In Nkwantanum in the Central Region, a 55-year-old teacher is providing free private basic education to about 300 children in the Upper Denkyira West municipality.

Headmistress and founder of the Twumwaa Educational center, Madam Patricia Fosu Larbi, started her charity project after it became apparent that the parents of these children could not afford to pay the 30 cedis per term for school fees.

“I thought they were doing it intentionally. But I came to realize that some of them have migrated from the northern part of the country to farm here. And cocoa farming is a seasonal one. So till the next harvesting season, their finances are not good”.

An assessment carried out by the education office in partnership with some NGOs indicates that only 0.5% of school pupils at the primary level in the area, can read, write and understand; far lower than the national average of 2%.

According to Madam Larbi, this is partly because; students leave the school premises during break and never return, thus truncating their learning process.

 “Because they’d go to school and after the break, all of them will go to their house leaving the school building alone.”

Access to education in Ghana remains a major challenge. 

According to UNICEF, nearly 623,500 children of primary school age are still not enrolled in school, and one out of four children in the kindergarten age range (i.e. four to five years) are not in pre-school.

But the situation appears to be far worse in rural Ghana, many school children Walk miles to attend school. But even that is for those whose parents can afford it.

The Twumwaa educational center was set up in 2012 by Madam Larbi to provide quality basic education to children especially the girl child in the Nkwantanum area after she realized the standard of education in the area was very low.

“I started with four children, and now it’s (the children are) 270, from Nursery One to Primary Six.”

She added, “we are trying our very best to improve the standard of education especially for the girl child.  We have the girls’ club and the boys’ club where we teach these children all about life”.

“So we’re planning with the girls to learn some crafts in the school so they can do something, sell it, and get some money in case they want something and their parents can’t afford”

All 270 pupils at the Twumwaa educational center are schooling for free.

Madam Patricia has been a pupil-teacher for 39 years. She had hopes of becoming a top-notch educationist in the country.

However, in her quest to upgrade herself and work towards her dream, Madam Larbi was involved in a tragic accident. This was a major setback for her.

She now limps and has to deal with the aftermath of that incident. But that tragedy did not succeed in quenching her desire to teach.

She has very dedicated teachers who share her vision.

One teacher had this to say about her, “the woman is good. And also she is kind to the teachers. She has a passion for education.”

 In addition to that, her four daughters who are highly educated help her in running the school.

To keep her teachers motivated, Aunty Ama as the town people call her, said she uses proceeds from other businesses and her farm to support the school.

But the school faces closure due to its poor infrastructure. Joy News’ Ernest Manu spoke with the District Director of Education.

He said, “we have consulted he. when we’re doing training we do invite her.  So that those children will not be lacking other things…the structure is not the best. You cannot put children in that structure, I’ve been there, and I told her if she doesn’t take care I’ll close the school.”

Madam Patricia is worried all her efforts may go down the drain. She’s therefore managed to save some money and has laid the foundation for a three classroom block. She hopes to transfer Primary 1 to 3 pupils from the wooden structure once completed.

Currently, the students only pay one cedi 50 pesewas for both transportation and feeding daily.

She and beneficiary parents are making a passionate appeal to the general public for support for the sake of the children.

But until then her hopes of seeing these children succeed, break barriers and become prominent in society, remains alive.

The next time you drive through Denkyira Obuasi or Nkwantanum, make a stop at the Twumwaa educational center and support this selfless vision of shaping lives.   

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