AGM 17th June 20-21

24 people attended our zoom meeting, some far afield. We discussed feedback from schools, our finances, heard some reports from people recently back from Ghana and from Kofi Ohene, one of our representatives in Ghana. After a long service to GSA as Chairman, Ted Mayne is stepping down, becoming vice chair to the new chair, William Spooner. We expressed gratitude to Ted and a warm welcome to William. Ted’s final chair’s report is reproduced below, as is an extract from our hon. sec. Jo Hallett’s report.

Chairman’s Annual Report 2020-2021:

Every year about this time when I settle down to do my annual report, I ask myself “Where has the past year gone?” Time certainly flies, especially as we get older. That said, in spite of the speedy passing of time, for us the year has been both productive and enjoyable. Thanks to Zoom we have had our quarterly meetings and the pandemic has not dampened our enthusiasm or hindered our activities. However, we all hope that we shall be able to meet up in person before too long.

When I commented on the speed the years leave us behind, I am reminded of the year 2007, when I took over the chairman’s duties from Eric Earle, who is now in his mid-nineties, and the only surviving member of the original committee. Eric still takes a keen interest in our activities and I visit him regularly. He retains a fountain of knowledge going back to the Gold Coast days. Sadly, his dear wife Auriol died earlier this year and a tribute is included in our latest bulletin.

For some time I have been considering my future with Ghana School Aid. I have been a committee member for 25 years and Chairman for 14. I was fortunate to be able to work closely with Eric Earle. When he relinquished his Chairman’s duties in 2007, I immediately took over and have held the position ever since. For me, the time and effort has been all pleasure. I have discussed my future with the committee, who have agreed I can step down with effect from this meeting. We are very fortunate in that we have William Spooner on our committee who is willing to take over. William and his family have close connections with Ghana and he is just the person to introduce new ideas. Fortunately, he has youth on his side.

Our recent newsletter includes reports on our latest projects and we have provided funds to build a number of much needed toilet blocks in a selection of rural schools. I am happy to say that, thanks to increased funding, we have given away more funds than in the past. Some of the projects have been quite ambitious and fortunately we have our Ghanaian members who are carefully monitoring our efforts. Here I pay tribute to Kofi Ohene, Alhassan Baako and Patrick Nyanteh. Our website is frequently updated, which means that our activities are there for all to see.

As I said, our work is well documented on our website and this becoming our main source of income. This is encouraging, but it does give our treasurer plenty to do. Jo Hallett has been a marvellous secretary and Penny Sewell keeps our website up-to-date. Jennifer MacDougall, once more, has produced an excellent bulletin. These are just a few whose efforts ensure that the operation is well oiled. The Charity Commission are pleased with the way we operate and nearly all our income goes into our projects. Very little goes towards expenses and all of us give much of our free time. This I know will continue. The charity is in good hands. For me, my involvement has been all pleasure and I shall support our new chairman as he takes over the reins.

I close by sending thanks to all those involved and I know that Ghana School Aid will flourish in the years ahead. Bless you all.

Ted Mayne
Outgoing Chairman

Extract from our secretary’s report:

In the year 2021 -2021, we were able to give grants to 23 schools or projects, nearly all for toilets and sanitation, as this has been our focus for the past two years. During the “application window” of October 2019, we had 62 applications; in October 2020 we had over 70 more. It is clear that the need is very great; I have been sent photos of some dreadful facilities, and many schools have none at all. The effects are particularly severe for girl pupils and female teachers dealing with menstruation, but also have implications for the spread of disease.

6th May committee meeting

We held the meeting via Zoom. The most important item of business concerned grants awarded and to be awarded. We reviewed with pleasure the feedback we had received from schools and agreed a list of applications that had remained outstanding from our previous meeting. in recent years we have benefited from some generous legacies, but lately our income has fallen, yet applications for grants keep rising! We therefore decided, with much regret, that, for the time being, application should be by invitation only.

The schools which benefited from grants this time are: Asuofa DA Basic; Aperade Senior High; Akrodie lslamic; Manhyia No 1 Basic; Baaleyiri RC Basic; Diasibe AME Zion Primary; Ankoma DA Basic; Nyame Nti DA Basic; Anyinasuso EA Primary; Sampa Methodist Primary; Otabilkrom DA Primary; Abonse Presbyterian Basic.

2021 AGM: THURSDAY 17 JUNE 2pm via ZOOM

This year’s AGM will again be using Zoom. To join it you should send our Hon Sec Jo Hallett an email and nearer the time she will send you the link. Her address is info@ghanaschoolaid.org  I will send out a letter to everyone towards the end of March. Forgive me for reminding you that we always send an appeal for funds at this time and any sum you can get spare will be gratefully received – details of how to make a donation will be in the letter, or you can use the button on our website. Thank you in advance.

