19 June 2010 – Scholarship fund

 

 I would like to start a scholarship fund for Ghana High School students. It will be called 1Person. You know those commercials for Christian Children’s Fund where they say for $30 a month you can feed a child. Sounds like a lot of bang for less than you spend at Starbucks each month. Well in Ghana here, the bang is an explosion! With thirty American bucks a year you can send a northern student to Form 2 or 3 (sophomore or junior year) in senior high school. The first and last year of senior high cost about $150 more, but still a reasonable amount to spend for a year of education.

 In the beginning scholarships will be for school fees, the kit for Form 1 students and the fee for the comprehensive exam. If funds allow text books and school supplies could be bought for each student as well.  At Sandema Senior High Technical School the annual fee is 40 Ghana Cedis. The first year registration fee is around 60 Ghana Cedis. The Kit can cost any where from 100 Ghana Cedis to 150 Ghana Cedis. The kit is made up of a wooden box, the students call a chop box, 6 uniforms, sports clothing, footwear and personal care items.

 Junior and Senior High students take an exam which decides what Government Senior Highs or Universities will consider them as students. If there scores are not good enough for a  government school they can go to private schools for a much higher fee and often a lesser quality education.  The JHS Basic Education Certificate Exam (BECE) takes place in Mid-April. Students go to a testing center and spend a week taking subject area exams. They then go to the house (are finished with JS studies) and  wait until September or later to receive their results. Because of this, Form 1 students usually don’t come to school until the middle of the first term of their freshman year.

Photo by Mel Steward

 Senior High students take the West African Comprehensive Certificate Exam (WACCE). They spend the second term (January through April) of their final year, preparing for the exam. The High School will end formal classes to let students study. The schools will also give a mock WACCE and grade it during that term. Starting in April  and continuing to the end of May students take the exams.  They may have one or two a week, the rest of the time is spent studying. Most students take the exam at the school they attend but GES will send the students from smaller schools to a nearby larger school. Students then go to the house and wait for the results. These do not come until November or December thus causing the student to wait more than a year before they can attend University.

 These exams decide what school the students will go to.  As with the SAT if you results are  good you will get into a better school. Unlike the US, the grades from JS or HS are barely considered. This is why I think it’s important to pay for them to take the exams. If they can’t take the exam they can’t continue their education.

  The 2010/2011 school year, I will give some scholarships. I have some seed money from a generous donor who has agreed to let me choose some students to assist. I will pick 4-8 students from Form 2 and Form 3 who have shown promise in my classes. I will pay 2010/2011 school fees for them. The 2011/2012 school year, I will use the money raised to fund as many students as possible, including the two Junior High students.

 The scholarships will be given northern students who are attending or entering Senior High School. Initially I will ask students from Sandema Senior High and Sandema town to apply. These are the students I know.

 The three northern regions are the poorest regions in Ghana. Many people in the villages are so cash poor its a struggle to come up with the Cedis to pay fees and other related expenses. In the villages, too, the parents must make the difficult decision to loose the labor of the student at planting and harvesting time. The middle class here is struggling to make ends meet just like the middle class in America. By helping students with their school fees we are also helping a whole family. 

 It is expensive to be a student. The government is supposed to issue textbooks but they often come to few and too late. The students with money buy textbooks but others are left with the notes they take in class and the limited resources of the library.  In Junior High students pay a photocopying fee for each exam they take. Students also want money for the supplies in their chop box. The food at the schools is as good or bad as any institutional food but there is not much of it so students bring some of their own food, rice, gari, yazzi etc. Students who don’t live in Sandema must have money to travel home during breaks and to call home during the school term.

 There will be a strong emphasis on sending girls to school but scholarships will not be limited to girls alone.  Students with a good academic record will be considered but their desire to learn and other achievements outside the classroom will be factored in.  This first year they will be students I know from my classes here at Sandema Senior High Technical School. 

 When I visit America this August I will talk with a financial planner to help me set up a foundation and manage the money. From my blog people will be able to donate via PayPal or get an address to  mail in donations. Eventually, I hope to have a small board of like minded people to assist me on the American side and help with scholarship decisions.

 I don’t know about setting up a Ghana foundation and if or how I might solicit funds from Ghanaians as well. Suggestions are welcome on this and really any point of this plan. I am swimming in new waters here and would love suggestions from any of you who are reading this.

 Students will fill out an application form and be interviewed.  People can donate to a particular student or to the general fund. While guarding their privacy, I will post information about students on my blog. If a person decides to donate to a particular student I will sendan email with specifics about the students and updates on the student’s progress.

 The student will be given a bank draft made out to the school. She will be required to show a receipt and write a thank you letter. I am considering asking them to pledge to help one student when they have finished schooling and have established themselves. I have no idea how to monitor this or if I want to, but I want to put the idea of paying it forward into their heads.

I am also considering a Ghana end to this but not sure how or if I want to do that.

 Dear readers if you have any suggestions or if you see that I have missed something please feel free to comment.

 Wish me luck and pray for me.

 -vc

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4 Comments

  1. grace adjei said,

    April 22, 2011 at 11:44 am

    i wont free scholarship to shs

    • Vicky said,

      April 29, 2011 at 8:58 am

      The scholarships are finished. So sorry.

  2. grace adjei said,

    April 22, 2011 at 11:45 am

    i wont free scholarship to senior secondary school

  3. grace adjei said,

    April 22, 2011 at 11:47 am

    i want free scholarship to the senior secondary school so kindly assist me


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