Accra, April 08, GNA – The dreams of Blessing Afriyie Panyin and Grace Afriyie Kakra, 8-year-old twin sisters have been kindled anew as they enrolled at the Baatsona TMA Pre-School in the sprawling Baatsona Community in Tema West.
The 8-year-olds have desired to be a part of a school community, sit in a classroom, like their privileged peers to read and write and aspire for greatness.
The smart and ambitious twins – Panyin wants to be a beautician and Kakra, a professional teacher with the promise to give back to children who do not have access to education.
For much part of their lives, they watched other children in their neighbourhood move to and fro the Baatsona TMA Pre-school, some 200 meters from their vicinity, while they played and wandered pointlessly.
It has been a long and tortuous journey, because for them, as much as they wished to dress modishly in their uniforms with black pairs of shoe and white matching socks and walk hurriedly to school, it could only take divine intervention and providence.
The twin connection Walking into a future that calls their wandering soles with dreams, fashioned by divine hands, Panyin and Kakra would meet Ms Victoria Amudzi, a seamstress who will become their saving grace and caregiver.
Ms Amudzi, herself a twin, found their situation rather worrying, having been in a similar predicament some years back as she struggled to have an education.
Rita Ama Nutsugah, the daughter of Ms Amudzi says, “they always showed up at our house on school days. They have so many potentials and my mother, being a twin like them, said she will provide for them.”
She indicates that despite her family’s financial constraints, Panyin and Kakra, whose single mother is well and alive but financially handicapped too, defied the odds to enrol them in school.
Like the twins, some 19 others in the Baatsona community, including Samuel Amu Mensah, all enrolled at the Baatsona TMA Pre-school, have the benefit of basic school education under the Process & Plant Automation Limited (PPA) Future Leaders Fund Scholarship Award.
SDG Four & Education Outlook
According to the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS), in 2020, about 265,188 children were out of school – an increase in the 2019 figure of 35,432.
Globally, about 258 million children and youth are out of school for the year ending 2018, according to the UIS.
The total includes 59 million children of primary school age, 62 million of lower secondary school age and 138 million of upper secondary age.
Providing quality education for all is fundamental to creating a peaceful and prosperous world. Education gives people the knowledge and skills they need to stay healthy, get jobs and foster tolerance.
Goal Two of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Four states that “By 2030, ensure that all girls and boys have access to quality early childhood development, care and pre-primary education so that they are ready for primary education.”
According to the United Nation (UN), an estimated 147 million children missed more than half of their in-class instruction over the past two years due to school closures caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
That generation of children, the UN says, could lose a combined total of $17 trillion in lifetime earnings in present value.
Conversely, the generation of Panyin and Kakra, who have lost eight (8) years of their lives without education (in-class instruction) with or without COVID-19, perhaps, could lose a cumulative total of $ 68 trillion in lifetime earnings in present value.
The targets of the SDGs on education would remain an illusion if measures were not put in place to improve access to quality basic education as countries strive to achieve universal primary and secondary education by 2030.
The TAGG Intervention
“This year, rather than two new entrants joining Primary One, we were moved to create an additional slot to include a twin sibling of one of the candidates as they are faced with the same challenges. » Mr Kweku Asmah, Group Chief Executive, The Automation Ghana Group (TAGG), excitedly announced at 8th annual Process & Plant Automation Limited (PPA) Future Leaders Fund Scholarship Award presentation in Accra.
Since the launch of the PPA Future Leaders Fund Scholarship Award in 2015, the PPA, an electrical engineering solutions provider and part of The Automation Ghana Group, has been dedicated to the cause of giving pupils identified as being at risk of dropping out of school a new lease to life.
The concept of an educational fund was born out of a desire to invest in education at the very basic level as a means to contribute to the improvement of lives of especially the future generation.
Within the vicinity of the company is a community that has a relatively low standard of living, hence the need to introduce a benevolent initiative, Future Leader’s Educational Fund, that will benefit society in the long term and improve lives through education.
The company, as part of its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), shoulders the burden of such pupils at the verge of dropping out of school due to the inability of their parents to cater for their school levies and other school supplies until they complete Junior High School (JHS).
Mr Asmah says, “with the advent of the Free Senior High School (SHS) policy, we hope all our JHS graduates make it to the SHS level of education.”
He observes that education, like other critical sectors of the economy, is key to promoting national development as it provides the needed manpower to boost the growth of the public and private sector.
According to the Chief Executive, scientific and technological innovations have become increasingly important in a globalised and knowledge-based economy and increasing science literacy to grow the next generation of innovators is important.
In the last Academic year, the company enrolled 24 pupils from Kindergarten One to JHS three with five of the pupils who sat the Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE), performing creditably.
The Infinity Club, a strategy to promote Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM), has resumed earnestly after a long break due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with 24 pupils enrolled from Primary four to JHS two.
The main aim of the club is to ignite the interest of students in science and technology using science sets to enable the students to come up with innovative ideas for their personal development and possibly consider the area of technology for their career development.
For the 2023 Academic year, the company awarded scholarships to 21 pupils from KG two to JHS three.
Thanks to TAGG, the likes of Panyin and Kakra, and the 19 other pupils, whose hopes were dashed, would have an opportunity to a basic school education with paid school levies, school uniforms, school bags, shoes, textbooks, and school stationery.
Basic education is indeed fundamental for personal and social development irrespective of the location and welfare status of all in society.
The condition of the 21 pupils who are currently in school and other previous PPA Scholarship beneficiaries begs the question; how different would their lives have been if they never went to school and never had the opportunity to learn how to read and write?
For Panyi and Kakra, a significant issue that prevented them from having an early education was cost even though other factors may have competed to deny them equitable access.
The cost barrier, Ms Nutsugah, caregiver of the twins, says, is important for policymakers to address, and adds that, it is one of the many other equally important factors, including the provision of grants, that shapes access to basic education in Ghana.
Statement by the Royal Office ...