Committee meeting of 14.1.21 (via Zoom).

At our recent committee meeting, we lamented the fact that our funds are limited, because we had almost 70 very good applications for funding sanitation projects in Ghanaian schools. After careful consideration, we selected the following schools and organisations, our grants totalling almost £20 000.

Kyekywere, Akroma/Adzenyewodze, Ampekro, Chebogo, Dohini, Gindabo, Jonshegu, Knavilli-Tawfikiya, Kpongeri, Mbanayili, Seripe, Kenyasi No. 2, Kings Academy, Developing Kids Charity, Dimale, Walewale Technical/Vocational Institute.

Many of the other applications merited grants as well as the above, so much so that we have decided to cancel the March 2021 window and instead take up the list of sanitation projects and try to fund as many of them as possible. Decisions will be made at our May committee meeting.

Project Feedback September 2020

At our September committee meeting, secretary Jo Hallett showed us some of the pictures she had received showing projects newly completed, or in progress.  Here they are, with an indication of what the project was.  GSA is delighted to have helped make a big difference to children’s school experience.

 

 

Report on the Covid19 pandemic in Ghana

This is a brief update on Education and Covid19 in Ghana.

There had been a gradual easing of restrictions on education, in response to the level of cases on Covid19 pandemic. Statistics on Ghana, as at September 9, 2020 are as follows:

Cases 45,188; Recovered 44,042; Deaths 283

On the bases of scientific advice, a scheme of phased return, in batches to school/university, for revision, examination and completion of academic calendar for 2019/20 was introduced but with strict adherence to the MOH/WHO protocols. (Washing hands, wearing face masks, social distancing)

University students in their final year, were to return to campus, to complete revision of academic work and examination on-line and/or on campus. Almost all the universities have now completed the outstanding academic work for the year and graduation ceremonies online have been held in recent weeks. Fresh Admissions in progress.

The final year Senior High School students returned to their schools for revision and WAEC examinations in July/August and they have also completed and awaiting results.

The Final Year Junior High School students are to return to School for revision and write their BECE examination in September.

The 2nd Year SHS and JHS students are to return to school from 5th October for revision and end of year examinations. Class sizes to be reduced to 25 SHS and 30 JHS.

Academic Calendar for Nursery, Primary and First Year JHS and SHS has been cancelled.

A new academic year will begin in January 2021. The Ministry of Education /Ghana Education Service is working out arrangements for the modification of the curriculum and length of the term to mitigate, over time, any deficiencies in academic work.

As part of these arrangements, all institutions were fumigated, PPEs and materials for hand washing were provided. Schools were attached to near-by hospitals and also set up sick bay for emergencies.

JHS students and teachers are being provided with one hot meal a day for the period that they will be in school.

Meanwhile the 7 December 2020, time for General Elections is drawing near the political parties are making various promises on Education and social services. These include: Continuation of Free Education from Primary to SHS, extension of free education to students in private schools, extension of Free education to Universities/or 50 percent fees plus student loans.

S Kofi Ohene

GSA Representative, Accra 9th September, 2020

Owabi Primary School

This email message has reached us from Beatrice Darko, Headteacher.  It shows well the type of project we support and its successful result.  I will try to add one of the pictures sent.

Dear Jo,

My heart is filled with great joy to report to you and GSA photos showing the final completion of Owabi school toilet facilities renovation for both the Primary and kindergarten learners.
The importance of these two renovated toilet projects will offer a great help to the staff, the primary and the kg learners convenient place to toilet. At first, the toilet facilities always get flooded when it rains and it made the toilet usage to be very difficult by the staff and the learners. The kg toliets were more threatful to the learners.
But these problems are now solved now by GSA which the photos say it all. It has also given the school a nice look.
THANK YOU MESSAGE
On behalf of the staff, the learners, the SMC, PTA, the entire community and myself, we show a great gratitude to GSA for coming to our aid to renovate our primary and kg toilet facilities for us.
We are also greatful to Madam Jo who warmly received and processed our application to the board for decision making which led to our application approval.
We also thank Mr. Ohene for his tremendous effort to leading to the transfer and receiving of the grant even when the money was mistakenly transferred to different rural bank from Apex Bank. He stood behind us with the evidence documents to the receival of the money.
We say God richly bless all the members of GSA with divine protection over this harmful covid 19 pandemic.
Ayekooooo!!! to GSA.
ADDITIONAL REQUEST
Dear Jo, as Oliver Twist always ask for more, we humbly appeal to GSA to help build a new urinal facilities for the staff and the learners because the school has no urinal facilities for appropriate disposal of urine.
Because of the lack of urinal facilities the learners urinate indiscriminately and which makes it  very difficult to control them and this can lead to an outbreak of diseases.
We again count on your great support to my school Owabi primary this our second pressing sanitation need as you welcome sanitation applications in October this year.
Thank you.
Beatrice
Owabi Primary School

