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.

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.

The fight against Covid 19 in Ghana

One of our representatives in Ghana has sent us this very good report of the current situation in Ghana.  He has kindly given us permission to post it on our website.

 

The Fight Against Covid 19 in Ghana 

The first two cases of Covid 19 were reported in Ghana on March 12, 2020. The initial reported cases were from travelers from Turkey and Norway. Since then, the Government has been introducing measures to control and prevent spread of coronavirus. 

 All Educational Institutions, both Public and Private, were closed, indefinitely from 16th March 2020.  Two weeks later some additional measures were introduced. These include, restrictive movement in the hotspots of the outbreak, quarantine of passengers from countries where more than 200 cases have been reported, testing of all travelers at point of entry, and eventually closure of country’s borders, and ban on air flights.

As at 11 April 2020 a total of 37,954 persons have been tested for Covid 19, with 556 being positive, 4 treated and discharged and 8 dead.

An Emergency Legislation on Imposition of Restrictions Bill has been passed to help aid the enforcement of President’s directives.  The President has been addressing the country each week. He delivered the 6th address on Easter Friday, April 10, 2020. In addition, a Special Team provides daily update and press briefing.

Greater Accra, Tema, Kasoa and Kumasi Metropolitan areas were totally Lockdown from March 30, 2020. There is a ban on public gatherings in churches, mosques, social centres, beaches, festivals and funerals.

Shops are closed, except those selling food items.  There are restrictions in movement of people from one district to another.

Isolation Centres have been established in all Regional and District hospitals.  Frontline Staff, including Medical, Police, Military, others providing essential services are provided with PPE, other protective clothing/materials depending on degree of contact with people.

Noguchi Medical Research Centre at Legon is the National Laboratory for testing and confirmation of cases.  A team has been established in all Regions to undertake contact tracing of persons who arrived in Ghana from abroad from 3rd March 2020; and those who have come into contact with persons who have been tested positive.

Fumigation exercises have been carried out in major markets throughout the country and it has been extended to Tertiary Educational Institutions.

 

PROVISION OF FUNDS AND INCENTIVES FOR THE FIGHT AGAINST COVID19

The Government has introduced some incentives, aimed at ameliorating the hardship of the citizenry, following the introduction of Lockdown and restrictions in movement.  These include: 1. Free bus transport, meals, 50 percent increase in monthly salary, for frontline personnel; 2. Absorption of Water Bills and 50 per cent reduction in Electricity Bills for March, April and May 2020 for all citizens. 

In addition, the Government has allocated funds to District Assemblies to support combat against the coronavirus.

Institutions, Organizations, companies and individuals have also been making contributions in cash and in kind to support government’s efforts in fighting against the spread and prevention of coronavirus. 

A National Committee has been established to receive and manage all such donations and contributions.

Some street children, market head porters and some vulnerable persons in lockdown areas, have been provided with free temporary accommodation and meals.  Free meals on wheels, tanker water supplies are being provided by government and private organisations and distributed to people living in slum areas in the cities and some remote districts.

 

ARRANGEMENTS FOR CONTINUATION OF LEARNING AND EDUCATION

Following the closure of all schools, measures have been introduced with a view to ensuring continuity of learning and education.

The University Institutions are using online facilities for studies and contacts

Senior High Schools, Junior High Schools and Primary Schools are provided with scheduled learning programmes from designated Television Stations.

School Certificate Examinations, WASSCE for SHS and BECE for JHS final year students have been suspended.

CHALLENGES IN THE FIGHT AGAINST COVID 19

As part of the measures against the spread of covid 19 the Government has directed strict adoption and enforcement of WHO Protocols in Ghana.

A major challenge has been enforcement of practicing, social distancing and hand washing. 

Some cultural practices (e.g, shaking of hands, funerals), housing facilities, open markets, transport facilities and poverty, combine to make it difficult in enforcing social distancing, lockdown, and restrictions in movements.

In the area of education, lack of facilities in remote villages for Television, and Internet connectivity, will mitigate against availability and equal access to learning resources being provided for virtual and distance learning during the emergency period.

The country’s resources may not be able to cope with rapid increase in demand for Medical Care, if the covid 19 spread to proportions as being experienced in Europe and USA.

Poor living conditions and abject poverty in some parts of the country will make life difficult for vulnerable people during the enforcement of the restrictions against the spread of covid 19.

Under the circumstances the Government and the people of Ghana are making the best efforts against the spread and prevention of covid19.

Kofi Ohene, GSA Ghana Representative  

April 13, 2020

 

 

Committee meeting of 6th February 2020

We allocated grants totaling over £18,000, the maximum we could manage, given our limited resources.   It was extremely difficult to decide which schools, out of the 60 which applied to us, should receive our support.  In the end we decided that responding positively to the more modest requests allowed us to impact the most students, and spread resources more evenly.  I am delighted to list here the schools which will benefit this time round:

Kanvilli Tawfikya; Tibung Teachers’ Quarters; Kalpohin Kalmaria; Nyanpkala UDS Basic School; Hamile T I Primary School; Kenyasi No. 2;  Kwaboanta JHS;  Owabi D/A Primary School;  Akrodie R/C Primary School;  Akrodie M/A Basic School;  Gwira Eshlem Methodist Basic School;  Adukrom Asuogya MA Basic School;  Asene Nuriyah Islamic Basic School;  Kwabenakrom MA Basic School;  Asene Catholic Primary and KG School;  Nsowkow Presby Primary A School;  Edumanu MA Primary School;  Jema DA JHS;   Babiledoure L/A Primary School;  Krabonso Methodist JHS.

STOP PRESS:  Because our resources are so limited and the demand is so great, we are regretfully CANCELLING the next window (15th Feb to 31st March 2020).  It will be replaced by a new window 1st to 31st October 2020, theme to be decided in May.

Our AGM is scheduled for Thursday 25th June, 11am in the crypt of St. Mary’s Church, Islington, London.