Strengthening Women’s Education in GhanaSeveral steps are being taken to strengthen women’s education in Ghana and to also narrow the gender gap in schools throughout the country. The country is very close to achieving gender equality in primary school enrollment, which is a significant milestone. Women’s access to education in Ghana past primary school, however, still has room for improvement.

Different approaches are being enacted to promote empowerment and women’s education in Ghana. While some approaches are traditional and in correlation with poverty reduction and Millenium Development Goals, others are led by individuals and women trying to make a difference in their own communities.

One such individual is Adeline Nyabu. Nyabu created the Girls Empowerment League, aiming to increase attendance and boost the academic performance of young girls. This league connects girls to female role models and teaches leadership, passion for education and achievement, and shows the realistic and positive outcomes for a woman who completes continuing education. In addition, the program is designed to boost the self-esteem, confidence, aspirations, determination and self-worth of girls in an unequal society.

Another program in place is the Campaign for Female Education. This program partners with MasterCard to provide scholarships to pay for examination registration fees, uniform costs, educational materials and financial packages for girls in rural communities in Ghana. Since 2012, more than 4,000 girls have been awarded the scholarship to continue their education and are equipped to become influential leaders and scholars, in hopes that they will pave the way and be role models for other girls in situations that seem impossible to get out of.

A traditional approach to improving women’s education in Ghana and narrowing the educational gender gap throughout the country is through the Girls Education Unit (GEU), part of the Ghana Education Service under the Ministry of Education. Since its establishment in 1997, GEU has made it possible to have a Girls Education Officer in every district and region of the country.

The Ministry of Education also provides training for female teachers in male-dominated rural areas and promotes girls’ clubs and camps teaching empowerment, self-worth, leadership and teamwork in a female-dominated environment.

These initiatives and programs have resulted in progress towards the goal to increase women’s education in Ghana, created greater access for girls and narrowed the gender gap within schools. Enrollment in both primary and secondary education has increased by around 10 percent, with a significantly greater increase in enrollment for girls. As a result, Ghana’s gender parity index has improved from 0.93 to 0.95. The country can continue to build on this success to achieve complete gender parity and empower its women and girls to reach their full potential.

– Lydia Lamm

Photo: Flickr


Volunteer Adofo Antwi (right) explains to mother-of-four Ama Konadu in Apenimadi, Bonsaaso Millennium Village, how to hang a bednet. Trained by Millennium Village Project staff, volunteers across the cluster work with communities to hang bednets at all sleeping sites and educate local people about the dangers of malaria. Since 2006, over 30,000 long-lasting insecticide-treated bednets have been distributed, covering all households in the cluster.

Malaria prevention in Ghana is a focus of the nation’s Health Service efforts and is seen as the largest epidemic tormenting the Ghana people. Malaria is a potentially deadly disease caused by a one-celled parasite known as Plasmodium. This parasite is carried and transmitted by the Anopheles mosquito that feeds of humans.

People who become infected with malaria often show flu-like symptoms such as: fever, chills, aches and more. The devastation of this disease on not just the people, but the social and economic structure of Ghana, cannot be understated.

Who is Most Vulnerable to Malaria?

Over three million people contract malaria every year in Ghana which accounts for 44.5 percent of all outpatient attendances. Nearly half of all malaria cases in Ghana are children under the age of five and the disease is responsible for 12 percent of under-five deaths. Of those who die from malaria, 85 percent of them are children.

With such devastating numbers, especially for the nation’s children, it is no wonder malaria prevention in Ghana is the top priority of health officials. Not only are the children of Ghana at a greater risk of contracting malaria, but it also disproportionately affects pregnant women whose immune systems are lowered and more vulnerable during pregnancy.

Pregnant women who contract malaria can see severe adverse health effects such as maternal anemia which leads to: miscarriages, low birth weight, and even maternal mortality.

How does Malaria Affect Ghana?

Malaria prevention in Ghana doesn’t just save the lives of children and their mothers, but it also is necessary for the economic and technological growth of Ghana. Malaria has historically been the number one cause of illness and morbidity in Ghana, but malaria is also a major cause of poverty and poor productivity.

