Programme Progress June 2010

2010 Programme Update1 (Download Word DOC file)

Whoever touches the life of a child touches the most sensitive point of a whole, which has roots in the most distant past and climbs toward the infinite future. ~ Maria Montessori

The year 2010 is already half gone and PAMBE Ghana is moving forward with its agenda for developing a model of quality education. The 2009/2010 academic year began on September 15, 2009 and will end July 29th. It is a delight to observe the changes in the children, their curiosity and interest in life around them and their smiling faces.

Lydia Alhassan is a kindergarten year student. She is one of the best examples of what PAMBE Ghana’s education program is about. Lydia from Bantambaari, was probably the saddest looking face of the 40 students who started school with us in the fall of 2008. She cried most with the least provocation and constantly sought teacher’s attention. Now she is exuberant, independent-minded and enjoys working alone or with friends.  She is pleasant to be with and her peers as well as the younger ones love to play with her. Not only has Lydia and other students made remarkable advances emotionally and socially, they have also made tremendous progress academically. That is what we are striving for at these early years of school life; to make school and learning enjoyable.  It is a privilege to be part of the making of these children’s futures. It is gratifying! Nutrition, Health and Sanitation Our children are growing and so are their daily nutritional requirements and appetites. We continue to serve a relatively nutritious lunch each day, which includes some dried fish, peanut or beans mixed with a cereal or root crop and a fruit when in season.  We enjoy watermelon between Nov and Feb and mangoes between March and May. May –June is the sheanut (wild fruit) season. Lunch costs about $1.00 per child/day for our current 60 children. Parents contribute food grains i.e. corn, millet, beans, peanut and soyabeans, as well as community volunteer cooks while PAMBE Ghana provides all ingredients for the sauce and other food stuffs like yam, rice and gari (roasted cassava grits), and fruit when in season. Thus, PAMBE Ghana contributes 60% to the lunch. We are developing good relationships with the district health directorate and public health personnel in the district to provide regular check ups and prompt treatment of worm and other infestations. Washing hands with soap after visiting the toilet and before eating are now established practices.  Disinfectants and soap for hand-washing, dish washing and general cleaning are important consumables that add up to approximately $1.00 /month/child.  Although a luxury in the local context, we consider hygiene and sanitation as an integral part of quality education. Mampruli language (L1) and literacy development. PAMBE Ghana is forging ahead with Mampruli language and literacy development. Our deep appreciation goes to the Bricktown Rotary Club for providing funding for developing and publishing four beginning readers in the Mampruli language. This project has offered PAMBE Ghana staff, especially the Executive Director and Assistant opportunity to learn, adapt and create materials in Mampruli. In close collaboration with two GILLBT resource persons (Ghana Institute of Linguistics, Literacy and Bible Translations) offices in Walewale and Tamale we have blended the ED’s Montessori experience, EA’s public schools teaching experience (GES)  and resources persons’ Mampruli language and literacy expertise to custom-make basic readers for kindergarten and lower primary students. The first set of booklet 1 & 2 have been type-set, edited and ready for publishing. Booklets 3-6 are being edited now.  We expect to finalise these too for printing by the end of the month. We will produce 100 copies each of this first set of beginning readers. Teacher Education and Professional Devt The ED and EA held a 10-day in-service training for the teachers in Langbinsi. We focused attention on Montessori and Piaget’s education theories and their application in our classroom.  Much time was devoted on discussing concrete situations the teachers have encountered in the classroom. The Executive Assistant helped teachers understand how continuous assessment and cumulative records are compiled at the public school system. Teachers then spent two days in the communities and collected basic information about all the children and their families. The teachers are very keen to acquire basic computer skills. Thus, the EA introduced them to computer basics. They were thrilled to be able to create their own email addresses. Now they need the equipment (computers) so they can practice, practice and practice. We continue to provide mentoring and support in class and after classes. The ED contacted a Montessori Teacher training centre in Accra (Little Explorers) that offers courses. However, apart from the high cost of $1500 fees per person, the course is given once or twice a week over a period of time. Thus one has to be resident in Accra. We do the best we can to continue to learn and apply Montessori in and outside the classroom. Performance appraisal The ED had individual and group discussions with the PAMBE Ghana staff. Two of the teachers started last September and a 3rd in Dec to replace the late Issah.  