Ghana Together works with our Ghanaian friends of Western Heritage Home, a Ghanaian-registered and managed non-profit, to improve social, educational, and health conditions in Axim, Ghana. Together we accomplish projects, connect WHH to resourceful individuals and organizations, and create sustainable programs. We make a real difference to real people in a local, grassroots effort. Our website at tells our story.

Feb 11, 2012

PTA Ghana Style

I was walking to town about ten in the morning. A woman fell in with me---a teacher from Methodist Primary School. Did I want to join her at the Parent-Teacher Association Meeting (PTA)? Well sure.
A little background. When we first came to Axim in late 2006, schools collected tuition from every student and it was out of reach for many. When we rolled into town at mid-day---15 obronis (white people) on a bus---it was definitely not an everyday happening—more like the circus come to town. We were mobbed by dozens of children---children who were obviously NOT in school

Not long after that, Ghana started providing tuition-free education in its “government schools” from kindergarten through sixth grade and then later junior high. Parents still have expenses---uniforms, exercise books, shoes, pens, perhaps a bookbag, etc. But now the majority of children are in school, albeit over-crowded to the point of running double sessions with 40-60 kids/class. There are not many kids on the streets during the day anymore, except in the poorest neighborhoods.
It’s always a little confusing to explain the Ghanaian school organization. The Methodist School, for example, was established by Methodist missionaries in the early 20th century, and is physically owned by the town’s Methodists, but the school is a “government” school, with teachers paid by the Ghana Education Service, and using the GES curriculum. The students are from all over town, and are not necessarily Methodists. The Anglican and Catholic schools have similar arrangements. There are also several private schools in town, but most are not church-related, and they still require tuition payments.

But to get to the point. As a result of so many children now enrolled in school, each school has formed a PTA. This particular PTA meeting was held in the Methodist Church, in Axim Center---the only venue for the very large number of parents present---mostly Moms, but Dads too.

As we arrived, the leader was urging parents to buy library cards, to participate in the Axim Library’s “mobile library by taxi” program that I wrote about in a prior post. He didn’t know I was going to be there, but I had met him earlier and he introduced me.

He asked me to speak. I asked how many had children with library cards---almost all raised their hands, and I clapped and they clapped. The leader asked me to say a few words. I asked them to ask their children to read to them every day in the house, because they would be so proud of their children’s reading ability. (I also had in mind that the children will actually teach the Moms by doing this). The leader translated and asked how many would do that, and they all raised their hands. So we all clapped again. He urged those without cards to find the 50 pesewas soon. Then I left and they went on to other topics.
The fancy tablecloth says how important this meeting is!