With nearly half of the three million malaria cases every year attributed to children, staying in school falls to the wayside as families focus on the recovery of their children. Being taken out of school, greatly affects one’s future earning capacity for themselves, their family, and their future children.

Obtaining an education is often the biggest tool to improving living conditions of not just the individual and their family, but the community as well.

Not only are children at a risk of death after contracting malaria, but children who survive and fight the disease carry long-term consequences into adulthood such as seizures and brain dysfunction. These conditions can make it difficult once the disease is gone to go back to school and receive an education.

Treating and fighting the malaria endemic costs Ghana a significant amount that causes economic growth to be slowed by 1.3 percent a year in Africa; the annual economic burden of malaria is estimated to be 1-2 percent of the Gross Domestic Product in Ghana.

Roll Back Malaria Initiative: Goals and Successes

In 1999, Ghana signed onto the Roll Back Malaria initiative developing a strategic plan of action for implementation. The goal of malaria prevention in Ghana, as dictated by the initiative, is to reduce malaria specific morbidity and mortality by 50 percent by 2010 and 75 percent by 2015.

While Ghana did not meet those deadlines at the expected times, Ghana continues to strengthen health services to make malaria prevention techniques more available to the people of Ghana. Strategies for malaria prevention in Ghana as seen on Ghana’s Health Services page includes the:

  • Promotion of insecticide treated bed nets usage; chemoprophylaxis in pregnancy and environmental management to reduce rate of infection
  • Improve malaria case management at all levels (from household to health facility);
  • Encourage evidence-based research to come up with effective interventions and
  • Improve partnership with all partners at all levels.

The Roll Back Malaria Initiative in Ghana empowers the nation to pursue goals to better equip health facilities with malaria diagnostic tools (microscopes or RDTs) and effective antimalarial drugs. Furthermore, the implementation of indoor residual spraying and the spread of insecticide treated materials such as bug nets, have shown success.

The Need for Scale-Up

Nearly 750,000 lives have been saved across Africa due to the Roll Back Malaria Initiative, but the fight for malaria prevention in Ghana still has a long journey ahead. Ensuring children in rural areas have access to clinics and malaria treatment options can be tricky.

Ghana still calls for a scaling up of this community-based treatment in more secluded districts; in districts where treatment is available, the cost of treatment can be out of reach for many families. The inability to access such resources decreases community engagement in treatment, and demonstrates how great the need in Ghana is for affordable malaria prevention methods.

– Kelilani Johnson

Photo: Flickr

Ghana Social Opportunities ProjectDuring the past two decades, sustained and inclusive economic growth has enabled Ghana to reduce the number of its citizens living in poverty by half, from 52.6 percent to 21.4 percent, and this number is continuing to drop. Although there is much to celebrate about the recent reduction of those living in poverty, there are still a number of people, primarily in rural areas, that are living in poverty. The Ghana Social Opportunities Project is an initiative headed by the World Bank with the goal of alleviating poverty in these rural areas.

The project is focused on supporting the creation of social protection policy and increasing participation in the Labor Intensive Public Works and the Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty programs, among other social protection initiatives.

Labor Intensive Public Works Programs

Labor Intensive Public Works programs, a major component of the Ghana Social Opportunities Project, is a social protection tool often used by governments in developing countries to reduce unemployment and alleviate overall poverty.

The programs seek to employ people for physical infrastructure projects using local labor and raw materials. By using local labor instead of machinery for infrastructure projects, more jobs are created and thus more people are employed and earning money to provide for their family.

The successes in Ghanaian communities where Labor Intensive Public Works Programs are at work are evident, as the percentage of people living in poverty has decreased significantly.

Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty Programs

Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty programs, better known as LEAP programs, are another major component of the Ghana Social Opportunities Project.

First launched in 2008, LEAP programs were adopted by Ghana’s government with the help of the World Bank. The programs aim to alleviate short-term poverty while encouraging long-term human capital development. LEAP programs provide cash and health insurance to poor households across the country. Currently, there are 90,785 households that are being paid through LEAP programs.

Additionally, LEAP is set to launch a new initiative this month called LEAP 1000. This initiative targets extremely poor households and is concentrated in Ghana’s northern and upper east regions.

