Thursday, 5 February 2009
Welcome back to a newly sunny Accra, the harmatan has gone a couple of days ago and now we are back to the usual hot and sweaty.
Lots of stuff happened since I last wrote, so enough small talk and let's get started...
Last week I held my first presentation at the ministry to brief the Planning Budgeting Monitoring and Evaluation (PBME) team on my progress on the financing model to cost the new Education strategic Plan (ESP) - just getting started on acronyms :-) - which is to say, nothing.
This fancy named excel spreadsheet has been designed by a world bank consultant for a number of francophone african countries, and translated into English to suit Ghana.
As you immagine the education system in francophone countries is completely different. Making it fit to the Ghanaian context has been (and still is) a nightmare. Both because I know nothing about accountancy (never mind excel programing) and because the offices at the ministry are incredibly slow and keep almost no track of where they spend their budget.
To make a quick example: Procurement buys textbooks (from several editors at very different prices), Logistics distributes them to Districts, Districts distributes them to schools, public and private. If you want to know how much has been spent on books provided to private schools you are hopeless.
On Friday I joined a colleague working in the ICT department to run a census of the IT labs in secondary schools in the central regions, a couple of hours out of Accra.
This was an incredible experience. the three schools we visited were in surprisingly good conditions, the teachers and the headmasters well motivated and the students.... well they're students, but given that, quite eager to learn.
Parent Teacher Associations (PTAs) had basically taken over control of the schools from the ministry, and instead of sitting and waiting for funds to come, they raised funds to build new classrooms and buy (or get donated) second hand computers.
On the way back I had a very interesting conversation with my colleague about how complacent and lazy people become in the ministry, and how motivated people are afraid of entering the ministry and going down the same way. That made me realize how tolerant I had become to the pace at the ministry. No more - from now I'll be breathing down their necks.
I have some pictures of the school trip which I promise I will upload in small-small time.
Finally for the weekend, Bojo beach, a lovely sand bank some 200 m away from the coast. Great spot. I have pictures - not many, but some - of that too. I promise they'll be up shortly, just wait small-small.