We’re excited to tell you that we’ve recently found a new way to help strengthen and sustain ourselves as an organisation that is aimed at equalising the life opportunities of young children in Ghana. We’ve established a School Development Centre which will institutionalise our transformational teacher training programmes that we deliver to public and private schools across Ghana and will provide ongoing support to schools (primarily low-fee private ones) in and around the Western region of Ghana. So, what is the reason for the establishment of this School Development Centre?
As an emerging NGO, we believe strongly that we need to invest not only in the sustainability of our existing initiatives but also in the existence of our organisation because it is only when it continues to exist that our programmes will continue to exist. Research has established that successfully thriving and sustainable NGOs all over the world not only depend on funding from others, but develop their own funding streams through establishing social enterprises to sustain both themselves and their programmes. In establishing our School Development Centre, we have been particularly influenced by the West Africa Civil Society Institute’s (WACSI’s) research into The State of Civil Society Organisations’ Sustainability in Ghana: striving, surviving or thriving? (WACSI, 2015).
More about the School Development Centre
The Foundation First School Development Centre (SDC), located within Foundation First’s premises in the Western region of Ghana, will enhance the professional standards of school teachers and leaders and serve as a centre of excellence supporting school growth and sustainability. In fact, it’s already successfully delivered two blended (both online and in-person) professional development courses for groups of teachers.
The SDC will be serving as a one-stop shop providing both training for school teachers/leaders and a place for making teaching and learning materials. We will be offering a variety of practical, school-based, tailor-made training courses and services, including:
School leadership development
School growth and sustainability
Teacher professional development
Teacher recruitment, training and supply
Teacher-learner resource development and supply
Curriculum design and training
Classroom setup and training
Volunteers for education development
Our SDC training and coaching staff are the same ones who already provide transformative training to the schools we support in marginalised areas of Ghana.
Our vision for expansion
Our ambition is to set up other SDCs, with teacher resource shops attached, across all 16 regions in Ghana.
Reference: WACSI (2015) The State of Civil Society Organisations’ Sustainability in Ghana: Striving, Surviving or Thriving? Accra: Ghana.
On 6th March 1957, Ghana became the first sub-Saharan African country to achieve independence from colonial powers. Ghana’s independence and achievements are celebrated throughout the month of March. Celebrating Ghana’s independence means celebrating the culture, heritage and accomplishments of Ghana and its people. With family and friends on Independence Day, laughter rings out, songs are sung and memories are shared all over Ghana, as people celebrate their history and simultaneously shape the future.
We wanted to join in with the celebrations this year and decided to ask our Foundation First team in Takoradi, Ghana, what Independence Day means to them. We wanted to celebrate what independence has done for education and for the future generations of Ghana.
“The independence of Ghana is meaningless unless it is linked up to the total liberation of Africa.”
Dr Kwame Nkrumah, first president of Ghana
Godwin Agbavor – CEO & Foundation First Founder
I grew up as a proud citizen of Ghana, eagerly learning about the history of our independence. To this day, I find myself pondering over one of the most inspirational speeches in African and world history: “The independence of Ghana is meaningless unless it is linked up to the total liberation of Africa.” Spoken by Dr Kwame Nkrumah, the first president of Ghana, this statement still holds true today.
To me, President Kwame Nkrumah’s words also encapsulate the significance of independence for the Ghanaian people, which is to be able to successfully manage the affairs of the nation. To transform the nation, I believe a change of mindset is required; all human development begins in the mind, the foundation of each individual.
For me, the independence of Ghana involves the professionalisation and empowerment of the nation’s teachers, in both public and private schools, because every nation’s development pivots around the standard of its education. Every nation that has quality teachers can provide quality education to the young, helping to facilitate positive change and development.
In the words of the late Nelson Mandela, “Education is the most powerful weapon in the fight against poverty.” To me, the independence of Ghana necessitates a conscious investment in the early years because what happens with young ones lasts a lifetime.
For us at Foundation First, the independence of Ghana reminds us of the blood and toil of our forefathers, with the gold on our flag representing our wealth, and the green representing our passion to maintain and nurture the natural beauty of Ghana’s flora and fauna. But above all, Ghana’s independence means championing the rights of children and putting them first because they are the future leaders of the nation.
Esther Akpene Sallah – National Service Personnel
Ghana’s Independence Day helps keep the nation’s memories alive in the minds of children and helps them value the future, freedom and peace. Independence Day shares the message of living in unity with community, society, family and friends.
For children, the cultural aspect of the nation is celebrated through activities and programmes in schools. Patriotic songs, which are known to many children, are heard over the radio and on television and are played frequently during this period.
