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.


In the Ghana CBE Programme from 2014– 2018, nine other CSOs/NGOs joined in the implementation of the model after being trained by SfL. Read more about our past and current interventions below.  


From 1995 to date, DANIDA and our Danish Partner, Ghana Venskab (GV) has been the major funding partners 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.

To date, SfL implemented the Functional Literacy Programme now Complementary Basic Education (CBE) in over 17 Districts across the Northern Upper East and Upper West Regions of Ghana, with funding from DANIDA, DFID, USAID and 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  and mentoring, support, provision of basic materials and food to needy girls and boys from deprived families.

SfL also implemented CBE under the Ghana Complementary Basic Education Programme, funded by DFID and USAID in 8 Districts in Northern Region from 2014 to 2018.

Owing to the significant impact of the CBE Programme, UNICEF also supported SfL to implement CBE in the Savelugu District between 2011 and 2015.

UNICEF further funded CBE implementation in the Builsa North and South Districts in 2015.

Furthermore, SfL partnered with TZEDEK, a UK-based NGO, to implement the Education Quality Initiative Project in 8 Districts in the Northern Region of Ghana between 2013 to 2017. The Project was aimed at contributing to improve quality education in selected Primary Schools.


Currently, DANIDA and Ghana Venskab continue to support SfL operations through  the Empowerment for Life (E4L) Programme. Under this Programme, SfL together with other Partner organisations GDCA, CLIP and YEfL Ghana are implementing the E4L Programme in 6 districts in the Northern Region. SfL is responsible for the Education Thematic area of the Programme.


The Education thematic area aims at promoting Equity, Access and Quality Education and increasing Civil Society Organisation's contribution to improved distribution and use of resources in education

SfL is also currently implementing the Community Volunteer Teacher Project in Partnership with T2T International a UK based organisation with funding from the Foreign, Commonwealth Development Office (FCDO). The Project seeks to provide a pathway for ambitious but disadvantaged young people in deprived communities to become Community Volunteer Teachers (CVTs), and also create a rich learning environment for their students to learn to read, write and think for themselves.


School for Life worked in 10 districts in the Northern, North East and Savannah  Regions (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 Savannah and North East 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 six (Saboba, Kumbungu, Mion, Savelugu, Karaga and Tolon ). 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.