Schools Proudly Report Academic Achievements

March 13, 2014

Two schools participating in the IDP Rising Schools Program report outstanding results on the BECE in Ghana.

Every year several hundred thousand Junior High School students take the Basic Education Certificate Examination in Ghana. This highly competitive exam largely determines their educational future as it selects the students who qualify to attend Senior High School as well as which school they will attend. With such high stakes, the IDP Rising Schools Program is thrilled to highligh two schools that did particularly well on the exam.

Baah Memorial Community School has thrived in the IDP Rising Schools Program. The school has taken and repaid three loans and seen its enrollment double. To help her students study for the BECE, the school’s proprietor, Lily Baah, added a boarding facility to her school to enable students to better focus outside of the classroom as well. The results of her students’ hard work and support of Baah Memorial Community School paid off. Not only did 100% of the first class of JHS 3 pupils sitting for the exam pass, but the school was ranked 2nd out of 130 schools in the district.

manUltimate Prepartory was established in 2004 and since that time has been adding levels to the school and growing its enrollment. Last year it saw its first JHS 3 class sit for the BECE. The proprietor, David, is overjoyed to report a dramatic improvement over the past year from 80% to 100% of his students passing in addition to Ultimate Preparatory’s ranking changing from 40th out of 110 schools to 19th out of 120 schools in the district. 

 With the 2014 BECE quickly approaching, the IDP Rising Schools Program is eager to witness continued success and improvement in Baah Memorial Community School, Ultimate Preparatory, and all of schools participating in the IDP Rising Schools Program.

Kumasi 002

IDP Foundation welcomes Lee Umphrey to the team                             February 5, 2013.  Lee joins the IDP Foundation as the Director of Strategic Development and Communications.  No better way to start than a visit to some schools that are part of the IDP Rising Schools Program.

Kumasi 010Kumasi 015Kumasi 018Kumasi 008

Merits of Low-Cost Private Schools Take Center Stage at Conference in South Africa
November 6, 2012

In October, the Open Society Foundations and the Privatization in Education Research Initiative co-hosted the Globalization, Regionalization and Privatization in and of Education in Africa conference held in Johannesburg, South Africa. With a goal of bringing together a range of institutions and representatives to critically debate the relative merits and demerits of privatization in and of education, the IDP Rising Schools Program (IDPRSP) team felt it was important to be represented at this important event.

The IDP Rising Schools Program was selected to present on the topic, “Low-Cost Private Schools in Ghana: The Case for Inclusion.” The presentation highlighted the current situation in Ghana, with 7,000 Low-Cost Private Schools (LCPS) educating over 500,000 children in low-income communities across the country. The case was clearly made that with 11% of communities without a school within five kilometers, Ghana government’s stated need for an additional 6,000 basic classrooms annually, and nearly 500,000 children of school going age still not enrolled, the role of the LCPS sector cannot be ignored. While there is an overt disdain for private provision as contravening the right to education, this is couched in an uninformed academic perspective, rather than reality.  Moreover, the private sector contribution to enrollment is included in Ghana’s Education for All (EFA) reporting and without private provision, which makes up 21% of all enrolments at the Basic level, Ghana would not come close to meeting its EFA targets by 2015.

Over 100 participants from international NGOs, foundations, academic institutions, education coalitions, and financial institutions came together in Johannesburg to engage in this important debate. Although the conference ended with a lack of consensus on the important role of LCPS and the need for better inclusion in national strategies and budgets if EFA is to be realized, it was a great opportunity to share opinions.  As the IDP Foundation and its partner Sinapi Aba Trust prefer to work with the poor to support their community-driven, bottom-up solutions to education, the IDP Rising Schools Program will continue to focus on the rights of communities to provide immediate access to education. Rather than expecting them to await government provision of education for all while their children suffer the consequences, the IDPRSP will continue to provide capacity-building services and access to capital to help the low-cost private schools of these communities.

Sesame Workshop Up to IDP Foundation, Inc.’s Challenge
October 25, 2012

TM and © 2012 Sesame Workshop. All rights reserved.

“I believe that Sesame Workshop is one of the greatest educators in the world for early childhood development. My vision was to partner with Sesame Workshop to see if they could be just as effective in preparing untrained teachers to create positive child-centered learning environments in some of the poorest regions in the world. I think they have done it.” – Irene Pritzker, President, IDP Foundation, Inc.

