AGM and Reunion Lunch, St. Mary’s, Upper Street, Islington, London. 9 June 2016

Thirty enthusiastic people attended our Thirtieth Anniversary Reunion.  The Chairman’s address is reproduced below.  We also heard reports from the Hon. Sec., the Hon. Treasurer (the 2015-16 accounts are available on this website), and the Hon. website administrator.  The existing committee was re-elected, nem con.  Carluccio’s provided a good lunch, and the afternoon was devoted to short presentations about projects we support in Ghana.  A specially-iced anniversary cake was duly cut and enjoyed.  We also held a raffle and a mini-auction for pieces of lovely kente cloth. Thank you to everyone who made the occasion such a positive one.  We were especially pleased to welcome three delegates from the Ghana High Commission.



      The mini-auction



Lunch in progress



Mary Owusu and Patrick Heinecke


Mary Owusu and Patrick Heinecke



This time last year, when we met up for our annual gathering, there were doubts as to whether the meeting would proceed.  This was because of a train strike which clashed with our meeting. Fortunately this industrial action was called off at the very last minute.  This year we were faced with an even bigger problem because  the charity Redr who had made their premises available for this occasion, suddenly cancelled our booking (without telling us! Ed.).  This meant we had just three weeks to find an alternative venue.  This explains why we are assembled here today.

Once again we have had an eventful year.  We welcomed William Spooner on to our committee, and he has brought our average age down a little, and we are lucky to have someone with fresh ideas.  I have said before that we always welcome new committee members:  the door is always open.

Our latest newsletter gives detailed accounts of most of our projects.  The website is forever being updated and all of our activities are displayed there.  We receive numerous enquiries from log-ins on to our website and our activities are reaching more and more enquirers searching for assistance.  Earlier this year I was fortunate to spend most of January in South Africa.  There I witnessed a country striving to improve.  I became aware of the nation’s desire for education whether it be in rural schools, township centres or the universities.  Many reports on South Africa are negative, but I did see a positive side with the students there striving to achieve.  The quote from Nelson Mandela that “EDUCATION IS THE DOOR TO FREEDOM” rings clearly.  Ghana is very similar, especially as half the populations of the two countries is under 21.  South Africans are doing what they can and Ghana the same.

Every time I settle down to prepare my annual report, I realise how active we have all been since our previous gathering.  This year, my address will be slightly shorter because most of our projects have been given a high profile in our newsletter.  This is thanks to Jennifer MacDougall who has put together another splendid publication which nicely illustrates what we have achieved.  The newsletter comes as we celebrate 30 years of Ghana School Aid.  Since back in 1986, when the charity was born, we have come a long way and we have been blessed by an influx of enthusiastic supporters, many of whom joined our committee.

As a charity, we shall continue to concentrate on our projects in the North – a much neglected area.  We are very active in the Upper Regions which we shall never neglect.  The North has been an issue which governments have neglected since the colonial days.  In his book, “My Africa”, Frank Ward, a former head of Achimota College, wrote:

Schools were very few.  But the government had at length decided that education must be brought to the North.  It had opened three or four government primary schools, with a technical school at Tamale; and it had given grants to the handful of Catholic mission schools near the northern frontier.  To push ahead with these developments, it created the post of Superintendent of Education, to which it had appointed a most capable man named Candler, a former Anglican missionary with long experience of the country.

Sadly this has not changed, but our efforts continue.

One milestone we have recently passed is the money we have raised, which exceeds £250,000 over the 30 years.  This may not seem much these days, but I can report that it has made a difference and the committee will continue with the same degree of enthusiasm which was there in 1986.  Thank you all for your support.

Ted Mayne,  Chairman


This small JHS, in the Akuapim Hills just north of Accra, has been linked with John O’Gaunt Community Technology College, Hungerford, Berks, since 2004.  Together with the college and other community donors from Hungerford, GSA has supported Asesseeso Presby in the upgrading of its facilities.  A GSA donation was made in 2007 that covered most of the cost of reroofing the classroom block.  Students helped staff and other members of the community to complete the task.  Asesseeso is very close to Abonse, another village community whose schools have benefited from GSA support.