LEAP programs are one way the government is working with international aid organizations to solve issues of poverty on a localized, household level. Because of the cash benefits LEAP communities receive, many communities are experiencing a turnaround and poverty reduction in rural areas is catching up to the rest of the country.

Continued Growth

The distribution of wealth, particularly between rural and urban areas, is the main focus for many developing countries. Much of Ghana’s economic growth has come from the migration of people to Ghana’s cities. Opportunities exist in urban areas that usually do not exist in rural areas; this is one reason for the unequal distribution of wealth among Ghana’s population.

Because Ghana has recently benefited from prolonged growth for a long period of time, the country’s challenge is distributing this growth among its entire population. This can be achieved through infrastructure transformation, the emergence of a more specialized and skilled labor force and an increase in Ghana’s geographically mobility. By continuing to focus on these areas, Ghana can ensure that this development will keep expanding and benefit all of its citizens.

– Sonja Flancher

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

 Ghana
In recent years, researchers, doctors and health organizations have begun to target the high rate of pneumonia deaths. As one of the largest causes of death in children, pneumonia and researchers’ search for its solutions have not been taken lightly. The Ghana Health Service and partner GAVI, supported by UNICEF, launched vaccines to combat the infection in 2012.

What is Pneumonia?

Pneumonia is a bacterial, fungal or viral infection of the air-sacs in one’s lung or lungs, usually caused by the inhalation of specific or diseased germs. The infection causes fluid build up in the lungs, difficulty breathing, high fever, sweating, chills, chest pain and discoloration of fingertips. The best way to treat this infection is through immunizations and antibiotics.

Historically, pneumonia has been the leading cause of death in those under-five years old. Steps have occurred to decrease death rates from year-to-year, but yet unfortuantely, the number of deaths and the percentage of children lost to pneumonia is still staggering.

What Are the Impacts of Pneumonia?

In the year 2010 alone, pneumonia caused the deaths of 16,200 children, and the total number of deaths brought about because of pneumonia was a reported 13 percent. Subsequently, this percentage remained consistent between the years 2000 and 2010, and the percentage of deaths at the hands of this infection remained between twelve and thirteen percent, without substantial improvement.

Despite the decade-long absence of progress in pneumonia prevention and treatment, advancements have started taking place in more recent years. In April 2012, UNICEF supported the Ghana Health Service and partner GAVI, the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunizations, in launching pneumonia and diarrhea vaccines and the first ever World Immunization Week. The introduction of these vaccines to Ghana was a monumental step towards decreasing fatalities.

Ghana Health Service and its Aid

Although the establishment of vaccinations was a large logistical undertaking — including increasing hospital refrigeration storage in all ten regions of Ghana — the children of the country have benefited greatly from such measures. Pneumonia, for the first time ever in 2013, was not the leading cause of death for those under-five, though it was still the second-largest cause. Consequently, the total percentage of pneumonia causing fatalities decreased by 44 percent by 2015.

The installation of the pneumonia vaccine to Ghana has helped combat the vast amount of children who are annually impacted by the infection; however, there is still much progress to be made. As of 2017, UNICEF worked diligently to decrease pneumonia cases through fighting poor sanitation and open defecation.

How to Create Sustainable Solutions

To combat such massive undertakings, the organization implemented latrines and water pumps to as many communities as possible. Many have poured great effort into this ‘war against pneumonia’ and the Ghana Health Service, but measures must increase for significant and permanent changes to be sustained.

– Lydia Lamm

Photo: Flickr

livestock production in ghana
With adequate rainfall, plentiful vegetation and a low pest population, Ghana’s Northern Savannah Ecological Zone is an optimal environment for cattle production. Despite this prime landscape, livestock production in Ghana has remained low. Insufficient or otherwise absent livestock policies, uninformed ranching practices and lack of funding are among the many factors responsible for underperforming livestock production in Ghana.

Limitations of Meat Access

Over the years, the domestic meat industry has become so problematic that it became cheaper for Ghana to import its meat from South America and Europe. Furthermore, poor cattle production has contributed to nationwide nutrition issues. According to USAID, about 1.2 million Ghanains face food insecurity, and anemia and iron deficiency afflict much of the population.

