programmes that I’ve seen during my 10 days in Ghana. Tuesday morning was selection visits so we all split up to visit 3 different Primary Schools. We work with the Ghana Education Service to find schools based in rural deprived villages – those who are the most in need of our support. We select based on criteria such as class sizes and look for poverty indicators such as level of basic amenities- type of water source, whether there is electricity provision, type of housing, distance to main road. We also try to choose communities who do not have support from other NGOs.
Earlier this year we piloted an in-school Play Centre where we train woman from the community alongside the Kindergarten teacher to run the Centre in-school – as opposed to in the communities. The women then come to the school 3 times per week to run the Play Centre for the Children. This also helps to improve the quality of Kindergarten teaching as often teachers will be untrained and classes are heavily oversubscribed. The pilot was a success, so we are looking to open more Play Centres in this way.
I went with Alhassan and John to visit Lahagu school. I was amazed how basic it was… literally 3 classes and a small room which was the headteachers office. There was one cupboard in the headteachers office with a pile of old books – all the educational resources this school had. We met with the headteacher and introduced ourselves, what we do and how the Play Scheme works. He seemed enthusiastic about the idea and supportive. It’s extremely important that we have the buy-in of the school, PTA and community leaders – as they all have to work together to make the Centre a success. So we want to select communities who are willing to get involved so we can be sure the Centre will be sustained.
The head teacher told us that there are over 60 children in Kindergarten (and just 1 teacher) and then 25 in Primary year one and 20 in Primary year 2. This means that many of the parents in the community are not sending the children to Primary years classes after they’ve completed nursery. By training mothers and engaging the whole community in the importance of education, we also aim to encourage them to send their children to school so that they can have the opportunity to reach their full potential.
After speaking to the head teacher we also met with a member of the community to find out more about the village. As expected – sanitation facilities were basic here, with the community mainly using water from a nearby dam. We were not able to find the head of the PTA and the community leader today so John will return to Lahagu tomorrow to meet them and explain the programme. We explained to the headteacher that together, with the community leader and PTA, he would need to put together a proposal for us (written or verbal) showing their commitment to the programme and the willingness of at least 20 women from the village who would each be able to volunteer once a week.
We met with Alison and David later who had visited 2 other Schools. Once we have seen/heard all the 3 proposals we select one to work with and begin to train them to run the Play Centre. If more than one is suitable – we will work with the other community(ies) once the first has been set up.
We’re still small and our 4 members of local staff in Ghana (David, Alhassan and John in Tamale and Eric in Bolga) are working at full capacity to set up in new communities. We hope to grow over the next 12 months so we can employ more local staff and purchase more motorbikes, so we can reach even more communities and hundreds more children, whilst continuing to support our existing communities with more capacity building training and activities.