Increased school enrollment in Eshireso Kokofu
Eshireso Kokofu is located in the Wassa Amenfi East district of Western Region of Ghana with an estimated population of 590 inhabitants, of whom 150 were children at the time it was selected for ICI support. There was no school in the community, and children had to trek 6 – 8 km to attend school in nearby communities. Those who could not manage the long walk were reported to be loitering in the community, compelling many parents to send their children to farms to work, sometimes in hazardous conditions.
Prior to ICI’s intervention in the community, the local Member of Parliament supported the community to put up three classrooms, but the school was not operational because the community leaders did not know how to secure the necessary materials and support from the local authorities.
During the community dialogue and awareness-raising process conducted by ICI’s implementing partner, RECA, parents agreed on the urgency of having a functional school in the community. Leaders in the community contacted the District Education office of the Ghana Education Service for all the teaching and learning materials they needed. When the school finally became operational, it was quickly noticed that there was a shortage of classrooms for the class groups required, compelling the teachers to combine some classes, and to omit classes 4 to 6, as well as kindergarten. As a result of this, the school was not recognized by the district authorities, and parents were disinclined to send their children to it.
The construction of an additional three classrooms emerged as a major priority in the community’s Community Action Plan. ICI gave micro-project funds to support the community in constructing three classrooms and a teacher’s office. The project received further support from GHACEM (a cement manufacturing company in Ghana) and from the District Assembly. With this assistance, the community played the lead role in boosting the capacity and quality of their local school. In total the community contributed 30% of the various costs (in kind materials, adult labour costs, travel costs to lobby for support from the local government). The additional classrooms were completed at the end of 2012, and in 2013, the Ghana Education Service posted 3 new teachers to augment the teaching capacity. The school, which started with 31 children in 2008 and a dwindling enrolment rate, increased the number of pupils to 75 children in 2012, and currently has 161 pupils enrolled, from Kindergarten to Primary Level 6, representing more than a 400% increase. Over the last 2 years, school attendance has also improved, from 75% to 84%, due to the better quality of education and the improved reputation of the school, and the parallel efforts on discouraging child labour in the community.
Parents now see the school as one of the best schools in the district. According to the headmaster Mr. Stephen Ntiako ‘Eshireso Kokofu community school, which was previously nothing to write home about, is now regarded as one of the finer schools in the district’.