Recognizing meat access limitations, nutrition deficiencies and cattle mortality in the country, Kamal-Deen Yakub, Damian Brennan and Luis Grolez came together to find an innovative solution to such a persisting problem. In 2013, the trio launched Farmable, a “crowdfarming” platform that connects investors to smallholder cattle farmers in the country.

Crowdsourced funding enables farmers to take better care of their cattle, receive education in agricultural best practices and business development and sell in the domestic market, ultimately improving livestock production in Ghana over time.

Here’s How it Works:

  1. Investors visit Farmable to select a farm in Ghana and start a new cow, which they can name and give certain attributes. Popular funded cows include Borat Cow, Moochacho and Moominator. Alternatively, crowdfunders can invest in a cow that’s already on it’s way to becoming fully funded.
  2. Once a cow has 20 investors, it is linked to a real cow on the farm of the investor’s initial choosing.
  3. Farmhands tag the cow, and investors can track the cow’s health and progress online through preparation for sale in the domestic meat market.
  4. After the meat sells, the investor can reap profits. Investments help continue farmer education, production and marketing efforts.

Since launching, Farmable has helped to revolutionize the cattle ranching industry for participating farmers. “The company has succeeded in bringing together 7,500 cows owned by 600 smallholder farmers. We have sold about 1100 cows through the platform direct from the farms,” cofounder Kamal-Deen Yakub told The Borgen Project.

Education and Optimization

In light of these successes, Farmable has had to put the crowdfarming platform on a temporary hold as it gears up for its next phase. The company is focusing on educating farmers and optimizing production in the interim: “We engage farmers through partnership with existing incubators working to build capacities of smallholder farmers,” Yakub explained.

Farmable recruits subject-matter experts from the University of Ghana, local veterinary officers and experienced farmers to provide training for participants.

Livestock Production in Ghana

Over the next few years, Farmable plans to establish renewable energy cattle ranches in Ghana to promote sustainable practices and cut down on costs. The company will use dung and agricultural waste to produce manure and biogas respectively to sustain these renewable energy ranches for free. Yakub encourages potential donors to stay tuned for this important next step.

The crowdfunding platform will go live again in the coming future, and Yakub hopes investors “are ready to participate in the crowdfarming and become cow backers.”

– Chantel Baul

Photo: Flickr

How to End the Hygiene Crisis in Ghana
Diarrhea kills 2,195 children each day, more than Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome, malaria and measles combined, and n
early 11 percent of Ghana’s population relies on surface water — water that collects on the surface of the ground or top layer of a body of water — for their daily hydration needs. This water is unpurified and unsafe for human consumption, yet Ghanaians lack a safe alternative. Ghanaians who ingest surface water are at risk for water-related diseases, such as ever-deadly diarrhea.  

Risk of Diarrhea

According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, diarrhea is a global health concern with 1.7 billion cases occurring every year. Although diarrhea can affect any age-group, it is the second leading cause of death in children under the age of five; in fact, 2,195 child fatalities happen every day worldwide. The hygiene crisis in Ghana has escalated with diarrhea as the third leading cause of death for children under five, taking nearly 10,000 lives every year.

How Does Diarrhea Become Fatal?

Diarrhea depletes body fluids, causing dehydration, and children often die when they have lost too much water from their bodies.

Several organizations have implemented health initiatives to combat the hygiene crisis in Ghana. Preventing diarrhea is possible by increasing water availability and quality, distributing oral rehydration salts, breastfeeding infants until six months of age and educating the population on proper sanitization techniques.

UNICEF and IWASH

‘IWASH,’ UNICEF Ghana’s handwashing project, yields extremely promising results in entire villages in Ghana; the program educates schoolchildren on the health effects of not washing their hands. While touring a handwashing facility with 70 schoolchildren, District Resource Coordinator Issah-Bello said that students should share their knowledge in order to be an ambassador for behavior change and end the hygiene crisis in Ghana.

