The first Alma Mater Education school was opened in the town of Wioso, Ashanti Region, Ghana in September of 2015. The location was selected with the support of our local partners, The Ghana Education Service and the Kumasi Institute of Tropical Agriculture, as an area particularly in need of educational support. There are no Senior Schools within 20 miles and as much as 90% of the local children will not go beyond primary school.
Over the next four years, with ongoing donor support, we have expanded the buildings to include 9 classrooms, a large library, office buildings, toilets and a kitchen area. We intend to develop this over the next 12 months by converting three of the classrooms into a science lab, and ICT suite and a home economics room.
Last year, with the support of The Toni Garrn Foundation and Ieng-Group we constructed a large dormitory for 80 girls, who otherwise live too far away from the site to attend as day students. This facility means that from Sept 2019 we will be able to offer an additional safe space for young girls who would otherwise not be able to gain an education.
We began in 2015 charging moderate fees of about $100 a term to half the students, so as to allow the remaining to attend on scholarships. While this worked, it became apparent that we needed to focus on those who absolutely could not afford to pay at all, as fee-paying uptake began to fall off in the third year.
Our amended model for financial self sufficiency, in order to not be reliant on continued donor support, now centers around the farm which has been developed for export by Lanfrey Farming. This commercial operation have invested heavily in developing the farm supporting the school through a rental agreement and a profit share arrangement. It is this commercial partnership that we hope to develop going forward to prove our concept and to build more schools with, and aim to be fully self-sufficient under this arrangement by 2021.