SfL started in 1995, springing from cooperation on rural development between the Northern Ghana-based civil society organization, Ghana Developing Communities Association (GDCA) and a Danish NGO (the Ghana Friendship Groups in Denmark). The partners saw education as a pillar for development and at the same time realized that there were serious challenges to education performance in deprived parts of Northern Ghana.
One major challenge identified by Development Practitioners in Northern Ghana and in Denmark was the high numbers of out-of-school children, described as “the dilemma of education in Northern Ghana.” As a way of addressing the out-of-school children phenomenon, SfL developed a functional literacy programme in 1995, which has evolved to become what is now known as Complementary Basic Education (CBE).
SfL has since been implementing the model in partnership with DANIDA, USAID, DFID and UNICEF and with support from relevant Government agencies such as the Ministry of Education and the Ghana Education Service. Currently, nine other CSOs/NGOs have joined in the implementation of the model under the Ghana CBE Programme.
OPERATIONS AND FUNDING
The SfL programme has provided CBE in over 17 Districts across the Northern Upper East and Upper West Regions of Ghana, with funding from DANIDA, DFID, USAID and UNICEF.
From 1995 to date, DANIDA has been the major funding partner for SfL activities. Between 2004 and 2007, SfL expanded its operations through collaboration with Education Development Centre (EDC) to implement Complementary Education and Community Support Teacher Programmes under the Education Quality for All (EQUALL) Project with funding from USAID.
DFID joined SfL’s list of partners in 2008 under the Literacy for Life Change Project to run CBE classes in four Districts.
SfL also implemented CBE classes in the Savelugu District between 2011 and 2015 with funding from UNICEF.
Apart from direct implementation of CBE, SfL provided technical support to the Afram Plains Development Organisation and the Education Directorate of Komenda-Edina-Eguafo-Abirim District to deliver the CBE Programme.
Similarly, SfL partnered with World Education in implementing the Ambassador Girls’ Scholarship Programme from 2007 to 2011. The Programme involved giving out scholarships in the form of mentoring, provision of basic materials and food to needy girls and boys from deprived families.
Currently, SfL continues to implement CBE under the Ghana Complementary Basic Education Programme, funded by DFID and USAID in 8 Districts in Northern Region.
UNICEF continues to fund CBE implementation, shifting from Savelugu to the Builsa North and South Districts in 2015.
Furthermore, SfL is partnered with TZEDEK, a UK-based NGO, to implement the Education Quality Initiative Project in 8 Districts in the Northern Region of Ghana. The Project was aimed at contributing to improve quality education in selected Primary Schools.
DANIDA support for SfL continues in the Empowerment for Life (E4L) Programme. Here, SfL together with other GDCA units and Youth Empowerment for Life, are implementing the E4L Programme in 6 districts in the Northern Region. SfL is responsible for the Education Thematic area of the Programme.
SFL OPERATIONAL AREA
School for Life worked in 10 districts in the Northern Region (Yendi, Gushegu/Karaga, Zabzugu/Tatale, Savelugu/Nanton, Tamale rural, Saboba/Chereponi, Tolon/Kumbungu, Nanumba, East Gonja and West Mamprusi).The expanded programme covered 9 more districts ( Bole, West Gonja and East Mamprusi in the Northern region; Bongo, Talensi/Nabdam and Bawku West in the Upper East Region and Lawra, Jirapa/Lambusie and Nadowli in the Upper West Region. Most of the districts consist of small towns and rural settlements, where majority of the people are subsistent farmers or fishermen.
Currently, the coverage has been reduced all together from the total of 19 Districts as above to nine (Saboba/Chereponi, Nanumba, Tolon/Kumbungu, East Gonja, West Mamprusi, Jirapa/Lambussie, Nadowli, Central Gonja and Bawku West). The main reason that accounts for the reduced coverage is inadequate funding.
However, most rural districts remain disadvantaged and underserved. Most of the communities are inaccessible, the road network is poor and sometimes the communities are cut off from the rest of the District during the rainy season. For these and other reasons, there are no schools in these areas. Thus basic education suffers. Most of School for Life (SfL) work is in disadvantaged districts.