The Rehydration Project

The Rehydration Project cites oral rehydration salts, or ORS, as the most effective and least expensive way to combat diarrhoeal dehydration. ORS is a combination of dry salts mixed with clean water that replaces fluids lost from diarrhea. If ORS is unavailable, a homemade solution may be made with six teaspoons of sugar, one-half teaspoon of salt and one liter of clean water.

Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding infants until six months of age can reduce infants’ likelihood of contracting diarrhea because breastfeeding mothers do not prepare their infant’s formula with contaminated water.

Clean Water

Water.org believes that clean water is the way to end poverty, save lives and prepare for the future. Since 2009, Water.org has worked to increase access to safe drinking water and sanitization facilities in Ghana. The organization’s current project is expected to be completed in late 2017, and is in the process of constructing 61 water facilities.

Water.org has also reached 53,000 Ghanaians through water systems, health and hygiene education and borehole wells. With numerous solutions like these, the hygiene crisis in Ghana is well on its way to resolution.

– Carolyn Gibson

Photo: Flickr

Credit Access in GhanaLocated on the western coast of Africa, Ghana is a country of lowland hills, secluded beaches and historical colonial buildings. Named Africa’s most peaceful country by the Global Peace Index, Ghana is considered a leading African nation due to its status as the first country south of the Sahara to break free from colonial rule.

While Ghana has already taken major steps towards improving the country’s stability and proficiency, such as improving water sanitation and education, it still has a long way to go in terms of building up its economic stability to mirror those of other nations. One key method to improve the country’s economy is through strengthening farmers’ access to technology and making loans more accessible to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), which are both happening through improving credit access in Ghana.

Strengthening credit access in Ghana would help alleviate poverty on a large scale, and this would be mostly due to how it would help farmers and business owners. In Ghana, agricultural production encompasses 23 percent of the country’s GDP, while SMEs make up approximately 50 percent, and having credit access is a vital component of making these industries run efficiently and smoothly.

In the agricultural industry, technology is an essential component of the Ghanaian culture and economy, and unfortunately, many farmers lack access to technologies that have the ability to make the agricultural system productive. In order for farmers to have access to such resources, they need to have access to credit.

In recent years, research has shown that improving credit access in Ghana will boost the country’s adoption of more productive technologies, which will lead to a rise in the country’s overall GDP. A study was done by Swiss Management Center that also found the combination of high cost of credit and unavailability of credit are Ghana’s main constraints on the Ghanaian economy.

Lack of credit access in Ghana is a major barrier to technology adoption, and in order for Ghana to reach a stable economy that incorporates food security and safety, Ghana must find a way to overcome this. In a policy brief conducted by the Global Hunger and Food Security Initiative at UC Davis, researchers identified two main concerns of credit access in Ghana:

  1. Index-insured loans are not reliable as payouts and may not cover losses.
  2. While credit loans increase credit supply, these type of loans have an extremely low demand.

In this survey mentioned above, 73 percent of the sample borrowed money in 2014, while only 54 percent demonstrated a willingness to pay market value for their insured loans. This problem of insurance is quite profound in Ghana, as lower-income and lower-educated farmers are more inclined to take out uninsured loans to cover technologies and farming supplies, while banks would prefer insured loans in order to protect their portfolios and reduce the number of borrowers.

Likewise, banks do offer loans that are specifically made to meet the needs of small businesses. However, banks are often hesitant to lend to the SME sector, and this is largely due to credit history. Banks that lend to small businesses are only willing to do so at extremely high interest rates, something that many companies are not willing to accept.

However, despite the conflicts of interest and benefits that are occurring within the credit access debate, Ghanaian policymakers are currently creating a plan that details a comprehensive strategy to improving credit access in Ghana, and the hope is that it will focus on improving the structure and stability of the country’s smaller businesses.

Both the Ghanaian agricultural and commercial industries have long ways to go until they are on a path of improvement rather than standstill, but Ghanaian lawmakers are determined to find a way to improve the country’s future credit availability.

– Alexandra Dennis

Photo: Flickr

How the U.S. Benefits from Foreign Aid to GhanaAccording to Tamela Noboa of the Baltimore Sun, foreign aid makes up less than 1 percent of the U.S. budget. As with many countries around the world, the U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Ghana, and these benefits could be multiplied if the U.S. contributes more to its foreign aid budget.