New toilet facilities at Owabi Primary School

Annual General Meeting 2020 – Summary of Minutes

Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the meeting was held (on Thursday 25th June) on Zoom.  This allowed people who are normally not able to attend, to be present.  We were delighted that 22 people joined us, from across the UK, from Accra, Tamale, and even Myanmar!  This is a summary of the Minutes prepared by Jo Hallett.

The Chairman’s report and the Secretary’s report can be read on this website.

It was particularly pleasing to listen to our Patron, Lord Paul Boateng, who visited Ghana in March and noted positive changes in education, such as free secondary education.  But he also noted the underfunding of education in general, and the neediness of the Northern Regions.  He had praise for Ghana’s public health system – hospitals were not overwhelmed and there was an effective testing system in place.  However, Ghana struggles with basics such as good nutrition and sanitation.  He was very appreciative of the achievements of Ghana School Aid, and ended by saying “the Ghana you all love remains”.

Penny reported a new fund-raising initiative consisting of sending appeal letters, under the guidance of a professional fund-raiser, to suitable Charitable Trusts.  We live in hope…  She is always keen to have feedback re the website.  Rita described the Facebook page she has set up.  We are all encouraged to “like” it!

The Committee was reelected nem con and William will take on the official role of Vice-Chair.

We heard from Kofi Ohene in Accra.  He has worked with GSA since its inception in 1986 and his help in transferring funds, visiting schools and advising the committee is invaluable.  We also heard from Salifu Baako who has worked with us since 2009.  He is Headteacher of a JHSchool in Tamale.  He visits schools on our behalf, helps schools with their appeals and offers the committee his very welcome advice.  Finally, Reginald Quartey, who now works in the Curriculum Department of the Ghana Education Service, was very supportive of our work.  He said that some secondary pupils were back in school, but primary pupils would return in September.

The meeting, much appreciated by all, closed at 4.10pm

Secretary’s report AGM 2020

Our AGM was held on Zoom on 25th June 2020.  Jo Hallett, our Honorary Secretary, gave us this report:

Ghana School Aid is still a thriving charity!

We were recently asked to calculate the number of lives impacted by our grants.  In a 12-month period, we regularly support projects in 32 schools.  At a rough estimate the average number of pupils in a school will be 200 – so that’s 6,400 new children and adults who benefit in one year!

The wide range of projects supported is reflected in the wonderful 2020 Newsletter, and page 3 of the Treasurer’s report lists all of them.  Projects included cement to replace mud floors, the roofing of classrooms, fitting windows and doors, building a toilet block and, above all, furniture for pupils and staff.  The need seems to be infinite!  And we have had a growing number of applications.  We decided to limit the timing of requests to “application windows” and to specify the theme each time, in a bid to make the situation more manageable.

However, this well-intentioned strategy backfired!  In October 2019 we had over 60 applications for Water and Sanitation Projects in schools, across Ghana, but sadly few from the northern regions (where access to the internet is limited).

Clearly, we could not help all of them.  The applications were sorted on to a large spreadsheet, according to size of school, nature of project, number of pupils, and so on.  We found (predictably perhaps) that the borehole projects were too expensive for our budget.

We then prioritised the requests from schools in the north, and schools that had not had a grant previously.  Finally, we chose the schools asking for the smallest grants in order to impact the largest number of schools.  Twenty schools received grants for toilets, urinals, rehabilitation of a well, veronica buckets and dustbins.

Much as we would like to be providing clean water as well as toilets, this is not within our financial capacity.  The next topics for applications are Sanitation Projects (October 2020) and School Furniture (March 2021).

This really is a team effort!  Different members of the committee in the UK take on different roles, from looking after our finances to keeping us in the public eye with the GSA website and a Facebook page.  In Ghana, Salifu Baako is our representative in the north, overseeing a number of schools in and around Tamale, and Kofi Ohene, in Accra, is absolutely key to our distribution of grants to schools.  A huge thank-you to everyone!

The committee has adapted well to the challenge of the coronavirus epidemic, and, like many organisations, we have been meeting on Zoom.  Schools in Ghana have been closed, but many are still in touch with us by email.

I look forward to another year of the important task of supporting education in Ghana.