EXPANDING THE FRONTIERS OF EDUCATION TO DEPRIVED COMMUNITIES IN NORTHERN GHANA – THE SCHOOL FOR ALL INNOVATIVE PROJECT
Education is considered a fundamental human right and a key to a country’s development. In Ghana, millions of kids lack access to education. Not only is access a problem but quality of education is equally an issue particularly in rural communities in Ghana. The barriers to education in the country are several and varied. In order to overcome these barriers and open the doors of education to all children irrespective of their circumstances, PAMEPI came out with the “School for All” Innovative Project. The “School for All” project is an educational outreach project that contributes towards addressing the barriers that hinders African children especially those in rural and deprived communities from access to quality education. The concept of the “School for All” Project is to take education to the doorstep of rural and deprived communities.
The idea for the “School for All” was first conceived by the Executive Director of PAMEPI Mr. Fuseini Yakubu who being a man with a rural background himself and being one who understands the plight of rural communities when it comes to education thought that mobilising reusable educational materials like pens, uncompleted note books, exercise books, old school uniforms, broken pencils would be useful to children in rural communities who are in dire need of educational materials.
This brilliant and innovative idea was first shared with Rev. George Gyasi Baaye who advised that the idea should be developed. Also Dr. Sheldon Gellar a Consultant and Democracy Advisor to the US government on Africa upon being briefed on the concept shared a similar sentiment with Rev. George Gyasi Baaye. This marked the birth of the “School for All” Project. Mr Fuseini Yakubu authored the proposal for the “School for All” Project which subsequently was reviewed by Rev. George Gyasi Baaye and Prof. Simona Cohen and edited by Dr. Sheldon Gellar. In October 2009, the “School for All” Project was launched in Tel-Aviv, Israel. In attendance to grace the occasion were representatives of the African Workers Union, members of the African community, African Diplomats and the Filipino community, the Israeli community represented by high profile members like Orna Porat first Isreali woman to received key to Berlin city in recognition of her philanthropic works, Dr. Ruth Dayan wife of first Israel Army General Moshie Dayan, Professor Galia Sabar head of Tel-Aviv University African Studies and Middle East Departmen and currentlyPresident of Rupping Academic Center, Professor Simona Cohen and Student Representatives of Tel-Aviv University.
A first phase of the pilot project of the “School for All” Project was immediately implemented in Tamale and Saakuba in the Northern Region of Ghana following the successful launch of the project in Tel-Aviv. The pilot project was aimed at testing the feasibility of the ideas captured in the “School for All” concept.
School for All Project Results
Prior to the first phase of the pilot project, children of school going age in Saakuba and surrounding communities within the Kumbungu/Tolon District lacked access to quality education. Enrolment and general interest in education were low, absenteeism and teenage migration were rampant, sports accessories and other physical educational materials were all lacking.
The “School for All” Project operated on a model where Tamale the capital city of Northern Region was designated as donating community and Saakuba including surrounding communities as receiving entities. During the period of rolling out this intervention, Professor Galia Sabar of Tel-Aviv University sent a student volunteer Netta Kubitsky from Ort Hashomron Binyamina in Israel to assist. Some students of the University of Ghana also took part as volunteers. Mobilisation of volunteers, resources, project planning and training all took place in Tamale.
A post intervention analysis conducted revealed pupils now have adequate access to learning materials, daily attendance increased resulting in a drop in the number of absenteeism, irregular migration declined, PTA meetings increased and issues affecting the smooth running of PTA addressed. The intervention also resulted in the establishment of a Community Educational Fund where proceeds from communal farmlands were used to support educational activities in the communities. Saakuba Primary School became the first school within its catchment area to have it own Post Office Box in the Northern Region as a result of the Educational Fund.
The success of the pilot project in Saakuba caught the attention of the current Member of Parliament for Ellembele Constituency of the Western Region, Honourable Emmanuel Armah Buah who requested the project be piloted in Asasetre community making the community the second to benefit from the pilot project. PAMEPI in partnership with Professor Galia Sabar of Tel-Aviv University, two IT students were sent from Israel to teach children and train teachers and community members of Asasetre in IT.
The uniqueness of this project hinged around four core pillars that is self-awareness, self-empowerment, self-initiative and all inclusive participatory models. Thinking outside the box prompted PAMEPI to construct the “School for All” conceptual model which may be more suited to the African environment.
The pilot project was implanted over 9 months from June 2010 to March 2011. One of the major objectives of the phase one project was to test ideas stipulated in the “School for All” proposal to examine its relevance to the participatory communities before replicating the project to other communities
In all over 3,500 poor rural kids and teachers benefited from the first pilot project. The former vice president of Ghana the late Alhaji Aliu Mahama, former president John Agyekum Kuffour, former president Jerry John Rawlings including former interim president of Liberia professor Amus Sowyer all recorgnized the impact of the intervention in reaching out to deprived communities in Ghana. The late former vice president of Ghana Alhaji Aliu Mahama became the chairman of school for all council of elders.
On 17th November 2011, the late former vice president of Ghana Alhaji Aliu Mahama, the first Israeli ambassador to Ghana Sharon Bar-Li, Alain Volz, the president of the 66 Women wing in Netherlands, Municipal Chief Executive of Axim all officially graced the first launch of School for All project in Accra Ghana.
