Saving independent schools in Ghana: How IDP Foundation’s COVID-19 aid helped 41,000 students return to school safely

Young students wearing masks and face shields sitting at their desks and raising their hands.

Students at Divine Covenant Academy, a low-cost private school in the IDP Rising Schools program, in Accra, Ghana, in February.

School Owner Financial Assistance provides emergency aid to private schools at low cost, helping them reopen and preventing permanent closures

It is absolutely essential that these schools and the dedicated owners who run them have the support they need to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. “

– Corina Gardner, Executive Director of the IDP Foundation

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS AND ACCRA, GHANA, June 21, 2021 / – The IDP Foundation, Inc. (IDPF), which is dedicated to encouraging and supporting lasting solutions to complex global problems, has disbursed funds emergency relief assistance to vulnerable independent low-cost private schools that are part of its Rising Schools program in Ghana.

Urgent funding was informed by an independent vulnerability assessment system applied to 144 schools by IDPF’s microfinance partner, Sinapi Aba Savings and Loans, as well as direct inquiries provided by the owners who run the schools. as well as the findings of field assessments carried out by Associates for Change (AfC), an Accra-based research and consultancy firm. The IDPF commissioned the assessment to investigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the functioning of schools and to identify the most vulnerable schools and the key areas of support needed for them to reopen and build resilience after 10 months of closure.

“Affordable private schools play a vital role in developing countries,” says Corina Gardner, Executive Director of IDPF. “It is absolutely essential that these schools and the dedicated owners who run them have the support they need to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. If these schools are not supported so that they can continue to operate during this time of crisis – a period when the public school system cannot easily absorb additional students – it would mean an increase in the number of out-of-school students, an unacceptable result and we must do everything possible to prevent it.

According to school year data from the Ghana Ministry of Education’s 2019/2020 Basic National Profile, 48% of schools, or about 39,000 that enroll children from kindergarten to high school, are private. Thirty-seven percent of all students in Ghana are enrolled in a private school of any kind. It is estimated that 40% of private schools in Ghana are low cost private schools.

Highlights of the AfC assessment, conducted in two stages (before reopening and three months after reopening), included findings that around 15% of the low-cost private schools it assessed were at risk of bankruptcy. imminent while 65% risked closing. unless they receive urgent financial support. The report also showed that the vast majority of these schools received very little, if any, government support related to COVID-19 during the closures.

To alleviate the financial pressure facing schools, the IDPF launched an immediate relief effort facilitated by Sinapi Aba Savings and Loans. More than 140 schools serving 41,000 students have received needs-based grants, based on Sinapi Alba’s assessments. This funding is likely to have reached over 900 teachers: 66% of grant applications cite support for teacher salaries as a primary need for reopening. Other needs identified included: responding to 10 months of dilapidated buildings and vehicles; replacement of classroom furniture and teaching / learning materials; individual protection equipment; and canteen items.

In addition, schools with active loans from the IDPF Rising Schools program were exempt from any interest accrued during the 11-month loan leave period through a direct payment to Sinapi Aba by the IDPF. While it is common practice for rescheduled loans to continue to earn interest, this would have been a significant financial burden on homeowners. The IDPF viewed this aid as crucial in supporting the efforts of these determined owners to reopen their schools.

“As a result of conversations with the owners of the Rising Schools program, it became very clear that financial relief was needed to ensure that these schools can reopen and continue to serve the communities they are so determined to support,” said said Stephen Caleb Opuni, Country Director for the IDP Foundation in Ghana. “It is our top priority to help these schools now so that during this time of recovery and beyond, they can continue to educate the children whose parents depend so heavily on them. As we all think about the growing need for resilience in order to sustain education for the next generation, we must continue to develop sustainable edu-finance models that can exist as part of government education.

During the post-reopening assessment, AfC noted that 50% of low-cost private schools had low initial enrollment rates because many students moved to a public school or, in some cases, did not. returned to school due to work or pregnancy. The report noted that only 5% of school students accessed Ghana’s e-learning channel during COVID-19 shutdowns, while 11% and 18% accessed radio learning channels and from television.

Gardner of the IDPF says the impact of the closures on learning outcomes and enthusiasm to attend school could be catastrophic. “While the IDPF is committed to meeting the immediate financial needs of affordable private schools to build resilience and assist in their reopening, the learning loss crisis is likely to be a long-term problem requiring attention. collective response, ”Gardner said. “There is a lot to do in the months and years to come. More than ever, education needs everyone to rebuild itself. Low-cost independent private schools in developing countries can – and should – play a role in the long-term recovery of the COVID-19 pandemic. “

About the IDP Foundation Rising Schools Program
Established in 2008, IDPF is a non-profit family foundation that focuses on supporting the function of low-cost private schools to improve access to quality education in the developing world through action, advocacy and alliances. A central part of the foundation’s philanthropic work is to participate in building a sustainable educational ecosystem through a market-based approach that partners with local microfinancers to support independent school owners with low-cost loans. interest rates and relief grants as well as management and teacher training programs. Since the creation of its Rising Schools program in 2008 with microfinance partner Sinapi Aba Savings and Loans, the IDP Foundation has supported 690 homeowners whose schools serve more than 150,000 students in Ghana.

Victoria taylor
Wells Narrative Group
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Covid-19 relief support from the IDP Foundation

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