For teachers, Ghana’s Independence Day celebrations are a time to introduce young learners to, or remind them about, Ghana’s history through storytelling and cultural activities, as well as sharing patriotic songs.
It also provides an opportunity for teachers to continue developing their own knowledge about the significance and importance of Ghana’s independence.
Rutherford Mottey – Photographer and Videographer
For many early childhood educators, Independence Day signifies a day of patriotism because, on this day, we can help to educate young learners about the importance of Ghana’s history and the significance of its future.
When young learners are educated about their culture and environment, they are encouraged to respect and care for the world around them.
Independence Day offers the opportunity to encourage young learners to think about their part in nation-building, as we are all vital to the building of a nation. It also offers an opportunity to tell the history of the struggle for independence and how it became a possibility. Our independence means freedom for learners to express themselves and to use that freedom to improve, learn and experience everyday living.
Emmanuel Brou – MEL Manager
The significance of Ghana’s independence to me is how this momentous event helps us to empower our young learners and
transform their mindsets, by sharing with them stories of the positive impact and sacrifices of our freedom fighters.
Bringing determination and positivity to educators and young learners, Independence Day exhibits the power of nationalism and unity amongst teachers and young learners. It helps teachers to educate young learners about the country’s social, political and economic development in the world and it also encourages them to know more about our rich cultural heritage.
Harriet Delali Deku – Marketing Support Manager
As an early childhood educator, I believe that, after Ghana gained independence, education – especially early childhood education – began to change.
As an early childhood educator, I believe that, after Ghana gained independence, education – especially early childhood education – began to change. The arrival of Europeans in the 15th century brought a lot of change to our education. The traditions and values of the community were taught to children and kept alive through informal education, with the goal of introducing young people into society and keeping the culture alive. In modern-day education, I can now appreciate the importance and benefits of what Ghana’s independence has to offer to young children in terms of maintaining the tradition of cultural preservation.
Sabina Awortwe – Programme and Partnership Manager
Independence involves being able to act or change in a way that fulfils one’s purpose without being constrained by another. Ghana’s independence has given me the freedom and opportunity to champion the importance of early childhood education. Independence also involves the freedom for young Ghanaian children to acquire knowledge and develop confidence, self-esteem, self-discipline and a spirit of patriotism. Independence means helping all young children have a head start in education and bright futures ahead of them.
Ammishadah Elsifie – Programme Support Officer
Early childhood educators are, in a way, the building blocks of learning. They positively contribute to the preservation and development of culture, knowledge, values, attitudes and skills. They help to lay the foundation for education and spark a passion for learning.
Through discovery learning, engagement is encouraged and a love of learning is built. This I believe demonstrates that, without effective early childhood education, children’s futures are at a disadvantage and thus striving for independence would be rendered futile.
As research suggests that early childhood educators can significantly impact the futures of the young children for whom they are responsible, the dreams of our freedom fighters are well cared for in their hands. Independence Day means a lot to early childhood educators because they play a vital role in building up our nation and it is through their vision and leadership that the next generation will thrive.
Eyome Abusah – Programme Support Officer
The significance of Ghana’s independence to me as an early childhood educator is really amazing! Ghana attaining independence has given us the opportunity to expand and diversify our methods and enhance teaching and learning from the preschool level upwards.
Teaching needs to be dynamic; if Ghana were still colonised, we may have been restricted to teaching strategies that would not reflect the educational needs of our children. Independence has given us the opportunity to decide for ourselves, as a nation, which teaching strategies will benefit our children most.
For example, the recent introduction of a standards-based curriculum, which is child- and activity-based, helps Ghanaian children to be critical thinkers and innovative, fitting into society with ease. Similarly, the introduction of teaching standards has given early childhood educators the opportunity to build on their existing expertise, equipping them with the modern skills needed to dynamically impart knowledge to our children.
The sustainable development goals and their impact
Why were the sustainable development goals (SDGs) created?
The SDGs, or Global Goals, were built on the success of the millennium development goals (MDGs) and aim to go further to end all forms of poverty. They are a collection of 17 interlinked goals designed as the blueprint for addressing global challenges (poverty, low-quality education, inequality, etc.) and are a call for action by all countries to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all.
Why are the goals more important now than ever?
We only have nine years left to achieve them – and we have a lot to do in that time. Also, they have become increasingly relevant to all nations in this COVID era, so there is a need to hasten their implementation to build a fairer, healthier, and safer environment for all.
“Sustainable development is the pathway to the future we want for all. It offers a framework to generate economic growth, achieve social justice, exercise environmental stewardship and strengthen governance.’’
