- One of the most underdeveloped parts of Ghana is the Gushegu district which is occupied by 400 small villages with a population of around 126,000.
- Education in this region is very poor. Only half of children go to primary school and many of these do not finish. Of those who do 80% cannot read fluently, often due to overcrowded classes and a lack of resources and well-trained teachers. Only 15% of boys and 2% of girls go to secondary school and many finish with results too poor to offer many job or further education opportunities. This then impacts the development of the district.
- Around 35% of all children under-5 are malnourished and 10% are severely malnourished although there is no famine. This is mainly due to a lack of knowledge about healthy balanced nutrition and when to introduce normal food to babies in addition to breastmilk.
- Providing accessible quality education and tackling malnutrition are therefore the focus of PartnerAid’s local partner, Project Share, through their two projects: Neesim Primary School and Neesim Nutrition Centre.
Neesim Primary School
- Neesim Primary School aims to meet the educational needs of the three surrounding villages, and also to function as a model school for quality education in the district.
- The school has eight classes (Primary 1 to 6, and Kindergarten 1 and 2), 267 pupils and thirteen teaching staff. It is founded upon Christian beliefs, but pupils from all religious backgrounds are welcome. Each child at the school is able to attend for the minimal price of 80p per month. It actually costs £8 per month per child but this would be unaffordable.
- Neesim Primary School lays a strong focus on foundational skills for reading and maths, through teaching in the local language in the early years, developing resources, and enhancing all learning skills through play. They also try to use different methods of discipline than the beating common in schools in Ghana.
- Neesim Primary School invests a lot into teacher training. They provide both in-service training and access to formal distance-learning courses for their teaching staff.
- Close management of the teaching staff means that simple things such as punctuality, attendance and lesson planning make Neesim Primary School stand out from the other schools in the district.
- From May 2015, the school’s library began to open outside school hours to offer opportunities to read and watch educational documentaries to both the school’s pupils and the wider community.
- In September 2015, Neesim Junior High School (JHS) will open, which is a further three years after primary education. Our partner is currently working to complete a new classroom block for the JHS and to fundraise for the teacher’s salaries.
Neesim Nutrition Centre
- Neesim Nutrition Centre provides vital rehabilitation to malnourished children alongside education for their mothers on healthy nutrition and hygienic living.
- Typically they treat children with either body wasting due to the late introduction of complementary feeding or the failure to provide a balanced diet, or oedema (body swelling) due to a specific lack of protein. However they have also begun to treat an increasing number of small babies whose mothers have died or are unable to breastfeed.
- So far over 400 mothers and children have come to stay at the centre. Most stay for an average of 6 weeks and the transformation in the children can be incredible. Just as importantly, after hearing about healthy nutrition and hygiene, and practicing it at the centre, the mothers leave equipped to care for their families well.
- Neesim Nutrition Centre also conducts outreaches into the local communities to provide education on nutrition and to screen for malnourished children.
- In July 2015 a borehole was sunk to provide clean piped water to the nutrition centre, school and local community.
Somed’s* mother died and he was sent to live with his grandmother who struggled to care for him. When Somed was 9 months old she brought him to Neesim Nutrition Centre. He weighed just 6.5 kg. Somed was put on a special milk diet before transitioning to normal locally-available foods. Within two months he weighed 8.4kg. On the day of discharge his Grandmother said “kokoduunim shiri neeri kpimba” (the nutrition centre people can resurrect the dead!). *assumed name