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Bethany Home Academy

Ga, Greater Accra, Ghana


School proprietor Seth Mensah (left) and headmaster Agyemon Agyei (right)
in front of new construction area

Ongoing New Construction

Computer Room and Classroom

Bethany Home Academy is located in the Madina West district of Ga, about 7 miles north of Accra, Ghana. Madina West has approximately 7,000 densely populated inhabitants in roughly 2 square miles. Its inhabitants are generally involved in petty trading in the informal economy as mobile street vendors and sellers of wares from small booths. Typically, the burden of producing income to support a family falls upon the women of the community. The area is known as a zongo, or a Muslim slum, whose inhabitants are mainly Muslim migrants. It is a very poor community with minimal public resources and poor sanitation standards (badly maintained open sewers). Once a week, the area is served by municipal water which allows those who have water tanks to fill them; however, this service does not arrive on any set schedule and the residents are otherwise required to buy water from water trucks at high prices. People in Madina West generally live four families per house. Families on average are comprised of six people; therefore a small house could have as many as twenty-four residents. The houses are mainly built out of concrete blocks with metal roofs, but there are many mud houses with thatched roofs which are more prone to collapse.

Almost all of Bethany Home Academy's students live within the community. Due to the poverty of the area, some students work at night and come to school exhausted to begin the school day. Bethany Home Academy has been in operation since 1996. The school is comprised of 3 main buildings and a separate annex building several blocks away, in total containing 15 classrooms. In general, the school appears well built and well maintained. The main complex is located on both sides of a street with one two-story building open to the street and the other buildings forming an enclosed compound with a small courtyard. Its infrastructure demonstrates a fairly high construction standard, especially as compared to other buildings in the community. However, the additional classrooms under construction (adjoining one of the existing buildings) have exposed some structural weaknesses, meaning that the original building will need to be repaired prior to the continuation of additional classroom construction.

The school is kept very tidy and a new coat of paint was recently added to the annex building. The classroom furniture is neatly arranged and kept in working order. The sanitation facilities, while being rudimentary, are kept surprisingly clean considering the lack of a steady water source and the school's limited capacity for water storage. The computer facility is among the best maintained I have seen, in spite of the fact that it is not well stocked. The school is in a worn state, but its infrastructure remains very useable due to good maintenance.

Bethany Home Academy serves 571 students; 198 pre-school and kindergarten, 310 primary (grades 1 through 6) and 63 upper school (grades 7 through 9). Class size averages 33 students. The proprietor of the school is Bawo Seth Mensah, Proprietor: 0244-224471, Agyemon Agyei, Headmaster: 0244-103247 (bethoaca@yahoo.com). There are 15 full time teachers. The school is large enough to employ teachers who specialize in individual subjects; however, typical educational level is only High School equivalency, although experience varies depending upon the grade level taught. The average term of employment for teachers at the school is six years and average compensation is 800,000 cedis ($89) per month. Tuition cost at Bethany Home Academy ranges from 200,000 to 550,000 cedis ($22 - $61) per child per term with approximately 20% of all students receiving some type of stipend. Single-parent families pay one-half of the normal rates and if a family sends 3 children the third attends for free. As the average family income in Madina is only 400,000 cedis ($44) a month, families have a very hard time paying for school fees. Because the school is in a very deprived area, the administration must accept that many students will not be able to pay for their education and therefore the school must subsidize the education of a significant percentage of the student body. In spite of these difficulties the school is growing and seeking to invite more students, paying and otherwise, to its facilities.

The school has 12 pit toilets (emptied regularly) and several urinals. Wash basins are provided for students to wash. Mr. Mensah would like to install flushing toilets to improve sanitation when funds become available. Minor first aid is administered at school, but when a child falls ill the school takes them to a nearby clinic, generally paying the clinic out of school funds. On-site medicine and trained personnel to administer it is another school goal. Electricity is available and reliable and phone lines are available for internet access to be established. The school has 12 computers located in a computer lab, however only four are in working condition. There is one computer teacher who is skilled in software. No one at the school is experienced with computer hardware; however, this expertise is available in Accra.

Bethany Home Academy operates more as a humanitarian or philanthropic organization than as a profit-generating venture. They are very interested in the Singer-Kids4Kids program and would like to establish a relationship with a school of similar size. Ideally, Bethany Home Academy would like assistance with the addition of three new classrooms; however, there are many other needs that the school has that require a much lower level of funding, such as 28 new chairs for their computer lab at a total cost of $500.00.

 

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