Technology, Ict, Endowment Funds In Public Elementary Schools: The Case Of Agona-Swedru Methodist School

Technology, Ict, Endowment Funds In Public Elementary Schools: The Case Of Agona-Swedru Methodist School

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“ It has not been easy to maintain, let alone improve upon, the level of academic and extracurricular excellence and leadership that a School like Swedru Methodist School used to be associated with, during the 1950s, 60s, and 70s . It must be pointed out, that the “Swedru ebuei”(socioeconomic boom) bandwagon of the 1950s and 1960s definitely had an educational dimension. “Swedru ebuei” was not limited to socio-economic advancement and successes.”

INTRODUCTION

In order to promote rapid socio-economic advancement, developing nations, such as Ghana, need to heavily invest and inculcate in their young citizens, acquisition of basic competencies in Science and Technology. This is especially important in the area of Information and Communications Technology(ICT). Right from Independence in 1957, Ghana signaled loudly its desire to ride the wave of Science and Technology to industrialization and economic development.

At the ‘center’ of the ICT universe sits the Computer. No wonder all public Schools, from Kindergarten to Senior High School, have been clamoring for the establishment of ICT Laboratories/Classrooms. Such laboratories must have enough modern computers, with Internet access, for teaching a class of about 40 students.

But, because of prohibitive costs, it has not been easy for many public elementary and Junior High Schools to develop such ICT Labs, where dedicated rooms are fully stocked with

computers. Government-provided funds tend to be for payments of Staff Salaries and benefits, as well as for other government-mandated institutional support, such as free tuition.

AGONA-SWEDRU METHODIST MIDDLE SCHOOL AND ITS ENDOWMENT FUND.

An Internet-supported ICT Lab, currently equipped with seventeen brand new ultra-modern computers, capable of supporting 40 students per class, has just been established in Agona- Swedru Methodist Middle School. The Lab is in a ‘classroom’ fully dedicated to ICT instruction.

In the late 1980s, Swedru Methodist School started constructing a new building to serve as a dedicated ICT Laboratory. But the economic downturn in Ghana in the 1980s, 90s and early 2000s made it difficult for the ICT building to be fully completed. So, in 2018, a brand new approach was adopted.—– do a major renovation and refurbishing of one of the existing classrooms, and dedicate it to ICT. But where was the money going to come from?

The Agona_Swedru Methodist School Endowment Fund.

Prior to the decision to revisit the ICT lab project, three Alumni members of Swedru Methodist School had teamed up to set up “Swedru Methodist School Endowment Fund”. It has Trustees and a Custodian Financial Institution. It was quite a novel, pioneering and therefore exciting idea. Public Schools in general, even tertiary public institutions, are not known for their exemplary performance in establishing and operating Endowment Funds. An Endowment Fund for an Elementary School is quite a pioneering concept, but with tremendous possibilities for transforming the academic life and experiences of the School.

Endowment Funds are crucial, among other key resources, for ensuring institutional viability, as well as for maintaining academic and other educational excellence. Naturally, for a public Junior High School, like Agona-Swedru Methodist School, there is a dire need for some modest amounts of money to be made regularly available, to be used for facilities maintenance, as well as for special purpose educational needs. In a developing country with limited budgets for mass public education, such modest but crucial and timely funds must come from the growth and gains of endowment funds.

As has already been stated, government-provided funds pay for Staff Salaries, benefits, and free tuition. A portion of the annual interest and gains of such an endowment fund could then be used for maintenance of infrastructural facilities. It can pay for replacing inexpensive but crucial instructional materials, and pay for Classroom Internet Subscriptions, teaching aids and student academic incentives and Scholarships. Recent experience has amply shown that, without such predictably available ‘small funds’, it has not been easy to maintain, let alone improve upon, the level of academic and extracurricular excellence and leadership that a School like Swedru Methodist School was associated with, during the 1950s, 60s, and 70s. It must be pointed out, that the “Swedru ebuei”( Swedru’s socio-economic boom) phenomena of the 1950s and 1960s definitely had an educational dimension. It was not limited to socio-economic advancement and successes.

Endowment Fund, General Funds, and The Project’s UK-based Donors .

In addition to the Swedru Methodist School Endowment Fund, the Swedru Methodist School Alumni also set up General Funds for infrastructural development and maintenance. Benefactors and generous donors, based in the United Kingdom, most notably Mr Paul Bertin and The Rotary Clubs of Kettering, Northamptonshire, UK, have donated generously to both the General Fund and the Endowment Fund. They donated most generously towards the renovation and conversion of the old classroom into a brand new ICT Lab. The cost of the renovation of the new ICT Lab Room was GHC30,213( thirty thousand, two hundred and thirteen Ghana Cedis).

The Government of Ghana, through the Ministry of Communications working through its agency, Ghana Investment Fund for Electronic Communication(GIFEC), provided ten new computers. The Rotary Clubs of Kettering, Northamptonshire, UK, provided seven Laptop Computers at a total cost of GHC 18,550 (eighteen thousand, five hundred and fifty Ghana Cedis). They donated very heavily towards the construction of a new classroom block to replace the one that was repurposed into an ICT Lab. The cost of the new Classroom Block, Office and Reception Room was GHC 71,273 (seventy-one thousand, two hundred and seventy-three Ghana Cedis).

Multiple Benefits : Cash Prizes, Academic Incentives, Help for Needy but Gifted Students, Infrastructure Maintenance.

For the past three years, investment gains from the Swedru Methodist School Endowment Fund have provided many benefits to the School. Past benefits, as well as some planned projects for the immediate future, are listed below:

  1. Cash Prizes to Methodist School Students for Academic Excellence.
  2. Support for Students Based on Need.
  3. Future plan for taking out One-Year Scholarships.
  4. Educational Materials for the School.
  5. Repairs to two old computers.
  6. Grants for two children.
  7. Repairs to the steps leading to classrooms.
  8. Purchase of one new computer.
  9. Future fencing for the School to prevent loitering and encroachment.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS:

  • Generous donations and support by Mr Paul Bertin and The Rotary Clubs of Kettering, UK, are tremendously appreciated.
  • Many thanks to Dr. Jaki Hunt and Dr. Warwick Hunt of the UK for making a generous donation towards the Swedru Methodist School Endowment Fund.
  • Superb technical support and direction by Mr. Dennis Kwesi Abaka Badzi, the IT Tutor for Swedru Methodist School, is hereby acknowledged.
  • We applaud The Administration, Teachers, Staff and Students of Swedru Methodist School for their infectious enthusiasm and patience during extended periods of project execution.

TRUSTEES

We gratefully acknowledge the sacrifices made by the following who serve so selflessly as TRUSTEES for the Swedru Methodist School Endowment Fund. They are: Ms. Dorothy Wonkyi Arthur( Headmistress); Ms. Becky Eduah; Mr. Theophilus Otoo; Ms. Elizabeth Richardson.

By: Mr. Alfred Kow Hanson, Dr. Sam E Mensah, Prof. A.O. Ebo Richardson. May 3, 2021. (Agona-Swedru)

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