The U.S. always had an unofficial relationship with Ghana in supporting refinements of its power sector, strengthening healthcare and expanding access to education. Ghana possesses a level of dependency upon assistance given to it by the U.S., a dependence by which a cut in foreign aid could further hinder the country’s development. Since foreign assistance makes up such a minimal amount of the U.S. budget, increasing the amount of foreign aid would advance both countries.

The U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Ghana in these ways:

  1. Epidemics such as Ebola can be minimized and contained away from U.S. borders. According to David Ofori-Adjedi and Kwadwo Koram in an article for the Ghana Medical Journal, the possibility of the Ebola virus appearing in Ghana was high, due to the continuous presence of the virus in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia in 2014. The likelihood of Ebola spreading in Ghana stems from its ability to manage an outbreak if it arises. As Bill Gates pointed out in an op-ed for Time, using foreign aid to ensure that countries such as Ghana are prepared to address an outbreak can keep it from spreading globally.
  2. The U.S. Embassy in Ghana believes that foreign aid contributes to strengthening cultural relationships for stable networking. For instance, foreign aid reinforces markets for U.S. products, opening up possibilities for future partnerships.
  3. Continuing foreign aid distribution to countries like Ghana contributes to sustainable change that aims to improve countries on a systemic level, allowing the country to further develop and eventually lessen its need for foreign aid.
  4. Investing in foreign countries creates the opportunity for nations like Ghana to invest back in the U.S., creating jobs across the country.

According to the U.S. Department of State, Ghana is currently facing a $1.5 billion shortfall in its funding for infrastructure projects. Continued support of these needs through foreign aid can ensure that the U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Ghana by helping the country reach its potential and become a bigger participant in the global economy.

– Christopher Shipman

Photo: Flickr

4 Amazing People Showing How to End World Hunger from the GroundWhenever people debate how to end world hunger or global poverty, individuals often resign themselves to the fact that the problem is too big for a single person to actually affect much change. While global food insecurity is a daunting task, people still are fighting to address it. Below are three people (and one group) who started with only a plan and determination and are now making the world a better place.

Elijah Amoo Addo (Food For All Africa)

In 2011, Elijah Amoo Addo, a Ghanian chef, saw a homeless man rummaging through his restaurant’s trash. When asked, the man told Elijah he was collecting leftovers for his friends. From that point forward, Elijah swore no food from the restaurant he worked at would go to waste.

Around 30 percent of children growing up in Ghana are malnourished, a statistic with a strong correlation to being impoverished, according to the Ghanian government. The high number of starving children in Ghana surprised Elijah and caused him to quit his job to start Ghana’s first food bank and the organization Food For All Africa.

Now, Food For All Africa recovers $5,700 in wasted food every month with the hopes of scaling up to other parts of Africa and feeding one million impoverished Africans by 2020.

Cindy Levin (Charity Miles & RESULTS)

Cindy Levin, a mother of two in her 40s, defeats the myth that there is not enough time in a day to help the less fortunate. In fact, the anti-poverty advocate dedicates her time to dispelling that very idea with her position at RESULTS. There, Cindy coaches people on how to organize fundraising activities themselves, with a focus on getting stay-at-home mothers and children involved and educating them on how to end world hunger.

But Cindy keeps going. In 2013, Cindy ran a 5K with her 9-year-old daughter; two days later, she ran a half marathon. In the process, she raised enough money to vaccinate 100 children against polio, measles, rotavirus and pneumococcal virus through [email protected], a cause she felt passionate about after traveling to Uganda and meeting with impoverished mothers.

Bill Ayres (Why Hunger)

In 1975, musician Harry Chapin and radio DJ Bill Ayres wondered why, in a world with so much, so many people were still lacking. These two friends believed that access to nutritious food was a human right and that the problem of how to end world hunger was solvable. As a result, they committed themselves to changing the policies and institutions that perpetuate world hunger.

Their organization, Why Hunger, leads by funding grassroots organizations. In 2016, the organization funded and provided resources for over 100 grassroots organizations to the tune of $485,000, with a focus on community solutions. These solutions range from agroecological training to leadership development for women and youths.