Tsibu Library

The library has been built from scratch on the initiative of a UK-based Ghanaian from the village of Tsibu-Awudome.  It is a solid building with good security and is staffed on a regular basis.  It serves the villages of Bethel, Daffor and Tsibu.  It has a fair collection of books and newspapers, but is always grateful for more books suitable for both schoolchildren and adults.  GSA has contributed to the purchase, in Ghana, of computers which are now installed.

Signed:  Penny Sewell

Joe Bedu L.A. Primary School

Joe Bedu hailed from Dafor-Awudome in the Volta Region, and when he sadly died in 2004, the villagers named their Primary School after him.  Joe’s widow, Penny Sewell, plus a network of friends, have supported the school ever since.  Ghana School Aid has been of immense assistance, giving funding to help with:  building a six-cubicle pit lavatory (Kumasi Ventilated Improved Pits); re-establishing electric cables (stolen years ago), thus enabling the school to be lit up again;   installing pipes bringing water to four standpipes on the school compound;  providing funds for classroom conversion and for making burglar-proof a computer laboratory;  supporting the J. Bedu Day-care Centre for toddlers..  The funding received was added to what Penny had raised separately, hence the impressive list of projects.  The school roll has increased hugely in recent years, and the school is unrecognisable compared to what it was in 2004 – it is now a force to be reckoned with.

Signed:  Penny Sewell

UPDATE  NOVEMBER 2013       Penny visited the school every day for 10 days in Nov. 2013, and writes:  “The J.Bedu school gave me a wonderful welcome.  In Junior High 1, 3 students out of 15 had difficulty reading a couple of sentences aloud to me.  When I mentioned this to the teacher later, she erupted with joy, which perplexed me a little.  It transpired that this represents major progress, competence in English being one of the students’ goals.  The incident was a timely reminder of realistic aspirations for the school.   //  Cousin Grace has a contract with the Local Authority to provide a midday meal for 2 primary schools .  She sources all the ingredients and employs 3 women who come to her house each weekday to cook.  Incredibly, food is provided for 500 people, including teachers, and the programme has done much to increase attendance rates and improve health and learning.  //  I saw the beautiful desks and chairs bought with last year’s grant.  They cannot be installed until the classroom is made secure and I imagine the committee will spend part of the 2014 grant on that.   //  The big question exercising all our minds is how to install computers in the room designated “computer lab”.  The first step is to install wrought iron grills on windows and door.  We can then seek to obtain some PCs (laptops are more likely to be stolen).  A trusted Ghanaian friend has 10 years’ experience of installing computers in schools.  He says that, once installed, they can be maintained by charging students 50 pesewas for each lesson.  They system has worked well in many schools.  The cost of making the lab secure and installing 25 PCs would amount to £4000.  Generous friends have allowed me (in Jan 2014) to send £1000 for the work to start, and we will take it from there…

Although I observed a definite rise in standards in Ghana, in terms of dress, vehicles and aspirations, there is still a great deal of poverty, which explains the need for security.  The school is doing well but much more work is needed to help the children bridge the huge gap between rote-learning and real life.  This implies the availability and good use of text books, in-service training for teachers, and strong leadership.

In the next year or so the Eastern corridor road from Accra to the North will come into service:   it passes in front of the school and will bring changes to Dafor.  I asked JH3 (the top class) about those changes, but my question met with silence.  Why?  I can only think that the topic wasn’t on the syllabus and there had been no discussion either in the village or the school about the road’s impact.  The challenge at this level is to think “outside the box” – let life into the syllabus.  Who in the school can pick up that challenge?  //  I left 19 library story books, a volley ball (great acclamation for that!), 10 big sleeping mats for the little ones, 3 syllabus books, 20 little chairs, 2 bowls and 2 water-barrels.  Also pens and pencils for the children and a small cash gift for each member of staff.  They were clamoring for football shirts and short, but funds did not stretch that far.