The IDP Rising Schools Program has proven that through carefully tailored loan products accompanied by specialized training in financial literacy and school management, very poor private schools in Ghana are bankable. Now, the IDP Foundation, Inc. has turned its attention to improve the quality of teaching in these low-cost private schools, whose teachers are largely untrained and have little access to professional development opportunities.

With the belief that Sesame Workshop is one of the greatest early childhood educators in the world, the President of the IDP Foundation, Inc. challenged them to explore educating a new demographic – teachers. Excited by the opportunity, Sesame Workshop partnered with IDP Foundation, Inc. to create an innovative series of ten, ten-minute videos to transform teachers’ methods from rote to child-centered.

With the production of the videos and accompanying materials complete, Sesame Workshop conducted 5 master trainings in the four regions of Ghana in which the IDP Rising Schools Program currently works. Head teachers and proprietors from each IDP Rising School gained the tools and materials to conduct step-down trainings in their schools. Each school also received Teacher Guides, math manipulables, and learning posters to facilitate creative and child-centered lesson plans.  After attending a master training in Ghana, the IDP Rising Schools Program Associate said, “To observe the teachers not only enjoy the videos and materials, but also embrace the child-centered methods through practice truly brought the project to life.”

Although research on the value of the training to teachers is not yet complete, it is clear that the partnership between the IDP Foundation, Inc. and Sesame Workshop developed a truly powerful set of tools to enhance the quality of teachers in Ghana.

E-Readers Entering Schools in Ghana
Januray 9, 2012


The IDP Rising Schools Program has effectively generated increased stability in low-cost private schools in Ghana by providing school proprietors with financial literacy training and access to credit. With this financial services track firmly established, the IDP Foundation, Inc. is now focused on finding a cutting-edge way to introduce a learning enhancement initiative. One amazing initiative the IDP Foundation, Inc. has discovered is Worldreader. With a mission to, “make digital books available to all in the developing world, enabling millions of people to improve their lives,” Worldreader is an organization that shares the IDP Foundation, Inc.’s passion for innovation and commitment to increasing educational opportunities (www.worldreader.org).

The IDP Rising Schools Program Manager at Opportunity International, Anne Hainer, recently accompanied Worldreader’s Director of Research, Zev Lowe, on a visit to one of the public schools where Worldreader has been conducting a pilot study in the Eastern Region of Ghana. At the school, Anne was able to speak with teachers and students and see the e-readers in action. The students handled the e-readers with ease and told Anne how they used them in the classroom and at home. Teachers reported seeing immense improvement in not only the students’ reading performance, but also in their engagement in class and active participation. By developing local digital content and distributing e-readers, Worldreader has truly created an innovative program to help address the developing world’s educational needs.

Sixteen Low-Cost Private Schools in Ghana Reveal One Program’s Impact
November 21, 2011

“We are grateful for you lifting us up from the valley in which we find ourselves.”

Seth Agyarko Asiamah – Proprietor of Evergreen Preparatory

Several times a year the IDP Foundation, Inc. staff travels to Ghana in order to check up on the IDP Rising Schools Program. In October, Anne Schumacher and Allison Rohner (the IDP Rising Schools Program Manager and Program Associate, respectively) visited 16 of the 103 low-cost private IDP Rising Schools in 2 of the 4 regions of Ghana where the program currently operates – Western and Brong-Ahafo. With the IDP Rising Schools Program expanding to Western Region just this year, the goal of the trip was simple: visit a variety of IDP Rising Schools, ask lots of questions, and see first-hand the program’s impact in these 16 schools.

So how does the program work? Very poor private schools who charge low school fees are selected to participate in the IDPRS program. The proprietors then partake in a 12-module training on school management and financial literacy. Additionally, caterers at the schools learn about sanitation and nutrition. After completing the training, proprietors are eligible to take a loan from Sinpai Aba Trust, our partner microfinance organization in Ghana, for such needs as infrastructure improvements or land acquisition.

Anne and Allison were deeply grateful to see the extent of the Program’s impact in the 16 schools they visited. The effect of the 12-week proprietor training was immediately clear on their visit. Proprietors reported keeping records for the first time, separating their personal finances from the finances of the school, and adding or improving feeding programs. They conveyed their enriched ability to manage their schools and confidently apply for loans through the IDPRS Program.

Their tours of these 16 schools confirmed the impact of acquiring loans that has been seen across the program. Classrooms were under construction or newly built in order to accommodate the growing number of students in these low-cost private schools. Improvements were made to existing structures to enhance the learning environment of the students, and land was acquired to make this environment permanent. Dining halls and canteens were built to feed the students the healthier and more sanitary food caterers learned to prepare in the IDPRS caterer training. In addition to their current or completed projects, proprietors eagerly told them of their plans to continue developing their schools with future loans.

