BAOBAB SCHOOL FOR TRADES AND TRADITIONAL ARTS
The law says that children have to go to school. Nevertheless many children don’t go to school regularly and many don’t go at all out of financial need. They work on the farms, in households or they sell on the street. In 2005 Baobab built a school for these children. Today 100 children live at the school during the term. We accept children from 12 to 16 years old. The Centre is built according to ecological principles and as far as possible we use local materials; we use a solar dryer for the medicinal produce and have built rain water collection tanks; we have an organic farm with chickens and bees; we produce oyster mushrooms and have a Moringa and pineapple farm, a medicinal garden and a variety of diverse tree, plant and bird species as we don’t kill them with chemicals. Plastic is recycled and it is remarkably clean at Baobab. We try to seperate waste and keep our environment clean. Children should grow up in a healthy and clean environment. They should learn to take care of waste responsibly, as this will have a long-term impact on their lives in the villages.
The school is officially an inclusive school. We increasingly have more young people with physical disabilities. In Ghana there are many polio victims, forcing children to use a wheelchair or walk with crutches. Until just a few years ago, people with disabilities in Ghana were not considered able to do anything and some were even hidden from their families. Today, however, one often hears ‘Disability is not inability’. To be able to educate all these young people together is a real blessing as they help each other. These young people feel at home at Baobab and do very well.
The school offers training in carpentry, cane and bamboo furniture making, kente weaving, bead making, batik, sewing, art and catering as well as agriculture using organic principles. Since 2013 the school has been registered as an NVTI school (National Vocational Training Institute). This allows the students to take an NVTI examination at the end of their schooling, usually after 4 – 6 years. They can take a Proficiency examination or they can do the Foundation exam and, from 2019, we want to offer Trade Test 1 and 2. After this they do „Service“ for 6 months by working for Baobab in their various workshops. At the end of this time they get a starter kit when they graduate from school. With this they can start working with somebody or some decide to continue working for Baobab as assistant teachers or producers. If they want, we link them to microcredit institutions to start their own workshop. We still invite them back to train them further in entrepreneurship and assist them if they have questions or problems – but only if they want to do this.
Students help to bare the cost
The students live at Baobab, get 3 meals a day and we take care of them medically. Since 2015 we have tried to get a 30 Cedis commitment fee from the families, which is very difficult as some can’t even pay this. The students also contribute to the cost of their training by producing for the Baobab shop on Saturday mornings: books, paintings, necklaces, Moringa powder and teas. They also help at the kitchen, the bicycle workshop or on the farm.
We meet the old students regularly at the school and work with them on their future plans. We organize workshops for them and invite specialists to train them in entrepreneurship, business,marketing, how to save money and book keeping. Ten former students work at the Baobab school and six at the Baobab House. Some work on their own and sometimes sell their products to Baobab.
We still depend on sponsors. We would like to take more students, but we need the money to finance it.
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