School & Children’s Home in Ejura
Neo-humanist School and ‘Namaskar House’
Dada Shiveshvarananda who manages the school in front of the gate with children and three other volunteers
The Neo-humanist School of Ejura, in the heart of the Ashanti Region, is managed by Dada Shiveshvarananda, a dedicated yogic monk. The school employs more than 12 local teachers and has received invaluable financial help, as well as great inspiration, from enthusiastic and committed international volunteers from the Kids World Wide program, whose volunteer fees help pay the teachers’ salaries.
Children lining up for afternoon closing assembly. The construction seen in the background is now ready, with new and colorful classrooms
The school goes from nursery to primary and up to JSS (Junior Secondary School) 2, which corresponds to 7-8th grade. Some students are able to pay the tuition, some not, and for each increase in the level numbers in the classes decrease. This is the situation in rural Ghana, where many children drop out of school to work to supplement the income of their parents.
Since it is a private school, the finances of the Neo-humanistic School are fragile and depend heavily on the volunteers that come. The school has expanded a lot since it was first established, and there are constantly repairs and maintenance to be done. So what little money volunteers bring has to be divided between wages for the teachers and construction.
By ensuring stable finances through regular funding we enable the school to give higher wages, making it easier to attract good teachers, which is a difficult task in rural Ghana. It is especially difficult for private schools since they tend to have to pay less, and it is a struggle for Dada to not only pay the minimum wage, but also increase the salaries of our teachers.
Education in rural Ghana
The reality in rural West Africa is that most local teachers have not gone to teachers’ training college, and since poor resources often mean that there are up to 60 children in one class, teaching is mostly done through memorizing and chanting by rote, and beating is the common method of punishment. This makes Neo-humanist Education and its values difficult to implement but also stresses the need for it.
The KG class hard at work
The children enjoy a Fun Day with a parachute from Kate, one of the volunteers
This is recognised in the School’s growing popularity, and Dada therefore has plans for great expansions on to a big plot of 94 acres owned by AMURT on the edge of town. The plan is to create a pre-vocational/technical school doing things like carpentry, construction, brick-molding, which could be sustained by selling their produce, and an agricultural farming school as well as moving the JSS there. The plot is big enough to also hold gardens to feed the ‘Namaskar House’ children’s home and the school.
Dada Shiveshvarananda entering his office
Basic building structures are there, so after some additional construction, getting a school bus to transport the children there would also make it much easier to attract students and get the community involved.
We are also looking into getting computers and internet to make the place more attractive for volunteers, as the nearest existing internet café is in Kumasi the capital of the Ashanti Region 2 hours away. Also having an internet café could be a good additional source of funds for teachers’ salaries etc.
‘Namaskar House’, providing a home for boys…
The ‘Namaskar House’ is just a short walk from the school, and is the home of four boys of now 12-18 years old, as well as Dada and his cook and helper Eric. The boys are also provided with education, and some of them, like Mahadeva, the eldest, wish to become teachers themselves some day.
Mahadeva playing cards with his ‘brothers’ at Namaskar House
Volunteers for the primary school also stay at ‘Namaskar House’ and the fees that they pay for room and board is the only source of funding for the children’s home. It is a lively place and in the evenings many children from the community visit the house to play and interact with the volunteers.
The ‘Namaskar House’ children’s home got its name in the community from the sanskrit greeting ‘namaska’ra’ which Dada extends to all he meets, and is a salutation of the divine within each of us.