At the Community Nursery and Library in Kikam, the children are sleeping on the concrete floor while using questionable toilet facilities. There is not enough money to pay the teachers and maintain the buildings. The CEO of UCSOND made a donation to help the nursery, but a lot more help is needed.
It was a big day for the community members of Kikam when a new Community Nursery and Library was opened almost twenty years ago, by the NGO, 31st of December Women´s Movement. Everyone in the community was happy to get a new nursery for their children, and they had great hopes for the future of the institution. Today the excitement has faded away, as has the condition of the once new nursery buildings. Nothing has really happened since the opening of the nursery twenty years ago. As a result, the classrooms are now worn out, and the toilets are old and smelly. There is no money for maintenance.
» We don’t even have money to by chalk for the blackboard or to provide the children with books,« says Vida Eshun, one of three teachers at Kikam Community Nursery and Library.
The idea behind the nursery was that it should be running itself with the school fees provided by the parents every three months. With the forty children currently enrolled in the school that makes 400 cedi to cover all expenses, which is far from enough. Since the nursery was initially an NGO project, the three teachers are not entitled to be on government payroll. They are therefore coming to work everyday without receiving a sufficient salary for their work.
» We keep on going to work every morning because we are all mothers that have compassion for the children. If the children were not here, where should they then go? Who would then look after them?« says Vida Eshun.
Using what they have
The nursery buildings haven’t been maintained properly over the years because of the limited finance. As a result of this, the water system doesn’t work anymore, and the whole school is slightly falling apart. There are no chairs in the classrooms for the children to sit on, so they have to sit on the floor when the teachers try to teach them the ABC. The teachers have no choice but to try to manage with the limited resources they have in hand.
» We try to do the best we can, with what we have, there is nothing else we can do,« says Vida Eshun.
Cecilia Opon has two of her children enrolled in the nursery and she is very grateful for the work that the teachers are doing despite the financial constraints they are facing. She is concerned about the condition of the nursery, but is still happy to hand over her children to the teachers every morning before she goes to the market to sell fish.
» I think the teachers treat the children very well here, even though the conditions are poor. But they really need some assistance from outside to make the school function better,« she says.
Assembly member Edward Arthur is aware of the bad condition of the nursery, but he explains that the Assembly can’t assist the teachers with support since the nursery is still owned by the NGO, 31st December Women’s Movement.
» As it is right now I see only two solutions to this problem. Either another NGO should take over the nursery, or the 31st December Women’s Movement should give the government permission to manage the nursery in the future,« he says.
A spokesperson from the 31st December Women’s Movement says that they know about the financial problems that the nursery is facing. It is not just in Kikam that a nursery lacks money, but a lot of similar institutions all over the country have the same problem. According to the spokesperson from 31st December Women’s Movement part of the problem has to do with bad management since the nurseries where supposed to manage themselves with the collected school fees.
The 31st December Women’s Movement are currently looking for a way to solve the problem, but the spokesperson wouldn’t go into details on what the NGO specifically would do to assist the nursery in Kikam.
Donation from UCSOND
When CEO of UCSOND, Wisdom Quaiku, found out about the poor conditions at the nursery, he decided to help the teachers. He donated 5 mats to the school so that children no longer had to take their nap on the cold concrete floor, and he provided the nursery with two buckets and toilet rolls to improve the conditions of the toilet.
The teachers and the Assembly member were all very grateful for this generous donation, but it was clear to everyone that the Kikam Community Nursery and Library needed a lot more support and help to bring the school back to the state it was in when it was opened twenty years ago.