For the past six years Tema International School through its IBDP CAS Programme has been engaging in community service in Akorlikope, a small village in the South Tongu District in the Volta Region of Ghana. The initial driving force was to construct a holistic school building: a six unit classroom block, a staff room, a library, a canteen, teacher’s bungalow, and a toilet facility. Before this, it was a school under a tree, established by Pastor Stephen, a missionary in Akorlikope. The conditions were deplorable and the IBDP Class of 2012, the pioneers of the Akorlikope Project, as well as successive classes were more than ready to make a difference. For these past years, 1st year IBDP students visit Akorlikope in the 1st and 2nd semesters for 2 and 3 days respectively, to engage in a number of outreach projects, central of which is the school building.
The village had other socio-economic developmental deficits: lack of a proper source of drinking water, and electricity. With each visit to Akorlikope, the IBDP students come up with ideas to mitigate the plight of the people of Akorlikope. The progress over the years has been instrumental; the six unit classroom block, library and a staff/headmasters room is about 80% completed, the introduction of a solar lighting system (Liter of Light Project), the construction of a borehole initiated by Derek Bonsu, donation of tons of clothes (Dress for Success Project), shoes (Happy Feet Project) stationery & school fees (Educom Project and Pen in a Box Project), classroom furniture, and cooking stoves (Eco Stove Project). These projects have been student initiatives. Most of these projects have however been infrastructural centered, with little of social centered developmental projects.
A recent visit to Akorlikope by the CAS team to follow up on the ongoing projects showed that tremendous progress with an equal measure of work also needed. The caretaker of the school also shared the challenge he faces when most parents are unable to pay school fees, which is making it difficult to get and maintain teachers in the school. Our students are discussing ways to make a greater impact. How do we engender development that is more people centered, that will empower the indigenes of Akorlikope to take charge of their own development? It’s obvious TIS annual visits to Akorlikope are a great opportunity for our students to understand some of the difficulties the community faces, and how they can help in bringing about the much needed socio-economic developments in the village. Community development requires both infrastructural and social change, and most importantly the latter. But social change takes time, hard to come by and needs a conscious self-awareness for the need of change. So with this enormous task, how can an IBDP CAS Community Project make much impact? In the coming years, our DP Students look forward to wrap-up to finalizing-up the Akorlikope Project and move to another community, the thought of producing a more people centered and social oriented community service will come to the fore. How can IBDP students promote social change? How can a community based CAS Project empower the people in the community to take the lead with their own development. And how best can all of these be sustained with time? The CAS students welcome suggestions from the entire TIS Community regarding this, and most especially the current Grade 10 students who will start their IBDP programme in the next academic year.
Change is a JOURNEY, and never a DESTINATION. (Stephen Poor)