Following the success story of the “School for All” Project, Mr. Fuseini Yakubu the Executive Director of PAMEPI was invited in 2012 by the university of Massachusetts Amherst and The Global Citizen Initiative (TGCI) to make a presentation on the pilot project at their emerging young leaders global leadership certificate training program which was held in the university of Massachusetts Amherst USA. The presentation won the heart of the then Superintendent of Cranford Public school Dr. Carrick M. Gayle who subsequently invited Mr. Fuseini Yakubu to Cranford, New Jersey to share the success story of the project with the great people of Cranford. During this visit, Mr. Fuseini Yakubu met with Cranford Rotary Club members, librarians, students, teachers, Principals of schools including Seventh Congressional District Congressman Leonard Lance. All these people were touched by the success story of the “School for All” Project in Ghana. In September 2012, Mr. Fuseini Yakubu had the opportunity to address over 300 Cranford Public School teachers and Board members via a recorded video on the need for them to partner and support the project. The outcome of the meetings by Cranford rotary club and Cranford Board of Education resulted in the donation of a 55 seated bus to our organization to be used as a Mobile Library Bus. However due to lack of funds the bus could not be shipped to Ghana. The bus was subsequently re-donated to the Fire Service. Dr. Carrick M. Gayle intervened by contacting her friend Mrs Camilla Widdows to help retrieve the bus for PAMEPI. Through the unrelenting efforts of Mrs. Camilla Widdows the bus has been released to Dr. Carrick M. Gayle now awaiting shipment to PAMEPI in Ghana. Beyond the donation of the bus, Cranford teachers, students, parents and librarians together also raised thousands of books and funded its shipment to Ghana in 2014. This singular act of generosity from the Cranford district New Jersey uplifted the “School for All” Project. Kumbungu District Assembly also supported by contributing funds towards paying for the release of the books from the port and from transportation to Saakuba. As a result of our partnership with Cranford Public Schools, pupils from Saakuba Primary School, kings Village School, Tamale International School and Dakpema Primary School started cross-sea skype video on educational and cultural exchange programs with their counterparts ( Brookside Place School, Livingston Avenue School and Orange Avenue School) in Cranford. USA Independent Press Reporter Barbara Rybolt widely covered the skype video conference between the students. In the absence of the bus, volunteers began the circulation of donated books to communities through bicycles, which in fact helped so many children to access reading books that would have been hard to access.
In 2014 Mr. Fuseini Yakubu was again invited by Authentic Leadership in Action ( ALIA ) Europe to represent Ghana and share the success of the “School for All” Project in Driebagen Netherlands. The people of Driebagen were impressed with the project.
In 2016 our German partner Christoph Wenzl and a Librarian Margit Schneider donated funds and educational materials to support the project.
Mr. Peter Capodice Superintendent of Union County Vocational – Technical Schools in Scotch Plains New Jersey, upon hearing the story of the “School for All” Project was touched and has since decided to adopt the project on behalf of the district. Towards the end of 2018, Mr. Peter Capodice handed over the project to Dr. Paul Rafalowski the immediate past Principal of Union County Magnet High School to assemble a team made up of teachers and students to completely transform the bus into a proper Mobile Library Bus funded by the Scotch Plains Board of Trustee. To this end, Mr. Fuseini Yakubu the Executive Director of PAMEPI and Coordinator of the “School For All” project had his first cross-sea video conference with teachers and students to exchange ideas on how to transform the bus into a Mobile Library Bus. The second cross-sea conference via Facebook video saw in attendance Mr. Peter Capodice the then Superintendent of Union County Vocational-Technical Schools, Dr. Paul Rafalowski, Board of education, Board of trustees, teachers, and students including Noble policemen. At the moment Union County Vocational-Technical Schools and Union County Magnet High School are in the final stage of completing the transformation of the bus into a Mobile Library bus. When completed the bus would be shipped to Ghana to serve the needs of four Regions and ten districts making it accessible to thousands of children across Ghana.
By 2030, we envisioned the “School for All” project to be fully replicated in all the Regions across Ghana whiles exploring to replicate it in other African countries.
As we near the completion of the transformation of the Mobile Library Bus, we are looking for partners to assist in funding the shipment of the Mobile Library Bus from New Jersey to Ghana. Few districts in Ghana have functional libraries hence the need for this Mobile Library Bus. In January 2020, Professor Abdulai Iddrisu will be leading a group of 30 students from St. Olaf College, USA to Ghana. The students will be funding the purchase of text books to cater for the educational needs of five districts so that students from poor family backgrounds can borrow the books to learn and return it for others to benefit.
Today the hopes of rural children from these beneficiary districts across Ghana who aspire to be medical doctors, teachers, engineers and responsible citizens are guaranteed by these partnerships between PAMEPI and the international bodies. What makes these partnerships so unique and can be describe as generational blessing is that for 7 years the people of Cranford led by Dr. Carrick M. Gayle and Union County Vocational-Technical Schools led by Mr. Peter Capodice and Gwen Ryan current Supretendent remains steadfast in their quest to fulfill the dreams of children thousands of miles away from them. Our partnerships also demonstrate that the world become safer if we overcome boundaries to work in unison.
For 10 years the “School for All” wagon has witnessed the unconditional participation and contribution of great men and women, young and old some of whom are deceased today. As we soldier on with sorrow and grieve their absence, we are comforted by the facts that their legacy brought us to where we are today and for more generations to come. If we are given countless years to measure the depth of our indebtedness to these illustrious individuals, we may not be able to do so.
As we move on to provide education for all children in Ghana irrespective of their location, race, ethnicity, religion or gender, we need more partnerships from organizations, districts in USA, Europe, UK, Canada, Australia, Asia or Middle East to partner us by donating a bus, educational materials, funds and volunteers to support in this noble course.
You can support this project to reach out to more less privileged children through playing a role in fundraising, raising reusable educational materials like reading books, unfinished note books, pens, pencils even broken pencil can make a difference or contributing towards the Mobile Library bus shipment to Ghana.
To support us kindly contact us at below address.
Phone: +233248520764 / +233509880708