Learning Link (Ghana)
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Learning Link Ghana is a UK-based registered charity. Its mission is to support the advancement of education of children in Kumasi, Ghana, and in particular the City of Kumasi Preparatory School, by providing or assisting in the provision of facilities, which would not be otherwise available. It arranges sponsorship for children who, because of poverty, would miss the opportunity to receive basic education, especially girls and children with special educational needs. In addition, it aims to promote friendship and exchange programmes between children in Ghana and the UK.
Learning Link Ghana was founded in 1999 by Frank Nkansa-Dwamena.
Frank's father, Nana Nkansa-Dwamena, founded the City of Kumasi School, in Kumasi, Ghana, in 1966 and remained as Principal until his death in 1998, at which time Frank returned to Ghana to become the Managing Director of the school.
Frank is a former Head of Special Education at the London Borough of Brent. On his retirement, Frank recognised the potential for using the experience of educationists in the UK to benefit children in Ghana. He invited a number of his ex-colleagues to join him, and the charity was registered in 2000.
The charity celebrated its ten-year anniversary on 5 March 2009.
The charity is chaired by Gladys Nkansa-Dwamena with Vice-Chair Eugene Nkansa-Dwamena. It consists of two trustees Mrs Averill Lovatt and Mrs Jill Morgan both retired educationists who look after the sponsorship side of the charity. Patrons of the charity are Jenni Smith, a valued and respected trustee of LLG for fourteen years, working tirelessly to support the children of the school. She was one of Frank’s colleagues in Brent and was invited to become involved in Learning Link Ghana. She became Chair in 2000 when the charity became registered and held that position until 2009. Jenni’s interest in Africa began when, as a young teacher, she travelled to Tanzania in East Africa to teach primary school children when her husband was appointed to the Food and Agricultural Organisation of United Nations to organize veterinary research work.
Jenni returned to London three years later and after her ten years at home looking after her children, she re-qualified as an educational psychologist and has worked in several local educational authorities. In 1993/4 she visited Zimbabwe and was involved in teacher training there. Jenni remained in educational work until 2006 when she retired as Principal Educational Psychologist (Acting) in Waltham Forest, East London. Knowledge and love of Africa has underpinned her interest in being an active member of Learning Link Ghana.
Jonathan Braham: Jonathan Braham was born in Jamaica and educated there and in the United Kingdom. He eschewed working in the family business, taught English at private schools, worked as an editor in a publishing company, as producer in a television company and later set up an advertising agency. When that failed in the recession of the late 1970s he returned to his first love – writing. He’d written his first novel when he was sixteen years old, and many short stories for the Jamaica Broadcasting Corporation radio programme, Jamaica Woman, while still at school. He’s written for radio, newspapers, theatre, the Jamaica Journal, and won awards for his work in the Jamaica Literary Festival. He arrived in London intending to publish but after a year had a change of direction and found himself working in a fascinating area of work – Education Welfare. Since 1990 he has been director of the Education Welfare Service in a Local Authority in London.
The Reverend David Nash: David Nash is a Church of England priest who retired in 2008, having served over forty years in ministry mostly in North London parishes. During this time he served as Area Dean of Enfield, and later, of Central Barnet. In addition he was for ten years a clergy selector, and for seven years a tutor on the Edmonton Area Christian Studies Course. Currently he assists in local parishes in Enfield where he and his wife Bridget now live. He is also a member of the pastoral team of St Paul's Cathedral. He enjoys reading and keeping up with current affairs, dabbling with art and pottering in the garden.
Mrs Bridget Nash: Bridget Nash, wife of David, retired in 2009 as a senior social worker with Barnet Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service where she served for 17 years. After graduating at Manchester University, she spent a year as a VSO volunteer at St Monica's School, Mampong, in Ghana and she is still in regular touch with a number of the volunteers and teachers who were serving there at the same time. She and David have four children and three grandchildren so there will be few empty spaces in their retirement plans.
Mr Geoffrey Smith: Geoff is a veterinary surgeon, now retired, whose working life was spent in carrying out research into infectious diseases of animals, at the Moredun Institute in Edinburgh and the Zoological Society of London, with an intervening period of three years in Tanzania as an adviser for the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation. During his working life, he also visited and advised in other parts of Africa (Kenya, Sudan, Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Ghana) and South America (Paraguay, Bolivia).
A full list of all current trustees and financial information about the charity can be found on the Charity Commission's website. The charity's registration number is 1081329.
Partner schools in the UK
Learning Link Ghana creates partnerships between the City of Kumasi school and schools in the UK, which hold their own sponsorship events to raise funds for children in Ghana. Current partner schools included Ravenscroft Technology College now Totteridge Academy. Monken Hadley CE School in Barnet, and FitzWimarc School in Rayleigh, Essex.
We have had links with Monken Hadley Church of England Primary school since 2006. This is a small single entry primary school in North London, Barnet, where pupils, parents and staff at the school have supported Learning Link Ghana through sponsored events such as a 'Sponsored Bounce', sales of the school magazine, and through running a stall at the school’s Christmas and Summer Fairs.
The Ravenscroft School (now The Totteridge Academy) is a Technology College in North London. Sponsorship from Ravenscroft was facilitated through the Interact Group, which is a group of sixth formers who meet with a representative of the local Barnet Rotary Club to support and help people in the community. The international theme was developed through the Rotary Club and in 2007 the Interact Group sponsored a teenaged pupil at the City of Kumasi Preparatory School through taking a collection at the Christmas Carol Service. They have continued their support by making and selling cakes to raise adequate funds.
LLG has been linked with FitzWimarc School in Rayleigh, Essex since 2009. Fitz is a large 11-16 comprehensive school that has an excellent reputation in its local area and outstanding examination results. The link with LLG and the City of Kumasi School was established by the then Head of Geography, Miss Julia Hammond, who was able to visit the school in February 2010 and again in 2011.
- Over 20 children have received sponsorship from Learning Link Ghana this year alone. In total since its inception we have sponsored over 300 children.
- The charity has contributed to the building of a domestic science block, a nursery, a library, and ICT suite to the school. The ICT Suite has just recently been refurbished with the help of Martin Tanner, Director at ADM COMPUTING. Martin Tanner visited the school in December 2014 with a colleague, Marc Overton a Senior BT Structural Engineer. They were able to advise the staff on new procedures and donated equipment to refurbish the ICT Suite and give it a new lease of life.
- Learning Link Ghana recently ventured in the world of online promotional activity, and now has a website and a profile on social networking site, Facebook
Current and future activity
Current and future projects include:
- Partnership with Whitings Hill Primary School The children are encouraged to wear international clothes on Wednesday 22 April and donate £1 to Learning Link Ghana. International clothes could be anything from National dress/ traditional clothes to sports team kits.
- continuing to sponsor the education of eligible children;
- exploring online activities; and
- developing new links with UK schools.