Supporting the construction of eight satellite schools in Ghana

The project also comprises training of teachers and school board members to achieve the optimum situation in the schools

Between 600,000 and 1,000,000 children do not attend school in Ghana, in spite of a 50 percent increase in primary school enrolments since 2002. The problem is particularly severe in the poor northern part of the country, with one of the main reasons being the long distances pupils have to walk to get to school. Distances of up to 15 km are normal, making it impossible for very young children in particular to attend school. And once they are old enough to walk these distances, they are too old to be in a year 1 class. Teachers' skill levels are also low - most teachers are untrained, resulting in a highly unsatisfactory quality of instruction.

To help provide education for the poorest children in Ghana, the Hempel Foundation decided to support the construction of eight satellite schools in the Saboda district in the north of the country, as one of the areas where a very high proportion of children do not attend school. The schools are being established in the children's local villages. Each satellite school teaches children from year 1 to year 4.

The project is being carried out with the Danish non-profit organisation IBIS.

But having a school to attend is just the first step - it is also important to ensure the teaching provided is of good quality. Accordingly IBIS takes responsibility for appointing and training the teachers at the satellite schools, to be sure of their ability to provide a good education for the children. The education is provided in the children's mother tongue, since children 'crack the code' of reading much faster in their own language than in English. It is also important that the curriculum presented to the children is based on their own reality and experience and what they already know of the world, and supports their creativity and curiosity. This is achieved by asking the teachers to apply motivational pedagogic methods and to ensure that girls and boys in the class are given equal opportunities to express themselves in the classroom.

The local community is involved in the life of the school via school boards, comprising parents and other members of the community, and parent teacher councils. The school board structure gives the local community a sense of ownership and input. To help boards to operate effectively, board members are trained in how to work constructively with teachers to achieve the optimum situation in the school. The board also plays a vital role in working alongside the teachers to keep the children at school, particularly the girls.

The construction of these eight satellite schools will give approximately 800 children the chance to attend school and get a proper education who would not otherwise have had this opportunity.