THE REPORT ON DISBURSEMENT TO ROUTES FEES SPONSORED STUDENTS 2014/15 ACADEMIC YEAR
The Ebola Scare
The opening of the 2014/15 academic year was fraught with problems. The reopening date kept shifting backwards because of the Ebola scare: Ebola was raging in the West African sub region, precisely the same area that is covered by the economic grouping called ECOWAS, I.E., Economic Community of West States. The Ghanaian president is currently the president of the rotating presidency of ECOWAS.
In the months of February and ,over 2,000 cases were reported in Liberia, 1500 in Sierra Leon, and 9 cases in neighboring Nigeria and some cases in Senegal. Currently Ebola has assumed pandemic proportions, reported cases topping the 10,000 mark, half these resulted in death.
Ghana also directly experienced the Ebola scare; over a period of two months a total of 74 suspected cases were reported mainly in the southern part of the country; thankfully and mercifully the tests turned negative. The government had to put in panic screening measures for all educational institutions to prepare for students returning to begin the academic year. This was necessary because Ghana is situated in an active social interaction matrix with these countries; there is active economic interaction between Ghana and Nigeria and Liberia. There is a large remnant of Liberian refugee population in Ghana as well as Nigerian citizens who are resident and move back and forth for trade.
Schools eventually reopened in the third week of September as the date for reopening was announced. Students reported without the necessary fees because they were ordered to return to school immediately. After a week in school, headmasters/headmistresses sent students back home for fees as there was no money to cater for feeding of boarding school students. This in way helped reduce difficulties of disbursing funds, we went from community to community to disburse rather the more cumber some method of moving from school to disburse.
In all thirty three students received $7,500.00 if fees sponsorship. $6,000.00 paid fees for thirty, (30) in Senior High School. Six of this number is in their third and final year. Twenty-four, (24) are in their second year. Three of the number, Linda Wugaa, Lawrence Nchor, and Emmanuel Nabonagea, received $1,500 as fees for the University college of Education. Linda was sponsored last year. She is the first from our first to gain admission to the tertiary level.
The misalignment between the university admission calendar and release of Senior High Final examination results made it impossible for even those students who qualified on the basis of the school results to be selected. They were compelled to wait one whole year at home. This explains why Lawrence Nchor and Emmanuel, also in the first batch of ROUTES sponsored students, could not gain admission at the same time with Linda. Another student, Joana Awula brought up her admission letter rather late and could not be sponsored this, there being two scholarships annually under their category, kind courtesy of the Bierbriers, Len and Chris Bierbrier. She would be automatically catered for in the 2015/2016 academic year, leaving one scholarship for university level admission.
The sponsorship scheme is in the fifth year now, it started after April 2009. It has impacted the lives of at least 60 families and provided much valued opportunity for sixty, (60), students to access secondary school education. This figure could be calculated in either number of days, months or years of school attendance for the sixty students. The majority of beneficiaries come from really poor families; I mean families earning less than US$1.0/ a day. Others come from single headed families, one or other spouse lost to death.
The benefits of the sponsored students could easily be attested to from the several text messages our student send to Donald; the sustained contact and interaction with Donald; some parents actually make effort to come and express their appreciation through Donald.
This brief report is not about saying that ROUTES sponsorship has contributed to solving all the problems of enabling rural youth in the POSCOM AREA to access secondary education; the problems in the area are too complex, a selection process remains just so and many other deserving youth will fall by the wayside. What report says is that the well targeted effort of ordinary people can contribute to pointing out solutions based on the donations and sacrifices of ordinary people.
This is mainly in the area of fundraising; it requires more shoulders to shoulder the effort. Then those who donate so generously out of their limited resources need to come down to the local level in Ghana to see how their donations turn lives round and give hope to upcoming young people in their future
I am always indebted to the courage of my US family, the Bierbriers, Shady HILL School, and friends who dared in spite of the odds to translate what was some idea into action and results