In the summer of 2004 the SmartKids Foundation started its work in Ghana by selecting the first batch of 34 bright and needy children. At that time 24 of this group were admitted to the first grade of Senior High School (SHS), 5 started in Junior High 2 (JHS) and 5 started in Junior High 1.
After selection, all signed our Pledge, a written promise in which it is stated among other things “to be co-responsible for the SmartKids program from that moment on” and to “donate at least 1% of my income to the SmartKids Foundation as soon as I start making money”.
Of the 24 older selectees 2 dropped out while in SHS, for personal reasons. The 22 others completed SHS in 2007, most with very good grades.
In 2008 out of those 22, 11 started at universities and polytechnics. 7 more followed in 2009-2011. We have not heard from the other 4 after they completed SHS.
In 2010 5 more SK’s graduated from SHS; Rashid Abdullai made 6 A’s on his final exam, making him number two in the country. 3 of those 5 are now in University, Rashid is studying Medicine. The other two are awaiting placement and sponsorship.
The youngest group (of 6) that started in 2004, are waiting for their SHS final exam results at the moment.
In 2007 we selected a second group of kids, this time 16. Fifteen of them started at the JHS1 level, one at SHS 1. In 2010, those 15 completed JHS; half of them had excellent grades and were placed at Class A Secondary Schools, 5 had very good grades and went to Class B schools and 3 just had good grades and were placed in Class C schools. At the moment those 15 are all in the final phases of SHS1. The one 2007 selectee that started in SHS1 is waiting for her SHS exam results at this moment.
In 2008 we selected another 15 new smart kids. In the summer of 2011 they await their JHS exam results (BECE).
In 2009 and 2010 again we selected 15 and 16 kids respectively. They are now in JHS 1 and 2.
All in all, from 2004 to 2010, the SmartKids Foundation selected 96 children of which 2 dropped out prematurely. The selected kids are from all over Ghana, as can be seen on the map below (click to enlarge).
Our organization consists of an International Board (in Holland and all Dutch, for fund finding and policy making), a board of recommendation, a National Board in Ghana (hardly active any more, except for some individual members) a Junior Board in Ghana (see below) and a National Coordinator (the only hired hand the foundation has).
One of the promises smart kids make signing the pledge when they enter our program is “to be co-responsible for the SmartKids program from this moment on”. This means that the leadership of the foundation hands over more and more responsibilities to the kids. The older they get, the more they should take over. Combined with the other major promise in the pledge – I will donate at least 1% of my income to the SmartKids Foundation as soon as I start making money – this should lead (if the beneficiaries stick to their promises) to total self sustainability in the future. Which is one of the main aims of our Foundation.
In 2007 a Junior Board was elected by the smart kids themselves, consisting of 5 older members. They took over responsibilities from that moment on. From 2008 on they organized the Annual Meetings and the selecting of new beneficiaries. With the help of many other smart kids. From 2010, they are also made responsible for the Ghanaian part of the content of our website. From September 2011, they promised be responsible for our newsletter. Some smart kids, mainly those in Kumasi, have also been assisting the National Coordinator with her duties. While more beneficiaries were selected, the organizational workload has been growing. That is why in the spring of 2011, when hiring a new National Coordinator, we decided to hire an Assistant National Coordinator as well. Both work on a part time basis.
From 2004 to 2010 the foundation paid all school related bills for our beneficiaries in JHS and SHS; school fees, boarding fees, feeding, uniforms and in many cases even travel expenses. And although we consider secondary education our “core business” (this is where the major drop out happens in countries like Ghana), we were able to support some of our older kids attending university. From 2008 to 2011 five smart kids were supported with a full scholarship (study fees, boarding, materials and feeding), while 7 received partial support. Despite of the fact that we were not able to help everyone, nearly all continued their education at the tertiary level.
In 2011 this will be changing both at the secondary and the tertiary level. Due to our inability to find enough funds to continue our policy of selecting 15 new kids every year, we already decided to skip the selection for 2011-2012. If that won’t bring enough financial relief, we will have to cut on our tertiary sponsorship expenses.
For our existing JHS and SHS program we will try our utmost for all smart kids to complete their education at the institute they are in at the moment. In case of having to cut on these expenses too, we will do so according to the following guidelines:
- Academic Performance (decided upon by the educational institute)
- Relative Poverty among peers (decided upon by the kids themselves)
- Smartkidsness (personal contribution to the foundation, decided upon by the leadership)
This will result in 3 order lists per peer group; the combination of those three list will decide in which order our kids will be supported, in case of lack of financial means.
If you want to help us support our kids in continuing their education, you can do so with a financial contribution. Click here to get to our donations page: http://www.smartkidsfoundation.nl/what-can-you-do/322-2
(For now transfers will be made to an account that is in one of our board members name, Ruud Nassette. From this account money will be transferred to the SmartKids Foundation account.)
- Will the smart kids stick to their promises?
- Will it be possible to keep the selecting process objective? In other words, how can we make sure the brightest and poorest kids will be selected in the future, instead of brothers, cousins or other members of their community?
Any suggestions on how to deal with these challenges best, especially 2 and 3?