AGM 2017 and Chair’s Report

Thirty-two people had booked for the AGM and Reunion Lunch on Thursday 15 June, and twenty-eight people attended.  It was a joyous occasion with heart-warming reports on the various projects in Ghana that GSA supports and the prospect of being able to support more projects in the coming year.  We had some lovely raffle prizes to offer and made well over £100 on that!  Apart from the important business conducted, the event is a good fund-raiser for us, as many supporters make a donation at this time and the attendance charge includes a margin for GSA funds.  The committee was re-elected nem con and will continue to work tirelessly to promote children’s education in Ghana.  We were delighted to welcome several representatives from the Ghana High Commission and the Ghana Universities London office, and see below for a note about the presence of Mr. Kofi Ohene and Lord Paul Boateng.

Here is the text of Chairman Ted Mayne’s report.

ECOMONIC SECURITY, DECENT SANITARY HOUSING AND QUALITY EDUCATION IS A RIGHT TO EVERYONE.  These are words of Martin Luther King Jr at one of his rallies in the 1960s and it is what we have used as a base to the work of Ghana School Aid has achieved since its foundation in 1986.  We set out knowing where we were going because our founders were all aware of the importance of a good education.  there was a fear that Ghana’s progress could be hindered following independence and this determined group of former Crown Servants set out to make a difference.  When we look back at the past 31 years we can see how we have touched the hearts of so many by providing much needed resources and assistance for schools in rural areas.  Yes, Ghana School Aid has achieved so much and as each day passes demands for our resources continue.  Over 50% of Ghana’s population is under 21 and there are simply not enough schools to cope with with the schooling of the country whose population has tripled in 30 years.  Demands are high and the costs are spiraling.  It was Clement Attlee who said in 1943 that if we can education any population we can go a long way towards eliminating both sickness and poverty.  This quote by clement Attlee is one we as a charity take seriously.  I propose to use this occasion to express my sincere appreciation to the current committee for all they have done over the past year. I cannot thank them enough and our activities are nicely presented in our glossy publication – which all of you have received  – put together so well by Jennifer Macdougall.  Our main projects are well-presented in this brochure which Jennifer has produced so tastefully so I will not enlarge on what has been recorded.  Thank you, Jennifer.

You will be getting a report from our hardworking treasurer, Nigel Dennis.  He has put in a monumental amount of work since succeeding Stanley Anthony and during this time our finances have increased hugely, hence giving us considerably more money to dispense to our needy projects.  Nigel has been ably supported by William Spooner who has made quite an impact since joining us recently.

Jo Hallett, our secretary, has worked tirelessly with zest and enthusiasm throughout the year, monitoring meticulously every request for assistance.  These have all been discussed openly by the committee and I cannot praise her enough.  She manages to visit Ghana regularly and is on site to monitor our work.  Her contribution has been massive.  Kate Regan has been another lynch pin within the committee, helping out whenever needed and providing much-needed support.  I have just named a few, but I cannot thank Penny Sewell enough for all she has done with the website and co-ordinating this occasion.  She has been active with the two large projects in the Volta Region.  Thank you, Penny.

In Patrick Heinecke we have a person who has worked tirelessly in the Northern Regions, spending several months working in difficult conditions.  He has monitored the Sandema project with adept skills, and recently ensured that the project could progress now that solar energy panels have been installed.

Last year I celebrated 10 years as Chairman of GSA and recently I advised the committee that I have been thinking of passing on the chairmanship to someone with new ideas.  I must emphasise that I am not throwing in the towel, but if anyone here would like to take over my duties, please could they let me know.  I must add that I am more than happy to continue for a little longer.

I started this report with a quote from Martin Luther King Jr and I will end with another by this great man.  He said: EDUCATION IS THE PASSPORT TO DECENT ECONOMIC POSITIONS.  We will continue our work with this quote in mind.  thank you everybody.

Nigel Dennis, Ted Mayne and Jo Hallett

The AGM in the crypt at St. Mary’s church, Islington.

We were especially pleased to welcome Mr. Kofi Ohene who is one of our valued representatives in Ghana, covering the area in and around Accra.  He told us that schools varied from the “good” to the “middle-ranking” to the “poor”, that the government expected communities to support their schools, but that some communities did not play ball.  Education is free for 3 to 5 year-olds, and the plan is for it to be free up to age 16.  However, the budget is very tight…

Lord Paul Boateng, one of our esteemed Patrons, managed to pay us a flying visit between two other engagements.  His address lifted our deliberations to a higher level as he talked about his work for Africa Enterprise Challenge which manages a fund of some 260 million dollars.  It focuses on agribusiness and the empowering of rural farmers whose priorities are proven to be, firstly, education, and secondly, health.  Lord Boateng emphasised the need to build the capacities of local communities, sustainability, ecology and not least, the need to promote centres of science in Africa. The latter can only happen long term if we foster science teaching at primary level, thus initiating a pipeline of students who will eventually promote development from within the continent.  He said he was proud that the UK gave 0.7% of its GDP to overseas aid, and he re-stated his support and delight at the vital help that GSA gives to schools in Ghana.  His visit helped link our efforts to the wider context of long-term strategy and national politics.