AME believes that education is a fundamental right of every child, and that the problem of educational attainment is most pressing in rural areas. We further believe that a truly transferable educational model needs to pay close attention to the realities of rural life, while being economically and ecologically self-sufficient.
Almost sixty percent of children in rural Ghana will not gain any qualifications after primary level. This sixty percent find themselves in a cycle termed: the 'Poverty Trap.'
The problem is further exacerbated in rural communities where families rely almost exclusively on agriculture. Seeking a subsistence living out of smallholder cultivation often results in families living on less than $2 per day.
We began in 2015 charging moderate fees of about $100 a term for half the students, allowing the other half, from the very rural areas, to attend on scholarships. While this worked well it became apparent that we really needed to focus on those who absolutely could not afford to pay at all and fee-paying uptake began to fall off in the third year.
Last year with the support of the Toni Garrn Foundation, the Ieng-Group, and Lanfrey Farming we took the decision to go “fully free.” We focused on developing a boarding facility to offer education to those from the more remote communities while commercializing the farm to help with running costs.
We began renting 17 acres of the farm to Lanfrey Farming, who invested heavily to develop a commercial export farm. The terms of the agreement were an annual rental tied to the purchase price of the land as well as a 20% profit share. Alongside this Lanfrey Farming were to take over all costs associated with running the five acre school farm, including additional infrastructure investment and all staff costs. This now accounts for roughly one third of all running costs of the school, and with the first export of organic moringa due in Europe in 2019, we are optimistic for this contribution to increase.
At the time of making this strategic move we were extremely fortunate to begin working with the Toni Garrn Foundation, who understood our vision. Through the foundation Ms. Garrn has donated heavily to help construct a large girls hostel on site so that we can accommodate 80 students from Sept 2019. TGF also supported us with a further contribution to running costs this year as the farm was developed. Between her support and LF, as well as our existing donors we have been able to secure the provision of free education at Wioso for the immediate future.
Ieng-Group had recently begun partnering with TGF and they were looking for a project to embark on together. We were very fortunate that they saw the need for a girls hostel at our site and built one for us last year, meaning that we can now offer safe and secure fee-free education to 80 girls from the most remote local communities who can not currently attend day-school.
Our aim is to develop a model for a self-sufficient school in rural Africa, using export farming as tool to generate running costs. It is our intention to prove our model by 2021, and begin work on a second site in the following year.
our approach our values
Design and implement a one-time capital cost investment into sustainable rural secondary school and farm.
Ensure long-term financial self-sufficiency of our projects without reliance on continued donor support.
Providing an education to those who would otherwise not receive one.
Combine standard formal education with farm skills training.
Encourage rural development and increased food security for the entire community.
One-time capital cost of $1 million.
Learning through the four pillars of: Academia, Personal Exploration, Social Understanding, and Community Awareness.
That youth education does not exist in a vacuum.
Recognizing the importance of nurturing the skills and experience of the local community.
Partnering and incorporating the local community wherever possible.
Placing local staff and civil society at the center of project management.