One of the key areas of ActionAid’s work is to advocate for increased civic participation and state accountability for the redistribution of resources, and the delivery of quality, gender-responsive public services, including access to quality basic education.
ActionAid Ghana’s advocacy on access to quality girl-friendly public basic education has received another boost as a two-unit kindergarten block as well as a Junior High School block with ancillary facilities have recently been completed. The facilities were commissioned and handed over to the District Education Directorate of the Ghana Education Service and Traditional Authorities at Amanfrom and Ata-Ne-Ata in the Ahafo Region.
The two-unit kindergarten and Junior High School facilities – which are fully furnished with book storage cubicles, chairs, a mechanised borehole, a water tank, play equipment, places of convenience, and a changing room – were constructed at a total cost of GH¢385,875.90 and GH¢435,454.48 respectively.
The model facilities are provided to draw stakeholders’ attention to the urgent need to prioritise the provision of kindergarten infrastructure in our educational development. It also seeks to improve learning outcomes in public education, especially at the basic level, and present a model to inform how kindergarten education facilities should be conceived and implemented.
Speaking at the handing over ceremony at Amanfrom on Thursday, the Country Director of ActionAid Ghana, John Nkaw, bemoaned the frequent and increasing cuts in budgetary allocation to the education sector. He said: “Budget for kindergarten activities set out in the Ministry of Education’s Medium- Term Expenditure Framework for 2021-2025 reduced from GH¢817.8million in 2020 to GH¢43.6million in 2021”.
He added: “If these budget cuts are not reversed, it will significantly reduce early school readiness, and exacerbate existing inequities within the educational system”.
In his remarks, the Board Chair of ActionAid Ghana, Nana Yaw Okyere-Aduachie, noted that discrimination is already taking place in different forms within Ghana’s educational system as good quality private schools charge exorbitant fees, thereby making them accessible to the wards of the relatively few middle to high-income earning populace.
He further asserted: “To promote equity and fairness across all sectors of society, the educational system must ensure that there is reduction of inequality. We cannot continue to fail these young ones who look up to all of us for a better and just society”.
The District Chief Executive, Robert Dwomor Mensah, reiterated that development is a collective responsibility of all; therefore, ActionAid deserves commendation for its continuous support to communities in the Bono, Bono East and Ahafo Regions.
“Our district is fortunate to receive two additional school facilities from ActionAid at the same time. They have exhibited their commitment to development in this area, and we must support this initiative by ensuring the proper maintenance of the facility,” he added.
Existing structures in the communities
Ata-Ne-Ata and Amanfrom communities are about 30 kilometres apart. People in these communities are predominantly farmers. For many years, pupils and students of Amanfrom and Ata-Ne-Ata have struggled with dilapidated school structures. This has negatively impacted teaching and learning. According to students and teachers who were engaged, they are compelled to end teaching and learning anytime it starts raining as the existing structure in Amanfrom had some parts of the roof ripped off by a storm. At Ata-Ne Ata Junior High School, teaching and learning was previously taking place in a wooden shed. Students and teachers sometimes fight with snakes for space.
Pointing to a shed, the Headteacher of Ata-Ne-Ata Junior High School, Mr. Obed Amoah-Awuah, noted that despite the harsh conditions under which teaching and learning take place, the eight teachers in the school have proven to be committed to their profession.
According to him, the changing room, which has been added to the new facility will go a long way to improve education in the community, stressing that many girls stay away from school due to lack of privacy during their menstrual cycle. The school currently has a population of fifty-two, with twenty-eight females and twenty-four males.
ActionAid’s impact in the three regions
Since 2001, ActionAid has worked closely with communities in the Bono, Bono East and Ahafo regions to roll out impactful interventions. Key among these are the provision of ten Kindergarten facilities with recreational amenities in Asutifi North and Asutifi South Districts as a way of promoting safe and effective teaching and learning environment, and sustaining children’s interest in school. Other school structures that have been put up include teachers’ bungalows as well as six (6) different three-unit classroom blocks in communities such as Amomaso, Kojokrom, Kenyasi 3 and many others.
ActionAid has also been working with Parent Teacher Associations (PTAs) in the communities to promote effective community participation in school governance through trainings and review meetings. Currently, these PTAs are playing their roles as rights holders seeking and demanding quality education for their children.
In a related intervention, 20 teenage mothers have also been supported in collaboration with the Ghana Education Service to return to school after childbirth through the ‘re-entry policy’.
Livelihood skills training
In 2020, ActionAid collaborated with Yamfo Vocational Training Institute, an NVTI accredited institution and certified master crafts women and men to train 131 young people, comprising 98 females and 33 males, in various livelihood skills development modules including auto-mechanic, baking, bead and soap making, and tiling.
Following the award of certification by the National Vocational Technical Institute, beneficiaries were supported with basic tools and start-up materials. Beside these skills training, beneficiaries received capacity-building in advocacy and campaigning, financial literacy, business plan development process, social media marketing, and operationalisation of Village Savings and Loans Associations.
ActionAid’s presence in Amanfrom and Ata-ne- Ata
ActionAid’s work in Amanfrom and Ata-ne-Ata communities began in 2003 among the 25 partner communities in the Local Rights Programme seven (7) in Asutifi. Amanfrom is part of ActionAid’s Child Sponsorship Scheme, which is one of the key fundraising strategies for funding various human right-based interventions. Over the years, the community has been part of projects and key interventions, including sustainable livelihood interventions such as livestock rearing for women, capacity trainings on advocacy and campaigns, leadership skills, climate resilient agriculture activities, career fairs for school children, girls’ camps and many others.
ActionAid is a global federation working with more than 15 million people living in more than 40 of the world’s poorest countries. We want to see a just, fair and sustainable world in which everybody enjoys the right to a life of dignity, and freedom from poverty and oppression. We work to achieve social justice and gender equality, and to eradicate poverty.
>>>the writer is a Communications Specialist