The thrill of seeing how the proprietor training and loan acquisition has helped the 16 low-cost schools visited was only heightened by the excitement of the students and proprietors to meet the IDPRS team. The IDPRS Program Manager and Program Associate were honored to give the students an opportunity to hear a different English accent and humbled by the appreciation for the IDPRS Program that the proprietors expressed.

Anne Schumacher (IDPRS Program Manager) and Allison Rohner
(IDPRS Program Associate) at Unique International in Brong-Ahafo Region.

Trips such as these provide constant feedback and assurances that the work of the IDPRS Program is achieving the goal of creating a sustainable model for education in the developing world. As we watch these schools grow and prosper, we are more convinced that the school owners are creating a more stable environment into which they can introduce educational improvements. The IDPRS team is excited to be back in Chicago working on the Program’s growth!

Check out more pictures from our trip into the field on our Facebook page!

Featured IDP Rising School: Baah Memorial School
August 15, 2011

Baah Memorial School is situated in Apaaso, a suburb of Kumasi, in the Ashanti Region of Ghana. The school was started in 2005 by the proprietor, Lily Baah, at the same location where school is today. She started with 6 students who were in the nursery and later expanded to other grade levels, which is now up to JHS1 (grade 7). She is a trained teacher with a diploma and taught in a secondary school in Ghana before traveling abroad. Her dream was to come back from Israel to establish her own school so she bought lots of teaching materials from Israel. She had acquired an acre of land elsewhere where she wanted to have her school, but the land was sold to another company while she was away. When she returned after 9 years abroad, she decided to use her intended house to start the school.

The area where the school is located is a developing area so most parents who live there are squatters working as masons, farmers, or petty traders, which means they do not have regular incomes. According to the proprietor, things were not easy for her when she started the school because during her initial registration campaign she enrolled about 63 students but then only 6 showed up on the first week of school. Payment of fees was also a problem for the parents so instead of paying fees, some parents traded their farm produce for their children’s education and the proprietor used these food stuffs to prepare food for the students. She was discouraged and had decided to go back to Israel, but another school proprietor encouraged her not to go. The other proprietor, Lily’s friend, advised that she set up a second business to support the school. Lily opened a cleaning agency, which provided home cleaning services for residents in the suburbs of Kumasi to get her supplemental income to support the school. She also did house-to-house campaigning after school and on weekends for students, and ensured that teachers taught the students to speak and write English well. More parents brought in their children when they realized that the students at Baah Memorial School were performing better than other schools.

Since Lily was busy with her second business, she decided to hire a headmaster for the school who unfortunately mismanaged the affairs of the school when Lily was struck by chronic asthmatic attacks, which made her stay home for some months. When she returned to the school almost all her students had left because the headmaster failed to pay the teachers for three months and the teachers did not teach effectively as they were supposed to. All hope seemed to be lost, so she decided to come to Sinapi Aba Trust for a loan and became a SAT client. After taking two loans from SAT the IDPRS Program started, and she was enrolled as part of the Tranche 1 schools in the Ashanti Region.

The proprietor received 16 weeks of training from November 2009 to March 2010. The school’s caterer was trained in June 2010, to improve the nutritional value in the food served to students. Her Lead Teacher was trained in January 2011 during the one-week immersion training session, and has returned to the school to impart this knowledge to the other teachers at the school. The school has also received school supplies, such as books and games, from the Program. Lily is on her second loan from the Program. She used both her loans, totaling 8,000 cedis, to provide a five classroom block for her school which increased her enrollment tremendously from 200 to about 450 students. She is currently discussing to take another loan to buy a new vehicle to serve as the school’s bus. She already has a vehicle but is not in a good state and needs to be replaced for the safety of the children.

Lily is a very hard-working proprietor and is very grateful to IDPRS for their bundle of services; she does not make any decision without informing the IDPRS Team and she engages IDPRS Team effectively on all the affairs of her school. She is good at making loan repayments and communicates effectively with Program staff when she is facing challenges. According to her, her school has a bright future because she knows that IDPRS will support her.