All were confirmed in their teaching positions. The end of Mary’s two-year contract was drawing near and the EA was has just celebrated his first anniversary with PAMBE Ghana. These offered an opportunity to discuss staff members’ self assessment of their performance and professional development needs. Mary has just signed another two-year contract to work with PAMBE Ghana. Infrastructure We started the school year with 20 new students, with no space to accommodate them. We tried different options, including running shift but parents opposed it and teachers were not keen either. We put the 20 pre-k and 40 kindergarten children together in the one classroom but it was too congested. The option that held until now required rearranging existing space in a way that our little ones have a place of their own. Thus, •    the little office, already cramped with large containers for water and utensils, served as a store for foodstuffs for the school feeding program as well; •    materials and furniture were moved to a corner of the one (kindergarten) classroom We put a few shelves in the original storeroom and turned it into a classroom. With the pavilion as backup, we have been able to offer our new little friends reasonable accommodation. PAMBE Ghana-funded classroom is at roofing level. The Milburn’s challenge grant of $3,000.00 helped mobilise another $5,000 to cover the total cost of $8,000, including security doors and windows. The big news is that the East Mamprusi District Assembly is providing a 3-classroom block and office/store as well as toilet and urinary facilities. The building has begun and is also at the roofing level. We expect most of the new infrastructure to be completed by September. Thus, we will be floating in space when the new school year begins, inch’Alla! Water is Life Another critical project underway is rain water harvesting and storage system. Two huge underground concrete tanks (5m diameter) are being constructed by a local rural water supply organisation at a total cost of $6000. We expect the concrete tanks, with all the pipes, filters and hand pumps will be installed and operational by mid-July. This will allow enough time to harvest and store sufficient water during this rainy season, which should last till October. Most of the funding for this water project has come from proceeds from the Global Market.  Let us put our hands together and give a huge “Global” applause for all who have volunteered their time, talents and lots of energy to make the Global Market a successful fund raising venture. Your efforts have made it possible to undertake this very important project. The benefits of having water at the school are incalculable and go far beyond the school. Good hygiene and sanitation practices and, indeed the health and wellbeing of the children at school depend critically on availability of water. It is also important to note the positive impact this water project will have on mothers whose responsibility it has been to provide all the water every day over the past two years. Thank you! Solar Energy We are poised to be among the first beneficiaries of the Ghana Govt / World Bank solar energy project which targets rural communities and schools whose chances for getting onto the national electricity grid are slim. Given the high cost of solar energy, the govt is providing 60% subsidy for different solar energy products and a loan facility through the bank to legible communities as well.  The East Mamprusi Community Bank is the implementing agency in our district, with which we have an excellent working relationship. We are therefore confident that application from La’angum and its community would be considered with favour when the project takes off. If it comes to pass, our first priority would be to acquire solar panels to provide sufficient energy to pump our rain-harvested water from the underground tank as well as lights and two computers.  We could even have fans in the classroom, a big huge luxury. It is a govt project and it takes time for the bureaucracy to move. So we do not know when it will actually become operational. Friend and Fundraising We continue to seek and make new friends as we strengthen relationships with the old over the past six months. In our search here and there for a solution to the perennial water problem we made contact with Rotary Club of Tamale Ghana, WellDone / Pioneers Africa and Pumping is Life. Many volunteers and supporters have worked extremely hard to generate an encouraging balance sheet from our different fund raising initiatives. Developing a model of quality education accessible to underserved rural communities in Northern Ghana is a challenging undertaking. It requires a robust commitment and continued support in order to showcase a model worth emulating. Furthermore, as an education facility, growth and expansion is inherent in the PAMBE Ghana’s programme, and so do its needs and requirements. That is why, even as I express my deepest gratitude for your support this far, I am also asking you to pledge your continued commitment and support, and to embrace PAMBE Ghana’s programme even more firmly. Thank you very much.  Ti puusiya pam Executive Director Alice Azumi Iddi-Gubbels

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