Building a Second School Library in Ghana

 

Building a Second School Library in Ghana

 

Just over a decade ago, UUCA members raised the money for a library in Nkyenenkyene, Ghana. This was a village with a regional elementary school, but no books (and no electricity!)

 

My link to Ghana in that project was Dr. George Ayittey.  He’s a Ghana native who was teaching economics at George Washington University.  I called Dr. Ayittey some months ago just to see how the library was doing… it had been ten years, after all.  The library was a success, he said, and another was needed in a nearby village, Teacher Mante.  Could we do it again? 

 

By now you know we said, “Yes!” because UUCA youth have taken on the task of raising half the money.  They’ve done a good job… almost halfway there… with support from UUCA adults.

 

I asked Dr. Ayittey to tell us Americans what kind of difference it makes for African children to have access to a library and books.       –Joy Borra

 

Here’s what Dr. Ayittey wrote:

 

Americans take such things as freedom of expression, a free media and a public library for granted. In some parts of Africa, they can mean the difference between success and failure. I should know because that was my own experience.

 

When I attended primary school in Ghana in the 1950s, we did not have a classroom. Our classroom was under a tree and the blackboard was nailed to the tree. We had few textbooks which we shared among 35 pupils. I was an unapologetic mischief-maker, not serious at school.

 

The turnaround came when an uncle marched me and my older brother, Caleb, into a room one night and said, “You are going to teach us how to spell two words – hippopotamus and Mississippi. I will give 25 cents to the one who can spell those two words tomorrow.”  The following day, though I struggled immensely, I was able to do so and he gave me the 25 cents.

 

Suddenly, I was a changed person. I began to take studying more seriously because I saw an incentive for me to do so. My position in class changed from 32nd to 2nd.

 

I went on to college and university on scholarships. When I finished my university education in 1969, more scholarships let me finish my PhD with a 4.0 GPA. When I look back, I marvel at how 25 cents made all these possible.

 

Fortunately, in Nkyenekyene school children do not have to sit under a tree for classes. They have a school building.  And now they have a library.  I have been to the library and seen for myself the attentive use of the facilities by the children. They have impressed me with their curiosity and eagerness to learn.

 

The library very quickly attracted the attention of children in the neighboring villages. So traffic to the library has increased tremendously. Of particular attraction has been the reading contests they organize periodically.

 

This suggests that another library in a nearby village would dramatically ease congestion in Nkyenekyene.  So I am working again with UUCA to raise money to build another library in another village.  I have no doubt in my mind that this new library will also produce miracles!

 

                                    -George Ayittey