Summer has arrived and we hope you have enjoyed and taken advantage of some of the recommendations we shared with you in our latest newsletter.
Even though it is rainy season in Ghana, and things have been a bit slow due to this, the construction process is doing well, and the school is coming about faster than ever.
This newsletter is taking you on a comprehensive overview: from the general progress and prospects of the construction in Ghana,to the aspects of building with wood as a sustainable material, and to the work and life of the founder and director of the River of Blessing Academy, Abba Hughes.
Big parts of the construction of the school in Koforidua, Ghana are designed to include different types of wood. Due to several aspects concerning availability, accessibility, sturdiness, durability and ecological footprint, wood is by far one of the most versatile and sustainable raw materials to use in constructions.
One of the advantages of using wood, when purchased from responsible sources, is its ecological footprint. Through photosynthesis solar energy is absorbed and reacts with carbon dioxide to produce nutrients in the growing trees, which means that the trees contain carbon that has been absorbed in the form of carbon dioxide. Whenever a tree is cut down it releases an amount of the carbon dioxide, whilst at the same time keeping a certain amount of the absorbed gas. This slows down the harmful effects of carbon dioxide. The released gas is then again captured by other growing trees and converted into nutrients and new potential building materials.
Furthermore, the advantages of using wood is a matter of availability and accessibility. Whereas concrete and bricks in most cases are harder to obtain or distribute in the rural areas where WEbuilding works, wood excels in being in close vicinity of the construction sites, which can speed up the construction process and lower other expenses.
Interview with Abba excerpt
As our woman on the ground and in the field, Abba Hughes is no stranger to hard work, schooling or striving for a better future. Being 32 and in her own eyes more of the conservative type, Abba is still an idealist going strong. She grew up in Zambia and Ghana and studied Business Administration at All Nations University College in Koforidua. After taking her master's in Business Administration and doing volunteer work at the same time, she realized that she wanted to pursue something that had, as she put it, “eternal value”, while at the same time being made from scratch.
At 25 she started a preschool, because her two elder sister had both given birth to two “adorable” baby girls and because she in addition to that was very concerned about schooling and helping kids in her neighbourhood, which made her very conscious about fulfilling her Christian duties:
“Also I remembered the joy I had when I, occasionally, as a child, would go into the street and find abandoned kids, bring them into our home, bath and cloth them just as Mama had taught us to do. Helping the poor and the defenceless was always a joy.”
Although she ended up facing many difficulties concerning materials, space, funding, administration etc. Abba wasn’t one to give up.
“As it turns out sometimes you need more than just a dream to sustain a project in our part of the world where credit is so expensive. Also as it turned out, there were a number of our ROBA parents, we call ROBA Mamas & Papas, who couldn't afford to pay our 'low cost fees'. As a matter of fact, for a number of our pupils we still need to go the extra mile to provide them with free food, books, uniforms, transportation, and other essentials.”
Apart from the external difficulties she ended up facing and to be able to pay all expenses she decided to take on more responsibility and even more work:
"I didn't want to do a regular 8-5 job that would take all my time from the kids so I decided to get into academia. To do that I needed a PhD in my field so I enrolled for a weekend program in Accra. Four years later, I'm a few months away from graduation. The school kids and teachers take all your time, it hasn’t been an easy road.”
Abba Hughes. Executive Director at River of Blessing Foundation
The construction process in Koforidua is made in cooperation with the River of Blessing Academy, an organisation that Abba founded. And who better than herself to explain the story of ROBA.
What is the River of Blessing Academy?
"The River of Blessing Academy is a school that believes in the potential of every learner. We seek to identify our pupils’ strengths and weaknesses to be able to direct their passions and dreams. Information about their abilities and talents also enable us to approach their education in a holistic manner."
What are the most important information and facts that you would like to share about the River of Blessing Academy?
"River of Blessing Academy seeks to provide a place and system to give families in Koforidua (a poorly developed semi urban area) with a high quality education with special emphasis on STEAM areas in alignment with jobs of the future.
For this we create extra-curricular activities throughout the year such as the STEM Fair in April, the Arts Exhibition (including visual arts, performing arts, fashion & textile art, creative writing etc) & Sports Day in August and the Christmas concert in December. All the children in these events have the opportunity in shine and have their unique talents and abilities celebrated."
Currently the school runs the preschool and primary departments. Currently, basic education in Ghana ends at Grade nine or third year of Junior High School. So we will continue with our pupils through junior high school and possibly senior high school as well. This will give us more time with our pupils to adequately prepare them for life post pre-tertiary education."
What differentiates ROBA from the average schools in Ghana?
"First of all, we are the first school in Koforidua to introduce the Cambridge curriculum. This we offer alongside the Ghana Education Service (GES) curriculum.
And we are probably the only low cost school in Ghana that offers the Cambridge curriculum. This high quality programme gives in-depth subject knowledge and lots of opportunities for the development of critical 21st century skills that are desperately needed for the socio-economic development of Ghana.
We also offer plenty of opportunities for our pupils to develop their talents, abilities and skills in STEAM areas including music. We are also currently working at becoming a bilingual school, where everyone of our pupils would be able to express themselves and communicate effectively in both English and French, as Ghana is surrounded by French speaking countries, these skills would help create more educational and career opportunities for them in the near future".
What are the main issues of the Ghanaian educational system and how are you contributing to solve them?
"The main issues with our educational system however are dynamic and cover a number of major areas. At the core of our issues is in my opinion a lack of vision, focus, responsibility and most importantly motivation on the part of the major stakeholders in education in Ghana. And the outcome of this is that the average Ghanaian child who spends 14 years in pre-tertiary school is at the end of the day functionally illiterate, and the average Ghanaian high school graduate lacks skills in reading, comprehension, communication critical thinking, problem solving skills, creativity, innovativeness, I.T literacy and a lot more of other important skills and abilities needed for national building.
After 7 years the vision at ROBA has grown- inspired by our achievements with very limited resources. In general, we want to play our role to create better opportunities for young people in Ghana and beyond.
We also exist through partnership with ROBF to help create awareness about the gaps in our educational system, and to pioneer major innovative ways to improve learning outcomes for pre-tertiary education in Ghana, whilst leading by example.
We want educationists in Ghana to know that you can provide a caring and loving learning environment that rewards passion, excellence, dedication, commitment and hard work."
At WEbuiliding we can only add that we are grateful to have found such an amazing and dedicated partner to work with who shares a similar vision to that of our organization.