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.

Chairman’s Report 2020

We held our AGM by Zoom on Thursday 25th June 2020 (see separate report).  Here is the Annual Report, given by our chairman, Ted Mayne:

AKWAABA !

We have had a testing year, what with the Coronavirus Pandemic and the extensive requests from rural schools in Ghana.  I do not really know where to start, but I can confirm that, thanks to our representatives on the ground, we have managed to support more projects than ever before.  This is because we have received nearly £35,000 in donations from generous donors and legacies.

When I first went to Ghana in 1987, I became conscious of the thousands of children who had received little or no education.  1987 was a hard time for Ghana:  there were food shortages and the country was very slowly climbing out of a severe recession.  The World Bank was there to lend a helping hand and slowly but surely things improved.  It was around this time that Ghana School Aid came into existence and this dedicated team of old Gold Coasters were able to see where the schooling deficiencies lay.  Francophone Africa appeared to be so much ahead of the game and Ghana was likely to be left behind. However, things did change and by due diligence and hard work the country has risen from the ashes and moved forward.

There was much to do and very quickly funds were raised to finance education in the rural schools.  The grants were only small but our efforts made such a difference to these rural schools.  Over the next 30+ years the charity grew and we were able to finance several major projects.  This was an achievement in itself and once our website was built, we were able to “show the world” what we were doing.  Originally, we only raised £3,000 and this slowly increased, and I am pleased to report that in the 12 months up to 27th March 2020 we raised almost £35,000.  This is amazing and our recent Newsletter contains up-to-date information on our achievements so far.

Our fund-raising methods have been revolutionised:  gone are the small raffles and small cheques from donors, to be replaced by 4 to 5 figure legacies from individuals who have discovered our existence through the internet.  I can report that our hard-working committee keeps the show on the road.

In spite of “lockdown”, information technology has enabled us to have our quarterly committee meeting thanks to Zoom and for the first time ever, this AGM, .

Patrick Heinecke, who now no longer attends our meetings and no longer travels to Ghana, is still active with the Sandema Project.  This means that we shall continue to support this project.  Patrick has not been to Ghana for two years, but he remains as passionate as ever about the work in the upper regions.

Coronavirus has left much of our work in Ghana in the balance.  Most of the schools remain closed, which is not good.  So many of them have seen their funds dry up and it will take a long time to restore their finances to their previous level.  We are fortunate that we have Kofi Ohene who can manage our funds in Ghana, so our projects can survive.

The GSA committee has been fantastic.  Every member has remained on fire for the people of Ghana.  I cannot let this report pass without mentioning Jennifer MacDougall who produced a marvelous Newsletter.  I am sure you will agree that it is a true work of art.  It is creative and full of articles describing exactly what we have achieved over the past year.

I am sad that we will not be meeting up for our AGM, but I am pleased that we have Zoom to act as a substitute.  I hope all will be well for 2021.  There is much to achieve and I end by quoting the much-maligned Cecil Rhodes who said, “so much to do, so little done”.  In real terms, our efforts have been small, and there is much to do.  However, the little we do does make a huge difference to the impoverished schools that we support.

We have had encouraging comments from one of our longest-standing members,  Lalage Bown, who went to West Africa in 1949.  She sent glowing comments on our recent Newsletter.  I spoke to her last week and, at the age of 93, she is as bright as ever.  Eric and Auriol Earle, who can no longer attend our meetings remain avid supporters.  Both are well into their nineties and I have enjoyed visiting them and updating them on our work.

This concludes my report and I hope we shall regroup next year.  God bless you all.

Project reports from schools

I try to post as many of the wonderful reports we get back from schools in receipt of grants from Ghana School Aid as I can.  At the moment I would like to refer you to our excellent Newsletter 2020, which is available on this website.  Here is a list of schools featured in the UPDATE ON PROJECTS section.

Esinianim District Assembly Primary School, Brong Ahafo;  (Akim) Batabi Primary School, Eastern Region;  Asunsu No 2 Roman Catholic Primary School, Brong Ahafo;  Kwaboanta D/A JHS, Eastern Region;  Kenyasi No 2 Methodist School, Brong Ahafo;  Asanteman L/A Primary, JHS, Brong Ahafo;  Aboabo L/A Basic School, Brong Ahafo;  Suponso-Onomabo Basic School, (also referred to as Akim Anamabi), Birim Central District, Eastern Region;  Assin Asamankese TI Ahmadiya Basic School, Boameso, Central Region;  Techimantia TI Ahmadiya Basic School, Brong Ahafo;  Asikaso D/A Basic School, Eastern Region;  Yilonaayili Anglican Primary School, Northern Region;  Tibung D/A JHS, Northern Region;  Kenyasi No 1 RC Basic School, Brong Ahafo;  Dumso-Bethel Primary School, Brong Ahafo;  Kumosa M/A Primary School, Brong Ahafo.

That’s sixteen of the schools helped in the very recent past.  Many are from Brong Ahafo.  That is because many schools from Brong Ahafo applied to us, and were successful.  We do, however, like to spread our grants right round the country.

Your shopping can raise funds for GSA !

We can raise money for GSA when shopping.

Ghana School Aid is registered with the on-line shopping fundraiser Give as you Live. There are two ways to raise funds through Give as you Live.  First, you need to register with Give as you Live (www.giveasyoulive.com) . This will cost you nothing.

The first method for fund-raising while you shop is for you to log on to the  GiveasyouLive website, you can then access one of the contributing merchants, eg. Tesco, M&S, Ocado, Aviva insurance, EasyJet, Europcar, Hotter shoes, the RSPB shop and many, many more, and a small percentage of what you spend goes to GSA.  Whenever you wish to purchase something online, it is worth checking if you can do so via the GiveasyouLive website.                                                         

The second method is to purchase in-store shopping cards from Give as you Live.  The cards are sent to you and can be reloaded at will. For example, if you buy a £100 shopping card for Tesco, you will raise £2.00, for M&S  £3.00 and for John Lewis/Waitrose,  £1.50.  When you go to the store, you simply pay using your Give as you Live card for that store.

As you can see, a community of GSA supporters all contributing in either of those ways, could provide a useful small income stream for us. “Many a mickle makes a muckle!”

 Please do have a look at Give as you Live if you use the internet and whether or not you do, please consider recommending it to friends and family who might be interested.

Report of committee meeting, 7.5.20

The committee held its meeting via Zoom as coronavirus restrictions meant it was not possible to meet in person.  We were very pleased with the way Zoom worked, especially as one of our representatives in Ghana was able to attend!

We decided to use Zoom to conduct our AGM at 2pm (British time) on 25th June this year, and I am contacting all our supporters with that information.  We hope to have a really good “attendance”!  Since the AGM is open to the general public, if you would like to join it, please contact me via our website and I will send you the link nearer the time.

Among the topics discussed at our meeting were fundraising, the imminent publication of our Newsletter, reports from school in receipt of grants.  We noted that the coronavirus pandemic has delayed the transfer of some of the funds already granted, but we understand the transfers will soon take place.

Although we had cancelled the March application window, for technical reasons three outstanding grant applications were discussed at our meeting, and I am pleased to announce approval of grants to Enyankwaa D/A Primary School; Hiakose Abodease RC Basic School; and Chief Nimpadu Ntiamoah Memorial School, Endwa.

The next application window will be 1st to 31st October, with the theme SANITATION, and the first 2021 window will be 1st to 31st March, with the theme CLASSROOM FURNITURE.