At every Annual General Meeting since I took over the chairmanship of Ghana School Aid, I have said “Where has the past year gone?” Time passes by so quickly, yet when we analyse the work of Ghana School Aid we can see how far we have progressed. When we last met we were updated on the schools in the Volta Region which are being closely monitored by Penny Sewell. We can see just how much progress both of them have made. From being little more than a couple of empty shells, the two schools have taken shape and have grown into centres of academic excellence. Our efforts have ensured a good education for so many and hopefully they will progress and take in even more pupils. The same can be said for the Hartley Trust Foundation School at Kasoa which we have supported for 15 years. We recently provided them with a new generator which means that lessons are guaranteed, even when the electricity supplies fail.
One point on which I wish to put emphasis is the education of women in Ghana. We have always made an effort to channel our resources into projects where girls can benefit as well as boys. An ancient Ghanaian saying says, “A woman is the home and the home is the basis of society”. It is as we build our homes that we build our country. If the home is inadequate – either inadequate in material goods and necessities or inadequate in the sort of friendly loving atmosphere that every child needs to grow and develop – then that country cannot have harmony and no country which does not have harmony can grow in any direction at all.
That is why women’s education is as important as the education of males. Most – not all – countries in the world have neglected women’s education. Now we have education there is a debate (it’s the same all over Africa) whether the education we have is adequate for the needs of Ghanaian society and the young people’s future. Ghana’s system is not bad. It produces very fine men and women, especially scientists and experts in different fields who are in great demand all over the world and even in the most affluent countries. Many of Ghana’s young people sadly leave and go abroad because they get better conditions of work. Take just one look at Germany which has more Ghanaian medical doctors than there are in the whole of Ghana. This needs to be changed.
One of the biggest responsibilities of the educated women in Ghana today is how to synthesise what has been valuable and timeless in their ancient traditions with what is good and valuable in modern thought. All that is modern is not necessarily good, just as all that is old is neither all good or all bad. We have to decide, not once and for all, but almost every week, every month, what is coming out that is good and useful for Ghana and what of the old we can keep and enshrine in the society.
Now for Ghana tomorrow to become what we want it to become, a modern, rational society and family, based on what is good in its ancient traditions, we have to have a thinking public, thinking young women who are not content to accept what comes from any part of the world, but are willing to listen to it, to analyse it and to decide whether it is to be accepted or thrown out, and this is the sort of education we want, which enables our young people to adjust to this ever-changing world and to be able to contribute to it.
Our projects are few, but looking at a map of Ghana they are situated all over the country. From the Greater Accra Region across the areas close to the sea, to the Volta, Eastern Ghana and the Northern Districts. Throughout we concentrate on providing the best education our limited funds can provide. But considering the constraints we face, we manage to do a good job. Having the likes of Patrick Heinecke, Joe Hallett, Kate Regan, Penny Sewell, Sue Hewlett and Letitia Boateng regularly visiting Ghana, these projects can be well-monitored. We get up-to-date reports on all of them and full details are posted on our website. In every project we see progress and I want to use this opportunity to put emphasis on the works of Patrick Heinecke who is dedicated to the work of the Sandema project. This project is in the harsh, hot, dry region of Northern Ghana. Conditions there are not easy, but Patrick has persevered over the years to bring about a better life for so many. Here we have seen how is trying to put women first and he has sown seeds in what is fertile ground, and we are beginning to see the results.
The next 12 months will be challenging, but we are all up for it and our efforts will continue. There is no job that is too small. There is no person who is too small. What we want to do is to make a better world by putting into perspective Ghana’s problems and the need for education for its people.
In conclusion, I must hank you all for your help and support.