Gauranga International School, Ghana
Posted July 18, 2004
Ghana, West Africa, is a seaside country bordering on the Gulf of Guinea, between Côte d'Ivoire and Togo. In the vicinity of many rather war-torn countries (Liberia, Sierra Leone), it is a peaceful haven and has been labelled the most friendly country in Africa. In this third-world country, where a large part of the population is either hungry or uneducated or both, ISKCON is fulfilling both basic needs as well as spiritual ones through Temples, Food For Life programs, farm projects and schools.
After the success of Lord Krishna's Academy primary school next to our main temple near Nsawam village, we now have:
- Approximately 100 children who attend gurupuja every day,
- A daily Prasadam lunch (offered to SriSri Radha-Govinda) for all the children,
- A regular children's Harinama and preaching team,
- Krishna Consciousness as an official subject in the school, with approval from the government, alongside other official subjects.
The school has been running for three years, and we now wish to fulfil Srila Prabhupada's desires by opening a second Hare Krishna school in Ghana. Srila Prabhupada wrote the following to Tamal Krishna Maharaj and Gurudasa prabhu August 23, 1971 (London):
". . . As I have already told you all several times in India, respectable gentlemen want to educate their children through the English medium. If we can organise such an institution such as St. Xavier's College in Calcutta and Bombay and we can give them instruction through the English medium and raise them in Krishna conscious culture we shall get unlimited number of students from respectable families in India. Such institution will be very much welcome especially in Bombay and Delhi. So think over this matter how to best organize such an institution as St. Xavier's College.
Our mission is solid. Our philosophy is not utopian. Our men are being trained for exemplary character. So we shall have a unique position all over the world provided we stick to the principles, namely unflinching faith in Spiritual Master and Krishna, chanting not less than 16 rounds regularly and following the regulative principles. Then our men will conquer all over the world."
From this it is clear that, aside from the traditional Gurukula, Srila Prabhupada was contemplating a missionary-type school as a valuable preaching medium.
According to UNESCO statistics, in the year 2000, the education enrolment in Ghana, primary level, was 58.2 per cent compared to South Africa's 88.9 per cent and 98.9 per cent in the U.K. The United Nations declared an official Literacy Decade between the years 2003 2012, during which it aims to extend literacy to the 861 million adults who are illiterate worldwide, and the roughly 113 million children who have no access to school. The lowest literacy rates worldwide are in Sub-Saharan Africa (where Ghana is situated) as well as South and West Asia. (for more info on literacy topics, refer to www.unesco.org and related sites).
Thus this is an ideal time for ISKCON to play its role. Just as Food For Life programs in crisis and disaster areas have been very successful preaching programs, ISKCON can make its mark in the education crisis and also make a whole lot of life-time devotees and very favourable communities. In Africa here people really appreciate any sort of attempt towards educating children.
Our new school will be called Gauranga International School, which we thought will appeal to devotees and also be acceptable to non-devotees -- after all Gaura means golden, and Ghana has for long been known as the gold coast. The seaside town of Winneba has been selected as the appropriate area for the school, due to the location of the University there and that fact that there are already a few Grhastha devotee families residing there. Also, right now there is a large piece of land for sale right near the University, and the owners are favouring the idea of selling to us so that a school may be developed there. So all devotees please pray that we may be able to purchase this valuable piece of land!
In the past Lord Krishna's Academy has been largely a charity school, and due to the poverty of the area where it is located we have had suggestions to expand it into an orphanage. Gauranga International School will be in a more wealthy area, and thus more self-sustainable once it has been built. We have already started teaching a few nursery children at a temporary site.
The local GBCs have given their blessings for us to attempt the opening of a second school, and we request anybody for their valuable advice and assistance.
We also welcome any contributions towards the purchase of the permanent land, sponsors for children at the cost of $200 per year, or contributions towards the building of the school.
Devotee teachers are also welcome to come and visit Africa and see if they wish to assist in the mission, though conditions are a bit austere.
Please contact the Principal Ila devi dasi at: firstname.lastname@example.org
* Ila devi dasi is originally from South Africa and as
qualified teacher has been teaching since 1994. She has taught at
several private as well as public schools in Pretoria and
Johannesburg, but gave up her comforts to teach children in
underdeveloped countries in the year 2000.