Bill Ayres and his organization believe that social justice is an integral part of how to end world hunger. A major step taken in the past year was the establishment of a national alliance of emergency food providers that hopes to shift the conversation about how to end world hunger from a charitable cause to a push for social justice.

Istanbul&I

In February 2016, 11 international students got together in Istanbul, where they envisioned creating a storytelling program to bring different cultures together and help displaced people from Syria and Iraq talk through some of their trauma.

When Ramadan came around that year, the group gathered donations to provide iftar (the traditional sunset meal) to people in Istanbul’s vulnerable Tarlabasi neighborhood. Now, 11 friends have become over 300 from 50 different countries. While cultural exchanges and soup kitchens are still an integral part of Istanbul&I, the group does so much more now. They provide digital literacy programs to refugees, give Turkish and English language lessons, landscaped a neighborhood retirement center, run comedy fundraisers and raise money to support an orphanage for boy refugees so they can continue their education.

You: How to End World Hunger

All these people began with a desire, a wish. They did not start out with money, but they believed in themselves and now others do too. So, next time someone says poverty is here to stay and nothing can be done about it, remember these four groups who asked, “how can I alleviate global poverty? How to end world hunger?” and took their brains and their hands and started working.

– David Jaques

Photo: Flickr

educational reform in Ghana

In 1993, the Republic of Ghana established the Ministry of Education to provide easier educational access to Ghanaian citizens. The ministry focuses on academic, technical and vocational programs. The Ministry of Education also concentrates on infrastructure, the refurbishing of schools and bringing in newly trained teachers and academic scholars.

Seven years later, in 2000, Ghana incorporated a new educational reform program, called the Ghana Education Trust Fund. The fund was installed to provide quality education from basic (elementary) schooling to tertiary (college; trade schools).

Educational reform in Ghana finally began with Ghana’s Vision 2020 Act, which started in 1996. The plan was broken down into four parts: The First Step (1996-2000), Ghana Poverty and Reduction Strategy (2003-2005), Growth and Poverty Reduction Strategy (2006-2009) and the Ghana Shared Growth and Development Agenda (2010-2013).

The 2020 date was set to give the Ghanaian government enough time to accomplish all of its goals, with hopes that the government will go above and beyond to exceed all of its expectations in time. Ghana finished the project in 2015, accomplishing a great deal five years before the deadline.

Education has been free for primary school (elementary) and middle school. However, high school was optional, with most high schools being privately owned, making it difficult for many families to afford higher education for their children and causing students to drop out at a young age.

In 2014, Ghana’s president partnered with the World Bank to announce a new project called the Ghana Secondary Education Improvement Project, which launched free public education at the high school level in 2017, giving children a chance to stay in school to further their education in the hope that free education will lower the dropout rate in Ghana.

The financing provides $156 million over five years, between 2014 and 2019. The plan will help the Ghanaian government improve its educational reform plan, provide educational access to underserved children, improve the quality of education and provide technical assistance. Students and teenagers are welcoming educational reform in Ghana and the chance to attend free higher-level educational institutions, and are hopeful that this program will give them the opportunity for a better life not only for themselves, but for their families too.

Promoting educational reform in Ghana will not only provide children with better academic opportunities and skills, but will also help fight against child labor. Although Ghana has set up many laws and acts against child labor, such as the Child Protection Compact and the Worst Forms of Labor acts, many children still find themselves forced into harsh labor conditions rather than attending school and receiving a proper education.

The Child Labor Coalition website tells a story of a young boy whose father sold him to human traffickers because there was no money for his education. Lake Volta, the area the child was sold into, is known for forced child labor and actively ignoring Ghana’s current laws against such dreadful circumstances. The children are usually made to work anywhere between 10-20 hours per day, are terribly abused and fed very little.

As terrifying as this is, educational reform in Ghana is the key to a brighter future for these children. It is the answer to ending child labor and lowering dropout rates. Ensuring that Ghanaian children are provided with more opportunities and prospects will allow the country of Ghana to flourish, keeping children and their families happier and healthier while providing a safer environment for all of Ghana.

– Rebecca Lee

Photo: Flickr