The Day Care Centre is flourishing, with high enrolment and, on the whole, happy children.  The room they use is nicely decorated  with letters and numbers.  There’s a lot of reciting and singing – I didn’t see any games being played and the toys were in a chest only brought out on Fridays.  Forgive me, teachers, if I have got that wrong, but also, teachers, please make more use of the toys you have. //  I discovered that the DCC and the KG children are too small to use the pit lavatories that we provided.  (Which, by the way, are much appreciated.)  They were creeping into the bushes with their little bits of toilet paper.  I had a good discussion with the Chair of the Parent-Teacher Association which intended to build special cubicles (pits with small seats) for the little ones.  I left a personal gift to help them complete that project.

It is always rewarding and exhilerating to share in the life of the school which is growing in stature and about to face some big changes and opening-up to the outside world.  See the pictures below.



A new classroom complete with cot for the teacher’s baby

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAServing a school dinner

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASchool dinner cooking


PTA members with Penny, and the acting Headteacher and her deputy.

UPDATE MARCH 2016  Thanks to the generosity of friends, and the great help of GSA, the school has completed the new corridor outside the JHS block (see picture), which will make life a lot more pleasant for everyone using those rooms.  The school continues to get good results at BECE level, with students gaining places in secondary schools.  Class sizes in the Kindergarten and the Primary school are 30+, and about 15 in the JHS. Six student teachers from the Peki College of Education join the staff for one year each year and play a significant role in the school.  The picture below shows the Committee which administers funds from GSA and the J. Bedu Memorial Fund.

JHS corridor Joe Bedu Fund committee

UPDATE  February 2017  A special appeal was launched by Penny to help this school and the Cambridge-Bethel Schools, an appeal adopted by GSA as its 30th anniversary appeal.  A total of £5410 was raised, most of which was eligible for GiftAid.  This GiftAid is shared between the appeal and general GSA funds, yielding some £550 for each.  The aim of the appeal for this school was to enable it to resurface badly damaged classroom floors and to connect the new staff bungalows to the national grid.  These two projects have been completed in record time, and the new Headteacher, Mr. Maxwell Pekyi is bowled over, realising how much his school has benefited from our support over the years.  Warm thanks are due to all who supported this initiative financially, to Robert who supervised the work, and to the workers.  The new floors look marvellous!



Mount Mary Kindergarten School was set up in an under-privileged area of Accra;  in 2001 there were 116 pupils in the school, ranging from two and a half to five years.  Some of these children would move to the primary school the following September, but new pupils were expected to bring the number up to 150.  The children were mainly of single working mothers who could not look after them during the day.  Without the School these children would be on the streets.

Mrs. Elizabeth Ezan and her husband had provided the funding to put up the building;  they had put up water tanks as there was no water in the area.  The parents paid something but could afford very little.  Ghana School Aid grants in 2001 and 2003 contributed to building another classroom and providing more tanks and water.  GSA would like to pay tribute to the hard work and generosity of Mrs. Ezan who had taken early retirement to set up the school as a private initiative, having previously established a successful Trade School for teenagers.

Mrs. Pamela Lewis

Ghana School Aid is very sad to announce the death of one of its most lively and valued founder members. Mrs. Pamela Lewis “just slipped away” on 18th November 2011 after a short illness.

Eric and Auriol Earl have known Pam and family since 1956, in Accra; and Pam came on both Ghana Visits, 1990 and 1995.  She worked closely for many years with all the other founder members of Ghana School Aid.  GSA was founded in 1986, and Pam was its very efficient Hon Sec until she moved to Wales. It was Pam who started the AGMs, which were not provided for in the Trust Deed.  She kept us on the straight and narrow, always mindful of GSA’s prime objectives.  She will be very much missed by all who knew her.

Penny Sewell. 1.1.12