Future Island School
FUTURE ISLAND SCHOOL
It is spring 2003. Beatrice Addae and Kwabena Amponsah Ababio are worried. They have two young children, Bea is unemployed whilst Ababio is struggling to support the family with his meagre teacher's salary; they are down to their last 11,000 cedis (about €1). What they are most concerned about, though, is the future of their children, Nana and Maame Kwah. They know that without a decent education their children will almost certainly end up either farming or 'hawking' (street-selling) for a few pence a day. But they have found themselves in the same tragic predicament as so many parents, not only in Ghana but in all of Sub-Saharan Africa, of being unable to afford to send their children to school. However, Ababio and Bea have an advantage that most Ghanaian parents in their situation do not – both are educated to college level. And so Bea takes it upon herself to begin teaching Nana at home. Their neighbours take note of how successfully Nana is learning and developing and people come forward to request that Bea and Ababio take on the education of their children as well. And Future Island School is born. Ababio and Bea had already established an NGO in 2002 called Offinso Centre for the Vulnerable (OCEVU), which had the basic aim of supporting and educating vulnerable members of society. Until autumn 2003 it's main focus had been on HIV/AIDS education for young people, usually in their teens, running workshops and youth groups. Then, on 6 October 2003, its most ambitious undertaking to date, Future Island School, held its first class in a rented room of a private home. The school has not had an easy infancy. The lease of the room they were initially using was revoked after only three months but they were fortunate enough to find new premises in the form of an unfinished house donated until 2008.
In 2006, Ababio and Bea have raised funds to buy five acres of land and secure the future of the school. They start constructing a school building in 2007 and in January 2008 the school moves to the new, unfinished building. The children are now being tought in this unfinished building and construction is going on whenever money is available.
The children in Future Island School are taught how to read and write. They learn English in school, the official language in Ghana but only spoken by those who are educated. All children receive lunch in school and get enough time to play. Future Island School is very popular within the community because the school is very cheap and the educational standard is higher than the one from the government schools. Last year students of Future Island School are regularly taking exams for Junior High School succesfully. Longer-term goals include eventually building an orphanage and a Junior Secondary School on the land, but the primary school and sponsorship programmes are the more immediate goals. There is also the intention of establishing an associated business such as a computer centre and Internet café to support some of OCEVU's costs and reduce reliance on external aid. Bea and Ababio have first hand experience of what it is like to be unable to afford to send one's child to school and so their dream is that one day all parents in the community will be able to send their children to school.