July 28, 2011

Helen Luguzuri is the proprietor for Moonlight International School, which is in Navrongo, a town in the Upper East Region of Ghana. She is a native of the town and has lived there since her childhood. She has been working as a petty trader in Navrongo’s market for years and her success in this occupation enabled her to build a house and then add four extra rooms. Initially, she did not know what to use the extra rooms for; so she consulted her aunt who said she should use it for a school.

Thus, Helen started the school in 2003 with six children, a teacher and a caretaker. Originally just a nursery, the school now has up to grade five and 141 students. She later added new classrooms and has acquired a new site where she is building her new school which is almost complete and will start operation in 2012.

According to the proprietor, she faced enrollment problems when she opened the school because the people in the community thought that nothing good could come from a petty trader and also that the fees were too high. Eventually, more parents enrolled their children because they realized that children who attended Moonlight International School were speaking and writing English well. The proprietor also says that due to strategies discussed at the IDPRS proprietor training, she now charges fees in installments so that all parents can afford her school.

Helen is part of the IDPRS Tranche 2 schools which were selected in the Upper East Region. She received 16 weeks of training from May to September 2010 on business management, finances and accounting, and other relevant school management skills. Her caterer, who runs the school’s canteen to provide nutritious lunches to the students, has been trained in nutrition, sanitation and hygiene as part of the Program. The IDPRS Program Team has selected a Lead Teacher from Moonlight International School to participate in a one-week immersion training session on pedagogy and basic teaching methods in August 2011. The school will receive supplies and materials, such as canteen materials, books, and footballs, for its participation in the Program. The proprietor hopes to take her school to a higher level and says that the training she received from IDPRS has helped her to overcome her weaknesses and run the school more effectively.

July 11, 2011

Hawa Gbolo Abu opened her school in 2000 with 35 students, on a rented piece of land with temporal wooden structures as classrooms. The school is situated in a suburb of a large market town called Techiman, in the Brong Ahafo Region. About 70% of Hawa’s students are Muslims.

Before she started her school, Hawa was a nursery teacher in a private school in her community. She was the only female teacher of the school. The director of the school refused to pay his social security for his staff and was jailed for some months, only to be bailed out by the school’s PTA Chairman. Due to her hard work and vigilance the PTA Chairman convinced the school’s director, who was mismanaging affairs, to hand over the schools administration to Hawa. Hawa accepted the proposition and assumed the administration of the school. However, later, the owner of the school, the Director, felt that he was losing the school so he brought in members of his family to work in his school with Hawa which would enable him to secure his school. The PTA advised Hawa to start her own school and that they would give her the needed support.

The PTA helped Hawa to acquire land and one of the members who was then working in the timber market offered wood to Hawa on credit to use as temporal classrooms. She opened her school, Aim High Preparatory, with the 35 students who came from her former school. For her marketing strategy, she taught the nursery students poems and rhymes. Then, after school and on weekends she would select some of them to go door-to-door, reciting these poems. These advertisements made many parents realize how good her students were, so they enrolled their children. However, she did not have any teachers, so when she suddenly had 100 students, she hired a teacher, now the headmaster of her school. She hired more teachers soon after, as the school expanded. She also realized that she had to purchase her own land since she was spending a lot of money on rent. She transferred the wooden classrooms from the rented land to the new plots she purchased, and opened the school there, which is where the school is located now.

According to Hawa, she received no support from any organization since she started her school so she had to use the little fees she collected to run the affairs of the school. Then the IDPRS Team selected her school in late 2009, as part of the first tranche in Brong Ahafo Region.

The proprietor received 16 weeks of training from November 2009 to March 2010. The school’s caterer was trained in June 2010, to improve the nutritional value in the food served to students. Her Lead Teacher was trained in January 2011 during the one-week immersion training session, and has returned to the school to impart this knowledge to the other teachers at the school. The school has also received school supplies, such as books, whiteboards, and games, from the Program. Hawa took her first loan of 2,000 Ghanaian cedis to provide a kitchen for her school and used the remaining funds to cement the floors of five classrooms in her school. After repaying this loan, she took another loan to construct a five classroom block and an office for her school. She removed some of the wooden classrooms to convert them into cement block classrooms. Hawa is very appreciative to IDPRS and is very good at making loan repayments.

June 23, 2011

Stephen Darkwa opened Majesty International School in 2004 with three students in a town called Chiraa in the Brong Ahafo Region. The main occupation of the inhabitants of this town is farming, so most children attending the school are children of farmers.

