Our Children's Future

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Our Children's Future: School feeding and teacher incentive program to ensure a bright future

Kumasi, GhanaKumasi, Ghana
Year Founded:
2013
Project Stage:
Scaling
Budget: 
$100,000 - $250,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

Creation of a school feeding program, the income from which will go towards a teacher supervision initiative which monitors if teachers are coming to class everyday. Teachers are on weekly rotation to supervise their colleagues, and will receive a cash stipend if attendance is >80%.

WHAT IF - Inspiration: Write one sentence that describes a way that your project dares to ask, "WHAT IF?"

there was always a teacher ready to teach
About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

On any given day, a little less than 60% of full-time teachers turn up to school in Nkontomire. This phenomenon is hugely detrimental to the children who study in these schools, resulting in below average test scores and decreased chances of passing the national high school admissions exam, which is already notoriously difficult to pass in Ghana. Teacher absenteeism is (sadly) a systemic issue that plagues many rural communities around the world.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

There are 16 full-time teachers in the Kindergarten, Primary and Middle Schools of Nkontomire Region. Every week, four of these teachers will be “supervisors”, who, along with 2 members of our design team, will go around to every class room, morning and afternoon, to take teacher attendance. Not only will they be looking for a teacher standing physically in the room, they will also be making sure that he or she is actively engaged with the class and is actually teaching. At the end of this week, if there is over 85% teacher attendance, then the four “supervisory” teachers will be given 25 cedis in financial reward – 25 cedis being the amount of money it costs to go back and forth from school on public transport in a week.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

If teacher A is a supervisor and has spent 25 cedi one week to come to school every day, and teachers B, C and D don’t show up, causing there to be a sub-85% attendance rate, then teacher A would not get reimbursed and therefore would probably not want to show up to weeks where B, C or D are supervising, to ensure that they also don’t get reimbursed. It is therefore in everyone’s best interest to show up over 85% of the time so that they may get one week of free transportation every month.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

The program was passed with the attendance of Nkontomire parents and the district education chief in the last week Caroline and I were in Nkontomire, in mid August. Last week, in the attendance of the full PTA and parents from neighboring villages who also send their children to Nkontomire public schools (40-50% of students commute from neighboring villages every day), the program was finalized and has officially started. The school feeding program has provided employment for 10 community members to date and the attendance of teachers has greatly increased. Our target attendance rate however, has not been achieved. The subsidies that we offer our teachers are not high enough to incentivize them to come to school ever day.

Spread Strategies: Moving forward, what are the main strategies for scaling impact?

Unfortunately, this project should ideally work itself out of business. There is no need for this incentive program and indeed it should not even exist. However, the potential impact of scaling up this program is to but the power of change into the hands of communities. There is no time for parents and students to wait for the government to step in and make systematic changes from the top to increase teacher attendance. This program has a model that is replicable across the world in other rural communities. In the long run, we hope to push for educational reform for teacher supervision.
Sustainability

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

Necessity to ensure that food-sellers are not run out of business and that the school feeding program will continue to function. Necessary to keep a high enrollment in the school feeding program >90% so as to ensure that the problem of free-riders is avoided.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

No other grassroots project is addressing the same problem. Teacher absenteeism has always been an issue relegated to education policy, to be addressed by the "big players" at the "top". There has not been a community-centered, private sector solution to teacher absenteeism before ours.
Team

Founding Story

Caroline (my team mate) and I set off to speak to teachers at a rural school near us about the possibility to teaching a few classes. We got there and saw that there was not a single teacher in the entire Primary or Middle school divisions, and swarms of students approached us, evidently still eager to learn, and asked us to teach them.
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