Volunteers build a school in Ghana

The Sunrise school in Adawso before work started without walls or floor.

A brand new school for Ghana! How volunteers made a big difference.

Imagine attending a school with no floor and no walls – a building which is just held together with a few wooden planks and a straw roof! When the Ghana volunteer programmecoordinators first visited the little hamlet of Adawso in Volta Lake, Ghana the children attended lessons in little more than an open barn. Their “classrooms” were basically small areas separated by standing blackboards and some students were sitting outside to learn under the shade of a tree. The Original Volunteers coordinating team saw a desperate need to improve the facilities for the children and so began their first project in this deprived lakeside region of Ghana.

Although lessons were taking place and children were attending each day, the facilities available were extremely basic and not adequate for a learning environment. With no separate classrooms, a lot of noise could be heard; there was no running water or sanitation and no books or pens! As the children had no other major town or village nearby to attend a better school, the answer was to improve the building where they already lived.

Adawso, an isolated area in need of a school

Adawso is a fishing and farming village and has only been accessible by road since 2006.  The surrounding area is mountainous and difficult to travel around therefore the village itself is quite isolated. Walking is tough and there are no buses or taxis! A school facility for the local children built within the immediate area would be the best and most suitable solution.

Bricks-for-the-walls-drying.

Volunteers with new mud bricks.

The brand new school provides Primary and Junior High education for students aged 4 to 15. Secondary school teaching takes place mainly in boarding schools which are situated outside of poor villages such as Adawso. Covering Primary and Junior High levels of education in the village offers the children a choice when they’re older to attend a Secondary School and travel outside of the area (if they can afford it).

Direct benefits of the brand new school

  • Increased enrolment in school –once the facilities had been improved and our volunteers started teaching, lots more children signed up to attend! (Part of theMillennium Development Goals is to achieve 100% Primary school enrolment by 2015).
  • Improved learning experience for lots of children in the village – they can achieve the same aims as those who’re taught in cities or more well-off areas
  • Increased literacy levels – with an improved teaching experience, donation of materials and time given by volunteers during a prolonged period of time, the childrens’ language skills have greatly improved. This is vital to ensure that they continue their education in future and their interaction with volunteers benefits both them and their families.
  • Health benefits for the children are greatly improved – the addition of a water harvesting system, tank and filters ensures that they drink clean water and avoid diseases such as Schistosomiasis, diarrhoea and cholera due to bacteria in the water (in Ghana, diarrhoea is still a top five killer disease for children under 5 years of age).
  • Volunteers-lay-the-floor.
  • Volunteers laying the floor in the classrooms.Initial stages

    The initial school building phase started in 2010 and lasted for a year – six classrooms were built with two more added in the following year. A water harvesting and storage system was also set up and this year, a classroom has been closed and replaced with a computer lab.

    Funding – volunteers made it happen!

    All monies to pay for the school came from volunteers contributing towards building projects. Some volunteers fund-raised specifically for the school and more money was made available to pay for the 10,000 litre water tank and computer lab. Approximately £1000 per classroom was raised by the volunteers and local resources were used to provide materials and labour.

  • Half-way-through-the-build.-1024x768
  • Stage one complete!

    Private schools are the poorest in Ghana

    The school is owned by a local man who privately owns the land – he’s also the headmaster! Although there is no government involvement, the “private schools” in Ghana are often the poorest – and therefore very different to private schools in the UK. The local authorities support the education projects but as they’ve no budget for school building, their main function is to support the work of those who can help. Numerous volunteers took part in the Adawso school building project. During the summer, there were several teams of 8 or 9 people but this dwindled to 3 or 4 people at quieter times. Up to 50 people were working on building the school at various times.  The project was very much a group effort and was spread over 2 to 3 years. It would be unfair to single out particular individuals who worked on the project as so many people got stuck in and did their bit (even the headmaster was laying bricks!) The children would often bring water from the lake for making building materials and a college choir from the UK raised money to pay for the water harvesting system.  Someone else kindly donated computers for the new lab; others donated furniture; paid for paint; electricity and helped set up move heavy equipment.

    Since the school is registered, each pupil pays a fee to attend – in the region of £3 per month which also pays for the teachers’ salaries. More work is being done to complete a toilet block and the main compound itself needs to be tidied and the ground levelled for the children to play safely.

    The school’s headmaster said: “…this good work your volunteers have done, especially the building of walls, painting, sports equipment given to us, we cherish so much. The staff and pupils are so very proud of it; books, pencils, teaching materials, given to us has booster the morale of the school children…they are very much helping the school…”

    There are volunteers teaching at the school right now and are there most of the year, except for December and January. It’s good to have as many volunteers as possible as it makes travelling there cheaper! The school also has local teachers, at least one per class where possible but problems arise when there is sickness or the budget can’t afford to pay for more staff.

    Walls-up-and-painted.

    The Sunrise school ready for classes.

    100 children can now attend school!

    There are currently around 15 students per class and eight classrooms  so around 100 children altogether in attendance. As the school is located in the village, the children don’t have to walk too far and it’s a much more desirable place to learn than the nearest alternative!

    Aside from school equipment and learning materials, the children have received items such as football kits, sports equipment and other desirable items that schools in the area usually lack.

    The Adawso community empowered with progress
    The better facilities and the added benefits to the village as a whole are a huge encouragement to the headmaster and his teaching staff. He told us that the building project personally gave him and the school in general a much needed boost and encouragement; especially in such difficult circumstances. The local people face daily hardship and to have a group of people coming over and giving them material and moral support allowed them all to feel better about themselves and push ahead to complete the project. Adawso is a very poor area but the village now feels a sense of empowerment since so many people came to support them in a bid to improve their lives.

    The local team and everyone at Original Volunteers would like to thank everyone who participated from brick making to plastering and painting the walls and the continued support of volunteers who travel every day to teach and help the children.

    If you would like to get involved with building work in Ghana please visit the Ghana programme page of the website. Everyone welcome!

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