A 33-year-old Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) student of the Jackson School of International Studies at the University of Washington, Seattle, United States of America, Mr Francis Abugbilla, has installed four solar panels at the Kpantarigu basic schools in the Bawku West District of the Upper East Region valued at $4,000.
The facility is to provide electricity to aid the teaching and learning of the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) at the schools in the community where Mr Abugbilla hails from.
The four solar panels are connected to the Kpantarigu Primary and Junior High schools and the six-bedroom teachers’ quarters.
It also has a charging station for the members of the community to charge their gadgets with electricity.
Speaking at the inaugural ceremony, Mr Abugbilla explained that the aim of the gesture was to help improve general academic performance in both the primary and junior high schools of the deprived community and help make teaching and learning of the ICT as a subject more practical for the pupils to understand.
He explained that the University has an educational fund called “Marcy Migdal Fund for Educational Equality at Centre for Global Studies” in which they award $1,000 grant to students annually who have compelling stories on improving education either locally in the US or anywhere around the world.
He said he took part in the contest in 2018 and won alongside another student and used his money to purchase a solar panel, battery and an inverter to power the Junior High School (JHS) section of the school to enable them use the computers that were given to them by the Ghana Education Service in 2015.
He said in 2019, through social media appeals he was able to raise about $4,000 which he used to purchase the current four solar panels that have been installed at the primary, JHS, teachers’ quarters and a charging station for the community, adding that, “the four new solar panels are not compatible with the one installed last year so we have to remove that one and install only the four.”
The International Relations student indicated that the community was yet to be connected to the national grid and therefore access to electricity by the teachers to power the computers to practically teach the pupils was a problem.
He expressed optimism that with the provision of the solar panels it would further enable pupils to come back to the school to study especially in the night to improve their academic performance and make them compete well with their colleagues from other schools.
While thanking the University of Washington and those who supported the project, Mr Abugbilla who is now in his final year, stated that NASCO ICT Computers in Spain was ready to supply the school with 45 computers but indicated that the school did not have an ICT laboratory.
Mr Abugbilla therefore appealed to indigenes, state institutions, non- governmental organisations (NGOs), philanthropists to assist the school to build an ICT laboratory to enhance effective teaching and learning.
The Assistant Headteacher of the JHS section, Mr Issaka Halidu, expressed profound gratitude to Mr Abugbilla and said it had come as a big relief because the school was given 25 rlg computers in 2015 but they could not put all of them to use.
Mr Halidu, who is also the ICT teacher, explained that every day he used to carry about 10 laptops home to charge so that they could use them the following day for ICT lessons and the pupils would be put into groups which did not enhance their understanding of ICT.
The Assistant Headteacher disclosed that the three-unit classroom block of the JHS section which was built with mud was now in a bad shape and appealed to government and other NGOs to come to the aid of the school to construct a new block for the school.
A JHS three student, Ms Justina Akurugu, expressed happiness about the gesture and said since the installation of the solar panels, it has greatly improved their understanding on the subject.
Three pupils were awarded solar lamps while another three were also awarded notebooks for winning a current affairs quiz competition organised by Mr Abugbilla.
FROM SAMUEL AKAPULE, KPANTARIGU