Kwesi Koomson was born in the village of Essiam in the Central Region of Ghana, 60 miles form the country’s capital of Accra. Essiam is a collection of bare cinder-block dwellings with tin roofs. It is a rare family that makes more than $2 a day. When Kwesi was a boy, his bright personality and intellect were recognized with special scholarships to prep schools in England and college and graduate school in the US. He now teaches, along with Melissa, at The Westtown School, a Quaker school near West Chester, Pannsylvania.In 2004, Kwesi returned to his home village with the intent of starting a small school. He started his school in a church with 32 students and the Heritage Academy was born. Ironically, his initially “small school” idea has grown tremendously in scope, size and success. In 2011, the Heritage Academy enrollment stands at 1,057.
Unfortunately, the public school system in Ghana is severely under-funded and generally under-performs. It is overwhelmed with an estimated 50% of the Country’s 24 million population under the age of 15. Most children do not go beyond junior high. Good quality secondary school is extremely difficult to be accepted into and is expensive. Furthermore, the educational system is based on the old English system of rote memorization and rigid adherence to nationalized standardized tests, a vestige of colonial rule. Students must pass the Basic Education Certificate Exam (BECE) at the end of junior high to go on to secondary school. Most students do not pass.
Kwesi has noted, “There are so many people in my village and all throughout Ghana just like me, people who could do really great things, but they just never get the chance.”
I myself have met Kwesi in America and decided to come to Ghana for a year to teach and volunteer at Heritage Academy. However, upon arrival I came to realize that although the school has been having tremendous success, most graduates are unable to pursue their love of learning into secondary schooling because funding is too low and college is too expensive. It is for this reason that I started this gofundme, which is set up to create a college fund for students at Heritage Academy. By creating this fund I'm hoping to give more students the opportunity to get a college degree which in return will give them the opportunity to eventually give back to the local community as a college degree in Ghana brings immense prosperity to the individual as well as their close relatives and friends.
Any amount of money helps and is more than appreciated.