Mechanical Engineer by trade; Education volunteer by choice

Mechanical Engineer by trade; Education volunteer by choice

Kwame is a member of calfordseaden’s M&E Engineering team based in Orpington and is a charismatic team member who takes great pride in his work. During his two years at the Practice he has risen to the position of Senior Mechanical Engineer.

Kwame’s background is rather different to his colleagues; growing up on the outskirts of one of Ghana’s large cities, Kumasi, he had access to the mainstream schools but in his younger years benefitted from an education provided by charitable volunteers from the Presbyterian Church of Ghana. As a beneficiary of this type of education, Kwame was able to attend university and study for his degree.

Now a qualified M&E Engineer, Kwame feels passionately about the charity that gave him so much and spends a great deal of time working with them to bring education to children in Africa.

Building Schools and Minds

African countries like Ghana have changed dramatically in recent years, this is in part due to the work charities, like the Presbyterian Church of Ghana are doing in remote areas. Their work is built on a foundation of volunteers donating their time, as opposed to their money, to bring education to some of the most remote areas in Africa. Currently, they have 34 projects running with full time support provided by a team of volunteers.

The survival of the education projects relies heavily on local people getting involved in the projects and continuing the work after the volunteers leave. This is why Kwame believes that education rather than money is the key to the survival of the projects.

During Kwame’s six week visit to the small village of Abetifi in Ghana this summer, he taught maths and science to the students at the local school the church had helped to build. ‘I’m not a teacher; I don’t get given a syllabus. You try teaching a topic, and if they don’t understand you scrap it and try another one’, Kwame explains. Volunteers and locals are briefed by charity co-ordinators, who live in the villages where the projects are active on the type of information that is appropriate to teach. The Ghanaian Government and the Ministry of Education have a curriculum in place, but as the volunteers are not trained teachers they are unable to follow this.

Opposition to Free Education

In the remote villages of Ghana the local people are unable to see the benefit education can bring. The production of raw materials is the biggest money maker and families expect their children to follow their footsteps into this trade. A major part of the church’s role is to educate the locals on the benefits of education, but it is a tough job.

More work is needed to be done to bring facilities to remote villages, including hospitals. Kwame explains ‘when young people go off to the city to learn, they don’t want to return to a village that doesn’t have even basic facilities. The cities are becoming bloating as more and more people move away from the villages’.

For now however, the church’s priority is providing sustainable schools so that in time, they are able to hand them over to the control of the Government. So far, Kwame has helped to build 15 schools that are running successfully.