It takes a village to raise a child… and a child’s school. While education initiatives in the Bonsaaso village cluster in Ghana, are largely led by Millennium Villages Project, several communities are offering their own ways of local support.
The most common contribution by the communities is school building construction: classrooms, teachers’ cottages, administrative offices and kitchens. Parent-teacher associations raised funds by collecting dues at community meetings, accepting donations, or charging fees from gold mining companies operating in the area. Though some communities did not complete their projects before funds ran out, others were able to prioritize and lead school building construction. The MVP continues to work closely with the communities to find solutions and funding for incomplete construction projects.
In one community, a two-room kindergarten was built to accommodate students and teachers who had previously walked on hazardous roads to attend their classes in another community. In another, MVP offered in-kind assistance to finish the floors and roof of a slowly-progressing classroom expansion project.
Farms and gardens are another source of income for Bonsaaso’s schools. Parents, community members and students donate time to maintaining small-scale plots on school properties. Cash crops like cocoa are sold to bring income for classroom equipment, while plantains and other staples supplement feeding programs at the schools.
Overall, communities have made efforts to organize themselves around their schools, whether through helping harvest school farms and cooking student meals with feeding program committees, or by raising funds slowly but surely for structures in which their children can further their primary education.
Consistent engagement with MVP’s schools is often challenging to keep up in low-income communities, given the opportunity for economic involvement in mining and farming. But these small successes showed off the possibility of organized local participation in education.
Sarayu Adeni is a Master of Public Administration in Development Practice student at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs. In 2014, she spent the summer working with the education sector of Millennium Villages Project in Bonsaaso Cluster, Ashanti Region, Ghana.