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Youth volunteers help provide desks and chairs for Ghanaian school without furniture

Before VSO ICS youth volunteers arrived at Mwofo Roman Catholic Primary School in Jirapa, northern Ghana, pupils struggled to learn in a school without furniture.

Now, thanks to a donation of desks and chairs through a collaboration with telecoms company Tigo and the local community, ICS volunteers have made a lasting difference to the education of hundreds of students.

So many children, all on the floor

Pupils at Mwofo Primary School now have chairs and desks © Faye Goldman / VSO

Pupils at Mwofo Primary School can now learn in comfort with furniture thanks to the work of VSO ICS youth volunteers

Over 540 children attend Mwofo Roman Catholic Primary School. But until this academic year, over half of them sat on the floor for their lessons.

"Before, we had classrooms with no furniture," said Prospera Esang, headteacher.

"It was so serious that if a child did not write what you asked them to, you could do nothing because the child was on their belly.

"Plus there were so many of them, 104 children in class P1 alone, all on the floor. The children cannot write well because of their posture on the floor. How are they supposed to?”

A welcome visit

ICS volunteers at the school knew just how difficult it was for both the teachers and pupils.

But they quickly saw their opportunity to improve the children’s education when Roger Zolko-ere, retail sales supervisor for telecoms company Millicom Ghana, known locally as Tigo, came to visit.

He was researching schools in the region that could benefit from donations through the company’s corporate social responsibility education scheme. So many schools needed support, but the ICS team made a compelling case for their community.

Roger remembers: “I went to Mwofo one evening when the school had closed. I saw that the classrooms had no furniture at all.

A happy classroom of students sing with VSO ICS youth volunteers © Faye Goldman / VSO

A happy classroom of students sing with volunteers at Mwofo Primary School

"This was confirmed by volunteers who were taking some students through after-school classes. The volunteers mentioned the lack of furniture as one of the major challenges. We settled on Mwofo Primary as one of Tigo’s beneficiary schools.”

Transforming the school

ICS volunteers were determined to make sure everything went smoothly.

They followed up with the company to confirm the offer of support and coordinated with local community members to receive the delivery during the school holidays. Now, with 50 sets of desks and chairs distributed between the classrooms, Mwofo Primary has been transformed.

Prospera has been delighted with the impact on the children’s education.

“Seriously, it has changed a lot of things," she said.

"Now the children write. They are able to write well. You can also insist that they take part in a lot of exercises.

"Now that there are desks, there are spaces you can walk through to monitor the exercises while they are doing them."

Portia Ahgtuokuu, a 15-year-old pupil in class P3 agrees: "I used not to be happy.

"It was difficult to lie down and write but with the furniture, we can sit down and write and we’re very happy. Before when we were on the floor, my writing wasn’t good. Now my writing is a bit better and I can focus more on doing my work."

Children struggled to learn before the arrival of chairs and desks © Faye Goldman / VSO

Children struggled to learn before the arrival of chairs and desks

But there's more to be done...

There aren’t yet enough desks for every child at the school so Prospera is hopeful that more companies like Tigo will work with ICS volunteers to donate additional resources and build on the success so far.

“The school cannot do it on their own, especially in this community. The parent-teacher association is trying their bit but it is hard. So that is why people should help us!” said Prospera.

Roger agrees that businesses should play their part.

“We feel good that our contribution will help educate the pupils of Mwofo Primary," he said.

"Businesses should provide this kind of support to communities since they are also stakeholders in the development of community."

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