When his father died, Stephen was in secondary school. Given the cost of secondary school in Ghana, his father’s death forced him to struggle to pay school fees and complete his secondary education. This experience inspired Stephen to set up an orphanage to help children who find themselves in his situation and to ensure that orphans are given support by society. Despite appealing to many organizations and churches for support, Stephen was unable to garner assistance and decided to convert the orphanage into a school by charging very low fees so that every parent of any income level could afford to bring their children. Still, he has five students in the school who are orphans and will receive their basic education free of charge at his school.

The school was initially located in a rented apartment. After two years, they were evacuated by the landlord so they moved to another rented apartment where they stayed for another two years. During this time, the proprietor bought land, wher the school is now located. Three years later, the IDPRS Program Team came to the school and Stephen was selected to join the Tranche 2 schools in the Brong Ahafo Region.

The proprietor received 16 weeks of training from May to September 2010 on business management, finances and accounting, and other relevant school management skills. His caterer, who runs the school’s canteen, which charges 20p/day to provide hot, nutritious lunches to the students, has been trained in nutrition, sanitation and hygiene as part of the Program. The IDPRS Program Team has selected a Lead Teacher from his school to participate in a one-week immersion training session on pedagogy and basic teaching methods in August 2011. The school will receive supplies and materials for its participation in the Program, and the proprietor is still grateful for this bundle of services.

Stephen has taken a loan of 1,000 cedis from the Program, which he used to construct a pavilion classroom for the school. He has already started repaying his loan and intends to finish repaying on time so that he can receive another loan. The current structure of the school is wooden and the classroom floors are not cemented. The proprietor has plans of converting all his wooden structures into blocks with the help of the IDPRS Program. He says the loan which he took to construct the pavilion has made most parents realize how ambitious he is, which is attracting more students to the school.

June 7, 2011

In June of 2011, the IDP Rising Schools Program celebrated the third Proprietor Training Commencement in Accra, Ghana. The graduating proprietors were members of the third tranche of the IDP Rising Schools Program. The proprietors’ schools are from the Brong Ahafo and Western Regions of Ghana. Congratulations to all of the graduating proprietors!

January 3, 2011

During the week of January 3-7, 2011, the IDP Rising Schools Program held the first teacher training immersion program. The program was for lead teachers from each of the schools in the first tranche of the IDP Rising Schools Program. Lead teachers participated in a five day immersion training, where they learned about Instuctional Skills, Child Centered Learning, designing lesson plans, and more! Take a look at this videoand learn what the teachers thought.

April 14, 2010

On April 7th the first Proprietor Training Commencement took place in Accra, Ghana. The three hour ceremony signified the great achievement that the proprietors of the first tranche of the IDP Rising Schools Program have successfully completed their specialized business training. The IDP Rising Schools Program staff were able to attend the ceremony in Ghana and show their support and admiration for the proprietor’s accomplishments.

Not only was the graduation a reward to the proprietors for their dedication, but it also enabled the IDP Rising Schools team to learn more about the impact the program has had (already) on proprietors. Listening to several proprietors speak about the changes they had made in their schools because of training, watching the skit and quiz, and interacting with proprietors revealed just how much this training course has changed the way these proprietors manage their schools. The proprietors are, overall, very pleased with how the program has been run to date. The graduation ceremony demonstrated this appreciation and improvement vividly for all attending.

This event marked a great accomplishment. Not only for the Proprietors of the IDP Rising School Program, but also for the IDP Foundation, Sinapi Aba Trust and Opportunity International.

February 15, 2010

DP Foundation, Inc. has been invited to participate in a special event hosted by the United Nations Economic and Social Council entitled “Engaging philanthropy to promote gender equality and women’s empowerment.” The key outcome of the special event will be to provide increased focus of the philanthropic as well as international communities to issues central to the achievement of gender equality and women’s empowerment. As noted in our IDP Rising Schools Program, one of our 5 main goals is to achieve gender equality amongst proprietors, teachers and students in our participating schools.

January 20, 2010

The New Year holds exciting things for the IDP Rising Schools Program. The President and Director of Programming recently met with the Ministry of Education and Ghana Education Services in Ghana. The meeting was pivotal, enabling the co-operation of the government and the private sector, patience and flexibility as we create our teacher training component. This is a first!! We formed a teacher training advisory board chaired by Dr. Josiah A. M. Cobbah, Professor of Governance, Leadership and Management; Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration. He is developing the board for a total of 7 members that will include the Ministry of Education and Ghana Education Services. As IDP Rising Schools continue to grow and accomplish groundbreaking work: we are inspired by the power of partnership.