Monday, October 11, 2010

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Building Fund Completes Library in Ghana

The Building Fund is happy to announce the completion of the temporary library at the Young Apostles International School. With a donation from TBF the Young Apostles School of Daban Panin was able to construct tables, chairs, and shelving to house the large donation of books from Books For Africa. The library officially opened on Friday, July 16, 2010.

To celebrate the opening of the library the students, parents and community of Daban Panin gathered for a ceremony. The school will now be one of very few in the Kumasi area with a library. The library will not only benefit members of the school, but also students, teachers and parents of the larger community who wish to further their education.

Monday, July 12, 2010

TBF Goes Live on Stuff Your Rucksack

The Building Fund recently joined more than 100 projects across the globe on is an online community that helps responsible travelers make a practical difference to the lives of those in developing countries that have so little, and deserve so much more. Visit their website to learn more!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Reaching the Poorest

A recent article in The Economist (Reaching the Poorest, January 23rd 2010) questions the effectiveness of a recent push to increase funding to schools in the developing world. The article suggest that getting children into school is only the first step towards education and underlying issues of teacher absenteeism, students retention, and rural access deserve greater attention.

Although the number of unenrolled school-age children dropped by 33mm in the years between 1999 and 2007, nearly 50% of those children enrolled in school were in India. In sub-Saharan Africa 45% of the worlds 72mm remain unenrolled in school. Furthermore, the greatest drop in unenrolment came in the short time between 2002 and 2004, without significant change since that time.

“In Ghana, sixth-graders sitting a simple multiple-choice reading test scored on average the same mark that would be gained by random guessing.”
The difficulty of enrolling children from remote areas, as well as those speaking a minority language or from communities long excluded from education is stagnating the process. The article offers that increased funding is not a solution. In developing countries low-cost for-profit schools routinely out-perform the free or tax-payer subsided school. Teachers are more committed and parents complain if standards slip. Another option is performance-related pay for teachers. The idea, which has been tested in India, saw the extra pay to be three times more effective in boosting students test scores than spending the same money on teaching materials.

In order to meet the goals of the UN’s “Education For All” initiative, multiple approaches to increasing school enrolment in developing countries must be explored. It is not enough to build a school if the teachers do not come to teach or if the students do not understand the language of the teacher. Greater attention must be paid to the complexities of education and new solutions developed to increase access to education.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Illegal Chocolate?

Not many people ask themselves when they sink their teeth into a delicious, creamy piece of chocolate: "I wonder if the workers who helped to produce this treat were properly treated?". Recent reports by the Department of Labor have highlighted the gruelling conditions that workers face on the cocoa plantations in West Africa. "Illegal", "slavery" and "human trafficking" are among many words used to describe the setting. Ghana supplies nearly 60% of the world's chocolate, many workers being between the ages of 11 and 16. Although many exporters claim to have been unaware of the 12-hour long days, inhumane conditions with no pay and no education given to workers, not much has been done to improve the situation. Measures have been taken to ameliorate the conditions, however the upcoming reports have skeptics telling you "I told you so" when you read an article about a five-year old boy from Ghana who is among the staff.

I highly recommend the article "Blood and Chocolate" found at for your review. Please share with friends, family and coworkers to help enforce (child) labor laws and secure basic human rights. Until this becomes a legal work situation, chocolate won't taste so good anymore... Please help take action!

New Placement System Becomes Controversy

Recently, a new system for student placement into schools was initiated. This new system focuses solely on raw exam scores, throwing away an older system that relied heavily on students' grades. Complaints arose when students gained high marks but low raw scores and were thusly not accepted into schools. Now, grades don't matter! Before, grades alone would get a student accepted into a school.

The emphasis on testing/raw scores above grades became a deciding factor for Ghana, and little discussion took place on behalf of the Ministry of Education and the Ghana Education Service to inform parents of their decision. Controvery emerged most recently when many kids were still not placed into schools due to low raw scores, and school is starting very very soon...!

To read more about this topic, please read the article "Ghana: Addressing Computer Placement Challenges" at

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

TBF Award Grant

For the second year in a row TBF has been awarded a grant from The Nathan Cummings Foundation. The Nathan Cummings Foundation is rooted in the Jewish tradition and committed to democratic values and social justice, including fairness, diversity, and community. The Foundation seeks to build a socially and economically just society that values nature and protects the ecological balance for future generations; promotes humane health care; and fosters arts and culture that enriches communities. The Building Fund is appreciates the continued support of The Nathan Cummings Foundation!

For more about the Nathan Cummings Foundation please click here.