South Dayi District, Ghana
The Proprietor was absent during our site visit. As a result,
four teachers were interviewed for the Singer-Kids4Kids
A typical open classroom
Concrete building for computer lab & library
Thalas Academy is located in Dzemeni (pronounced Jemenee), in the South Dayi District of Ghana. There are approximately 5,000 inhabitants in this rural area that stretches to a boat launch on Lake Volta and the townspeople are primarily farmers and fishermen. Dzemeni has a mix of cement and mud buildings. As is the case with all of South Dayi's rural and semi-rural settings there are open sewers, few paved roads except principal roads, and very limited government services to the community. There is no water and most residents receive their water from a water truck at relatively high costs.
The majority of the students live in the community but some come from as far away as another shore of the lake which is not served by schools (these are called "overbank" communities). Thalas Academy has been in operation since 2001. The school is comprised of 4 buildings containing 9 classrooms with one new classroom planned. At the outskirts of town, the school is located on a beautiful piece of land with a large green field, many trees for shade in the main schoolyard and pleasant hills as a backdrop. There is one well-built new concrete building to be used as a computer room, library, storeroom, and additional classroom space. The main class blocks are made from rammed earth and have corrugated metal roofing. The walls of these buildings are seriously eroded, giving the impression that they will not stand for many more years.
The classroom floors are dirt and are sunken, allowing rains to easily enter. One earthen building previously served as a teacher's common room and class space, but half of it caved in during a windstorm and it now serves as a sad indoor and badly sheltered outdoor classroom. The toilets are in a concrete structure, but the urinals are in a collapsing makeshift structure fashioned out of rusted corrugated metal. The school grounds are clean and very well kept, with the grass trimmed and flowers planted along the class blocks. The school furniture is rather worn, in part due to its exposure to the elements, as the classrooms are always open. Lack of capital is certainly the reason for why the school has crumbling infrastructure and has not developed further.
Thalas Academy serves 230 students from nursery to upper school. Class size averages 25 students. The owner of the school is Proprietor: Mr. Thalus - email@example.com. There are 8 full time teachers who are all Secondary School graduates. Teacher tenure averages three years and salaries average 300,000 cedis ($33) per month. Tuition cost at Thalas Academy ranges from 80,000 to 105,000 cedis ($9 - $12) per child per term. Many children whose families cannot afford the tuition attend for free. If a family has three children attending school there is no charge for the third student. The average family income in Gbawe-Topbese is only 300,000 cedis ($33) a month, so most families do not have the ability to pay full tuition.
Wash basins are not available and there are two pit toilets and two urinals for teachers and students. The school is very much in need of new toilet facilities. There is no medical aid available at school and when a child falls ill the school takes them to a nearby clinic at school expense. The school would like have medical supplies and be able to provide on-site first aid.
Thalas Academy currently has no electrical supply but there are plans for it to be connected this year. No internet connections are available until electricity arrives; however, school teachers believe that it will then be possible. The school has three computers and there is one person in the community who is qualified to maintain and repair them.
While it was unfortunate that Mr. Thalus was away during the Singer-Kids4Kids visit, it allowed our representative to view the school's development status from a different angle. He came away infected by the teachers' enthusiasm for the program. These individuals were truly concerned with the state of their workplace as well as the quality of their children's education. They were especially interested in having their students visit the US and having American students visit Ghana. The school's location is by far the most beautiful of any visited by Singer-Kids4Kids and based upon the quality of the new development at the school (the only concrete building) there appears to be a commitment to improving its basic infrastructure despite a lack of capital.
Ultimately, Thalus Academy would like to acquire new desks for all of their students and 20 new computers; however, there are many other needs that the school has that require a much lower level of funding, ranging from $200 for teaching aids to $600.00 for a photocopy machine.