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 firstname.lastname@example.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.
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.
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
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.
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:
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.
I’m delighted to announce that the latest edition of our Newsletter has been dispatched to our supporters and also posted on the Newsletters page on this website. It makes heart-warming reading.
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
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.
We spent a very enjoyable day on 13th June in the Crypt of St Mary’s Church, Islington. The morning was spent reviewing our activities for the past year. Secretary Jo Hallett provided us with a two-page document itemizing 29 Ghana school which had received grants between February and September 2018. The list was impressive, and the feedback always grateful and emphasizing the difference the grant had made to the operation of the school. Our main source of income has been some generous legacies left to us by people whose professional lives had taken them to Ghana, a country which remains dear to our hearts for all sorts of reasons. Full accounts were scrutinized and will be posted on our website. The committee was reelected nem con. I reproduce below the text of the Chairman’s report.
“Welcome to everyone and thank you for turning up today for this AGM and Reunion Lunch. This is the fourth time we have met here and the venue is proving to be popular. A huge thank you to Penny Sewell for the effort she has made to organise this occasion so well.
Ghana School Aid has had a good year and reports coming out of Ghana indicate that the nation is coping well and making progress in the education programmes. Of course all is not perfect but, from the evidence available, the situation is improving. With regard to Ghana School Aid, we continue to support projects in the North with emphasis on girls. We have been helped by the increase in donations from our supporters. In addition,our up-to-date website has enabled would-be contributors to gather information on what we actually do and I have been hugely encouraged by the way that our bank balance has grown and we have considerably increased our giving. The response from our recipients has been phenomenal and most encouraging. We received a generous legacy for nearly £10,000 from Sheila Mercer and a similar amount from the estate of Elizabeth Bennett. Generous donations from the estate of John Hampshire and £5,000 from Karola Strong. One surprise came in the form of a cheque from St James’s Place Charitable Foundation for £2,500 to go to Asuadei Basic School in Brong-Ahafo. Full details of our finances appear in our Newsletter. We actually received nearly £41,000 in one year to March 2019 which is amazing considering our annual totals in the past were around the lower four figure mark. In the 12 months up to March 2019 we were able to give away almost £43,000. This is fantastic and we have received numerous letters of thanks from grateful schools.
Looking back over the year, it is easy to see why and how we have made so much progress and this is thanks to the efficient way Penny Sewell and Jo Hallett have kept our website up-to-date. All this, plus our Newsletter produced so professionally by Jennifer MacDougall. Our website gives a clear indication of what we have achieved and what are our aims. Our Newsletter and website have provided the public with a shop window which comprehensively details our achievements.
I cannot conclude without further expressing the importance of a good education and many of the Ghanaians who have been helped by Ghana School Aid are very grateful and we have provided them with a lift out of poverty. In Ghana poverty and the breakdown of family life have secondary effects. Too many children wander about the streets because they have no schools to go to, or nor money for them to go to school, or no parents at home to see that they go to school, because both parents (if there be two) have to work to keep the family alive. This so often leads to a breakdown in moral standards. This is a mounting problem. It is hoped that Ghana’s recently found wealth from oil will go some way to easing the burden of the poor and lift them out of poverty. It was Clement Attlee who said that if we can educate our people we will eliminate poverty nd sickness. Our small contribution to education in Ghana does not go far, but it is of vital assistance for those whom we are targeting. We must go on.”
After a very pleasant lunch, with lots of old friends catching up on news, we reconvened to hear three very interesting presentations. Sarah Albebourle recounted how she had been to Lawra as a volunteer and had come to realise how best to help people in the region. With help of her family she has founded a charity called ACTION THROUGH ENTERPRISE with three aims: to provide school dinners; to improve the lot of the disabled; to mentor and support people as they start small businesses. We were all extremely impressed with Sarah’s activities. Then Jane Scott gave us an update on the WULUGU project which seems to go from strength to strength, and finally Sadia Hussain described her three-month stay in Ghana, volunteering in both the North and in the Volta Region. We were delighted to hear all three reports. Here are some pictures of the meeting. Apologies to Jane, whose photo somehow vanished from my phone.
At the GSA committee meeting in April, the following schools were awarded grants totalling £9230.00.
Kalpohin Kamaria School, Northern Region; Akosa D/A Basic School, Brong Ahafo; Aperade Methodist Primary School, Eastern Region; Asikaso D/A Basic School, Eastern Region; Kenyasi No 1 R.C. Basic School; Dumso Bethel Primary School; Kumoso M/A Primary School, Asunefo S; New Hope Educational Development, Berekuso; Asunu No. 2 Catholic Primary School and JHS; Asanteman L/A Primary School; Batabi Presbyterian School; Aboabo L/A Basic School; Sandema (FISTRAD project on reading for JHS students)