Friday, 16 March 2012


There can be no doubt that schools in this part of the world run with almost no funds. It breaks my heart to think of stockrooms in my old school and the angst when we ran short of a specific size of exercise book or colour of paint. Children don’t paint here and they share a set of pencil crayons that are kept in the Head’s office. A few exercise books are being delivered to schools currently and are being signed for.

I have been working on School Performance Improvement Plans (SPIP) this week. These outline how schools are going to spend their termly “Capitation”. In this particular instance we are talking about the spending of GHc 422 (£169) for the benefit of 518 pupils. Everything except teachers’ salaries has to be purchased with these funds, including repairs to the buildings. Some is immediately creamed off for local levies for sport and culture. I have yet to see where that money benefits pupils as during the recent football tournament, no balls were available from the District Sports Officer and they certainly didn’t provide refreshments for the players………those costs had to be born by schools.

Anyway, once we had deducted costs for securing classrooms with padlocks and repairing the head’s office door, we were left with a few Cedis to buy biros, erasers and a few sheets of cardboard. The school drum, a vital piece of equipment here for marking times of the school day as well as its cultural importance, badly needs a new skin at a total cost of around £12. Unfortunately, this will need to wait another term as there is no money left!

By the way, when the SPIP is complete the exhaustive and bureaucratic process of submitting it to the District Office with another plan detailing costings begins. You cannot imagine the number of forms and receipts that need to be produced and the replication of information that is required. It is processes like this that keep officers relatively busy day after day. Whilst they are running around with unnecessary pieces of paper the job of School Improvement still lies there. Everyone is so busy concentrating on keeping time, they cannot address the issue of moving forward. There is so much fear of not having completed the correct paperwork, having the right evidence and following the procedures laid down a long time ago, it is a massive step to consider changing anything. The risk is too great to contemplate.

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