BAN KI- MOON
Which goals are Foundation First targeting?
Foundation First is targeting four of them: Goal 1 (No Poverty); Goal 4 (Quality Education); Goal 5 (Gender Equality); and Goal 17 (Partnerships For The Goals).
Foundation First is targeting four of them: Goal 1 (No Poverty); Goal 4 (Quality Education); Goal 5 (Gender Equality); and Goal 17 (Partnerships For The Goals).
GOAL 1: NO POVERTY
The first goal aims to end all forms of poverty and to promote sustainable growth and development among women, men and children. This goal focuses not just on people living in poverty, but also on countries’ social policies and interventions aimed at achieving the goal.
Foundation First is deliberately targeting Goal 1 to reduce poverty in communities, societies and the country as a whole. This is because an educated workforce supports the development of the economy, makes citizens more informed and active in the democratic process, and creates a new generation of teachers, doctors, and leaders. As Nelson Mandela said, the greatest weapon to reduce poverty is quality education.
GOAL 4: QUALITY EDUCATION
Education is key to sustainable development and Goal 4 aims to provide children and young people with quality and easily accessible learning opportunities. One of its targets is to achieve universal literacy and numeracy, which are major components in acquiring knowledge and skills in the learning environment.
Foundation First’s training approach is helping to attain this target by, for example, improving young children’s literacy skills through promoting meaningful story sharing sessions, classroom reading centres, talk walls, provision of print-rich environments, and other language development initiatives. This has helped to elevate children out of learning poverty and has so far improved the literacy skills of approximately 19,800 learners across Ghana.
Similarly, our creative mathematical activities, such as number talk and our learning centres that are set up for counting, classifying and measuring activities, have helped children to become critical thinkers and problem solvers.
Foundation First is helping to achieve and sustain Goal 4 by providing teachers with support and development that complements the government of Ghana’s efforts. We target teachers because having qualified teachers is key to achieving Goal 4. Qualified teachers create effective teaching and learning environments which lead to positive learning outcomes.
Specifically, Foundation First teacher support and development initiatives transform and empower teachers and provide them with the knowledge and skills that enable them to lay a strong and better foundation to prepare children for the future. Foundation First also engages with communities to create awareness of the importance of early childhood education and to encourage them to provide children with support and access to activities that enable them to master key developmental tasks.
‘’Education is a human right with immense power to transform. On its foundation rest the cornerstones of freedom, democracy and sustainable human development.’’
GOAL 5: GENDER EQUALITY
Goal 5 aims to eliminate all forms of discrimination and violence against women in the public and private spheres and to undertake reforms to give women equal rights to economic resources and access to ownership of property. Generally in Ghana preschool teachers, who are mostly women, are not highly regarded and are accorded low status and recognition in society, leading to them feeling inferior and having low self-esteem.
Foundation First’s training approach is reducing/eliminating such discrimination as it professionalizes the women-led preschool sector by raising the status and confidence of preschool educators. The growing expertise of these educators influences society positively and leads to the promotion of girl child education. Our classroom resources and activities create a positive, interactive and stimulating environment that is friendly to both girls and boys and motivates girls to explore the learning environment. We also use female role models to encourage the preschool girl child to remain in school and to aspire to become like one of these role models.
Would you like to learn more about our approach to addressing gender inequality in the classroom? This will be outlined in Blog No.3.
’Achieving gender equality requires the engagement of women and men, girls and boys. It is everyone’s responsibility.’’
BAN KI – MOON
GOAL 17: PARTNERSHIPS FOR THE GOALS
Goal 17 refers to the need for cross-sector and cross-country collaboration in pursuit of all the goals by the year 2030. Goal 17 aims to strengthen the means of implementation of the SDGs and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development. Partnerships for Foundation First are the core/backbone of what we do. We believe that the other goals we are working towards can be achieved and sustained through partnerships. We collaborate and partner with organizations such as Edify and JICA. To find out about our partnership work with these organizations, kindly click here.
’The best partnerships aren’t dependent on a mere common goal but on a shared path of equality, desire, and no small amount of passion.’’
How can these SDGs be achieved?
We need to have an action plan to develop and scale up awareness of the SDGs that will target local government (chiefs, queen mothers, local assembly members), religious leaders, parents, teachers, students, and industry players – and, perhaps most crucially, the media – about the relevance of these SDGs. Only by working together to mobilize and share knowledge, expertise, technology, and financial resources, can we successfully achieve and sustain these goals, particularly in Ghana, by the end of 2030.