The Otumfuo Education Fund which has been in existence for about 20 years has been a game-changer in the transformation agenda of the Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II.
So far, 301,980 students have received full scholarships and bursaries.
They include 25,756 people who have received full scholarships to pursue education at various levels and 276,224 others who received some form of financial support ranging from, bursaries for part payment of fees, accommodation, stationery, clothing transportation and airfare as well as admission examination fees.
The Executive Director of the Foundation, Dr Thomas Agyarko-Poku, told the Daily Graphic that majority of the beneficiaries were from deprived areas of the country.
They included 68.5 per cent males and 31.5 per cent females.
Although Otumfuo Osei Tutu started off with education, he later expanded his development programmes to include four other thematic areas namely, health, culture and heritage, water and sanitation.
Otumfuo Charity Foundation
The expansion of the Asantehene’s development initiatives culminated in the establishment of the Otumfuo Charity Foundation under which all the various schemes operate.
Otumfuo’s wife, Lady Julia, is a patron of the Otumfuo Charity Foundation.
The Charity Foundation seeks to improve on the lives of Ghanaians by implementing the ideas, values and vision of the Asantehene and the nation, and also help to transform Africa.
At the end of 2017, about 74.8 per cent of the beneficiaries were in Junior High Schools and Senior High Schools (JHSs and SHSs), while the rest were in teacher and nursing training schools and universities.
Infrastructural and educational materials
About 780 schools throughout the country have benefited from the Foundation’s infrastructural development.
The support included 40 fully -completed six-classroom blocks and a teacher bungalow with support from the World Bank, roofing of 110 classrooms, renovations including cementing of floor, complete replacement of doors and windows, and the provision of 980,000 school desk to 198 schools across the country.
In addition, over 1,000,000 school children and 400 schools have benefited from the distribution of assorted educational materials including textbooks, exercise books, pens, erasers, computers, television sets mathematical sets, and reading books.
National Teachers Awards
Dr Agyarko-Poku noted that an awards scheme for teachers and educational workers was yielding dividends.
The awards instituted in 2009 sought to motivate and recognise the commitment of teachers and non-teaching staff of the Ghana Education Service who in the course of their duty go through challenging conditions but still made meaningful contributions towards teaching and learning.
“Otumfuo wants to see teachers accept postings to the rural areas, using the awards scheme as a major vehicle. Thus, the award specifically targets basic school teachers working in deprived communities across the country,” the Executive Director said.
Every year, he said, 100 teachers are awarded and so far 600 teachers from all the regions of the country have received awards.
Mobile Learning Project
Another aspect of the educational agenda being pursued by the Charity Foundation is the Otumfuo Mobile Learning Project (OMLP).
“The project was borne out of solutions to the challenges the foundation unearthed during its operations in the rural areas of the country.
Gross inequality in the distribution of educational materials was found to be one of the major obstacles to effective teaching and learning in most parts of the country.
Computers donated to some schools by the Foundation were found idle after 10 years for either lack of qualified teachers or electricity to power them,” he said.
To tackle the challenge, the OMLP has designed as a stopgap measure to providing access to the less fortunate children in deprived communities, similar learning conditions as children in urban and endowed communities have.
Each Mobile Learning Team is equipped with a mobile van, Pick-up 4×4 vehicle, large quantities of reading and customised exercise books, 50 pieces of computer laptops, two desktop computers, two power generator sets, two LCD projectors, one Video camera, a projector screen, a set of audiovisual materials, cooking utensils and beddings.
“Communities are selected based on the needed assessment periodically conducted by the project coordinator.
Besides, each paramountcy is expected to officially submit requests for the services of the OMLP. Individuals and other communities may as a matter of necessity send a request.
“Communities without electricity are often the most preferred. Traditional authorities facilitate community entry. On a visit to a community, the traditional authorities are put on notice; who or their representative receive the team and in collaboration with the officials of the Ghana Education Service, decide on the beneficiary schools and communities.
Since its inception in August 2014, the OMLP has offered services in Ashanti, Eastern, Central, Volta and the former Brong Ahafo regions.