Story from Isaac Akwetey-Okunor, Nkurankan
Pencil of Promise, a Ho-based non-governmental organisation (NGO), is resolved to reconstructing the aged and collapsed school pavilion of Nkurakan Presby Basic School, following a rainstorm which occurred a year ago.
Education, they say, is a right. It is, therefore, the dream of every parent to have their ward(s) enrolled in the best schools, with all the basic amenities. This, however, does not always turn out to be the case in most countries in Africa, including Ghana.
Some pupils in Ghana study in structures which can best be described as death traps, and have proven to be very uninhabitable in all weather conditions.
It is common to see schools operating under trees, dilapidated mud structures and under palm fronds for shade. The situation does little to save the pupils from the bites and stings of snakes and reptiles, which disrupts learning activities.
According to the Headmaster of the school, Mr. Ebenezer Tetteh, they were battling with space for the children and teachers, following the collapse of the pavilion a year ago, forcing the authorities to adopt a shift system, as part of measures to mitigate the situation, in another old structure due to the increased population of the school.
It be recalled that the Eastern File, a page dedicated for rural and development stories in your authoritative The Chronicle in May 31, this year, which carried a story under the headline “Nkurakan Presby Primary Pupils Appeal for Support.”
The paper reported that the pupils of the Nkurakan Presbyterian Primary and Junior High School (JHS) in the Yilo Krobo Municipality were appealing to the Ghana Education Service (GES) and Yilo Krobo Municipal Assembly for a befitting school building to facilitate effective and efficient teaching and learning in the area.
The Chairman of the Parent Teachers Association (PTA), Mr. Samuel Teye Wayoe, said due to the infrastructural deficit, the Association was helping to construct a new building through a levy of GH¢20 imposed on each student per a term.
He claimed the PTA and school authorities had written numerous letters to the Ghana Education Service and Yilo Krobo Municipal Assembly Chief Executive, Ebenezer Tetteh Kupualor, for support, but all efforts had been unsuccessful.
The school authorities then appealed to the government and old students of the school to come to the aid of their alma mater to help build a new classroom for the students.
This, Pencil of Promise decided go to the rescue of the children and their teachers by undertaking the reconstruction of a six-unit classroom block with stores, and offices among others.
The districts and the beneficiary communities would provide 20 percent of construction through the provision of land, sand, chippings and labour, whilst 80 percent is borne by the NGO, through support from donors.
Apart from the reconstruction of the school building, the NGO would further provide furniture and construct a Kumasi Ventilated Improved Pit (KVIP), all geared towards providing infrastructure for effective teaching and learning.
Throwing light on why his outfit chose Nkurankan Presby Primary School, the Project Manager of the NGO, Mr. Anthony Quarsigah, said his office believed that every child should have access to quality education.
This, according to him, is done through the building of school programmes and global communities around the common goal of education for all, where 100% of online donations go to Pencils of Promise programmes.
The Pencils of Promise is guided by our revolutionary ‘for-purpose’ approaches, blending the head of a for-profit business with the heart of a humanitarian non-profit, “we rigorously measure the return on investment of every donor dollar we spend.”
The Project Manager hinted that Pencils of Promise, which started its operations in Ghana some five years ago, mainly in the Volta and Eastern regions, has made giant strides in improving the quality of education in its operational areas.
Headed by Freeman Gobah, Country Director, Pencils of Promise has touched the lives of pupils and teachers by continuously removing schools under trees, and equipping teachers with the necessary skills to help improve teaching and learning in schools.
He added that, at least, about 20 districts in the Volta Region have benefited from their projects, with an additional three districts in the Eastern Region also benefiting, running into over 97 schools so far rescued from imminent collapse.
Districts, including Ho, Ho West, Agotime Ziope, Afadzato South, Central Tongu, South Tongu, Akatsi North, Jasikan, Nkwanta North, Kpando, Akatsi South, Hohoe, Ketu North, Ketu South, and Keta among others, have benefited massively from the benevolence of the NGO.
In the Eastern Region, the areas of Tortibu in Asougyaman, Oborpah Djerkiti in Lower Manya Krobo and Nkurankan in Yilo Krobo municipality have all benefited.
He stressed that education was the surest way to defeat poverty, ignorance and inequality, hence the resolve of other districts in the regions partnering the NGO to fight poverty andrelated issues.
To him, teachers and their pupils are being supported with teaching and learning materials such as e-readers, tablets, posters, wall hangings and paintings, literacy kits and books. Over 150 teachers in the region have benefited from teacher-support programmes.
To ensure a holistic education, Pencils of Promise also introduced its water, sanitation and hygiene module, where the schools are provided sanitary facilities, polytanks, water filters, and buckets, and the pupils groomed to adopt healthy lifestyles.
Indeed, the story of Pencils of Promise doesn’t only give hope to these children, but also empowers them to reach beyond their immediate environments to fight the war against poverty and ignorance.
The Headmaster, Mr. Ebenezer Tetteh who could not hide is joy over the intervention, expressed his profound gratitude for the gesture shown by the NGO, and assured it that upon completion of the building, effective teaching and learning would be restored.
The Presiding Pastor of the Nkurakan Presbyterian Church Rev, I. S. Kwao, demonstrated the commitment and readiness of the church to cooperate with the NGO to ensure the completion of the school structure.
The Municipal Chief Executive (MCE) for the Yilo Krobo Assembly, Ebenezer Tetteh Kubualor, in an interview, encouraged the community members to liaise with the NGO to complete the construction work within the stipulated time.
He revealed that the GH¢20 levy which the school was collecting to rebuild the structure had been cancelled by the Assembly.
The contractor, on his part, stated that barring any unforeseen circumstances, the reconstruction work would be completed in six months.
On her part, the Nkurakan Assembly Member, Evelyn Terko Aseni, happily stated that the reconstruction would go a long way to reduce truancy among the children.