Some of the potential donors for the School in Ghana project have been asking some interesting questions. We decided to put them all together, and do a small interview to Hayford Siaw, the director on our partner NGO in Ghana, Volunteer Partnerships for West Africa.
1. You want to build a private school, does that mean that the family of the kids have to pay for their kids’ education?
Answer: Yes, the school will be private but non for profit. What it means is that, all revenue generated from running the school, will be reinvested in the school. Children will be connected with our ”child sponsorship” program to allow for external support to vulnerable children within the villages. We want to create harmony among all children and will offer opportunity to parents who cannot afford the fees to apply for scholarship. Parents who can afford will pay fees.
2. Who is going to pay the teachers?
Answer: Teachers will be paid from internally generated funds. We want the school to be sustainable and not always be dependent on external funds. Key to sustaining this is to admit students whose parents can afford the fees to be part of the academic community of our institution. For us to attract quality teachers, we must pay a decent salary, this we intend to achieve and be the school of choice for teachers.
3. Which is the selection criteria to choose the kids who are going get education in the school?
Answer: The school will have an open admission policy. We understand that several children have to commute several kilometers to the nearby big town to access quality education. On commissioning of the school, it is most likely we will have an increase knock on our doors for admission. Priority will be given to needy but brilliant children and as much as we can raise external scholarship to fund their tuition, many of such children will have the benefit of superior education environment. We will admit children on first come first serve basis, and as space may allow.
4. There is already a public school in the village, wouldn’t it be better to invest in it and increase the quality of education there rather than building a new one?
Answer: Indeed, public school exist in the village but it is unable to absorb all the children. There are other tiny villages surrounding the location and children from all these neighboring communities looks upto the only public school for education. Our school is not to compete with the existing school but to complement the work of providing education to the many children. Existing public school have some of its classroom accommodating more than 70 children. This definitely does not augur well for quality education. We will partner with other local schools to share resources and improve on education in the entire village and its environs. Because they are public schools, it is difficult for private organizations like ours to have direct influence in areas of teacher performance measurement and supervision. This is what makes the private schools better off than public schools.
5. How many hours will the kids be at school? Will they get food? Who’s going to pay for that?
Answer: Upon setup of school, crucial decisions like provision of balance diet food will be determined by the Parent Teacher Association (PTA). These are decisions to be taken from bottom up and not the other way around. As an organisation, we will like to incorporate a feeding component within the fee structure. Since most fees will be paid through child sponsorship program that link individual needy children to sponsors, we are hoping to offset such cost.
6. The school is for 500 kids, are there so many kids around that could reach the school?
Answer: There are several communities around the location of the school. Children around these areas and Damang itself commute several kilometers to access quality education in the next big town Nsawam (7km) away sometime on foot. With the establishment of the school, we are hoping to create an opportunity for all to access quality education within their environs. Also because of limited infrastructure within the only public school, most people have to also send their children in far away schools.
7. The chiefs said they want a secondary school in Darmang, which are the advantages that they see by having a secondary school? Which are the advantages for the community by getting this school done?
Answer: There are no secondary school around Damang and its environs. A secondary school does not only provide ready entry for junior high school graduates but it will also open the village for other interest and development. Secondary schools attracts people from all parts of the country and opens up a community to new businesses.
8. Is the community going to get involved in helping with the project in any way? Do they know about it? Are they happy about the idea?
Answer: The community is looking forward to the project and are looking forward to participate and give their blessing to it. As far as my experience in development work is concerned, until funds are raised with timelines for project completion available, i do not want to go about the community promising and putting them in expectancy when i do not have the resources yet to make it happen.