Visiting Bongo

18 05 2008

AGSP scholarsI’m fairly busy at work which, combined with the fact that I tend to leave my laptop in the office to avoid having to carry it back and forward, means that I haven’t been writing as much. Being busy is a fairly unusual experience for most of the volunteers here who aren’t teaching – and even the teachers have been kicking their heels for the last week or two waiting for the food budget to be released to the northern secondary schools so that they can reopen.

As I said in my last post I’ve been working a lot in Bolga, to the North of Tamale, on the AGSP project. Last week I was back in Bolga and as well as getting enough of the real data into Access (and thence Excel) I was able to give a little bit of training and spent Friday on a field trip to some of the schools we support in the Bongo district of the Upper East region. I’m not making the name up, that really is what it’s called and it’s among the poorest districts in Ghana. As we drove around people were leaving their mud hut homes to use hand held hoes to prepare the ground for planting, with a lucky few employing ploughs pulled by oxen, it felt at times like we had gone back in time hundreds of years.

The schools themselves are fairly basic, a few simple rooms containing wooden benches and a blackboard. Some had a bore hole and pump for water – I don’t think many had electricity. The children seemed like children all over the world, curious to see who it was that had driven up in a big white pickup truck, but just as eager to get back to their skipping games or football match. It seems strange that 16 or 17 year olds might still be in primary (basic) schools, but in a place where parents often can’t afford even basics like uniforms, stationery or books or even to lose the labour provided by their children pupils can lose years at a time not attending school. Many of the parents are illiterate and don’t necessarily appreciate the importance of education.

Seeing the schools and some of the scholars supported by the project makes me feel a bit more like I’m doing something worthwhile and helpful here. If I can make the job of the ISODEC people running the scheme a bit easier and perhaps enable one or two more girls to be able to attend primary or junior high (middle) school perhaps I will really be able to change a few lives for the better, and if my ISODEC colleagues feel a little more confident about using computers and are able to use spreadsheets to analyse data and other software to create effective reports and presentations making them more effective in their job my time here might actually have been useful to someone other than me.

I loaded the data about the scholars, schools, districts etc into Excel and gave a quick bit of training on using pivot charts to analyze data. Jonathon, my ISODEC colleague, was amazed and really excited to see how easy it was to get graphs showing how many scholars there were in each year group by district or gender simply by dragging dropping fields onto or off a the graph. It was really good to get some really positive feedback.





2 responses

19 05 2008

Business Intelligence in Africa….good work Tim! :-)

7 03 2009
Back to Bongo « Tim in Tamale

[…] Girl’s Scholarship Programme” (which also includes boys despite the name). I visited Bongo last March with ISODEC to visit some of the schools involved in the project, this year a couple of […]

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