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School Fee Blues in Ghana

School Fee Blues in Ghana

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1. SCHOOL FEE BLUES: It’s time for students in Ghana to return to school. And one of the biggest hurdles is paying school fees. Sometimes settling bills for school fees can become a real juggling act. Last week we suddenly had to become jugglers.

The call came at 7:30 last Wednesday night. Mary Alhassan, Big Man’s youngest, had just gained admission to a Doctoral program in Medical Laboratory Science! Wonderful news! ….And then we learned that the deadline for paying the school fees was the next day! To make the deadline, we had to make an expeditious trip into Tamale.

By the time we learned about the deadline, it was nearly noon on Thursday, with Tamale a good 2 1/2 – 3 hours away over poor roads. Thursday was the eve of a major Muslim holiday, and downtown Tamale was an absolute traffic maelstrom. Motorcycles were in all directions. Vehicles were forcing to pass the wrong direction, and pedestrians were dodging every which way! In such a situation, it is best to be patient, since road rage can easily erupt without warning. (The photos were not taken last Thursday. When you are stuck in the middle of a traffic jam with no way out, it is wise not to brandish a cell phone camera . You never know when someone might get offended.) We made it to the bank by a miracle and managed to pay the fees with one hour to spare.

This year we have found ourselves helping more students than ever before. A few years ago, our hospital was able to help sponsor its workers. These days, payments from the National Health Insurance have remained at a trickle. We have been left as the only source of funding for sponsorships. At the same time, our personal financial support has sagged.

Why are we trying so hard? You need to understand how the system works in Ghana. In the U.S. you might gain admission and be able to defer that admission for a year. Here in Ghana, there is no such thing as a deferred admission. There are far more applicants than there are openings for training positions. If you are selected and you don’t take the opportunity now, you will never have another chance!

Students in Ghana also have another problem. Schools have learned that there are always applicants willing to come up with money. Schools have no compunction about giving brief periods of time in which to pay the fees. Mary’s case was the most extreme case we know of; however, one of our nurses has a junior brother who was given less than a week to pay fees for a nursing program or to lose the opportunity. Such a system favors people from urban areas who might have more disposable income. Training opportunities are critically important because professional training means a way out of the village for bright students and potential financial stability for their parents, many of whom are poverty-stricken subsistence farmers.

2. WE GET A NEW STOVE JUST IN TIME: We had to delay our return from Tamale because we needed to get a new stove and we had to wait on a money transfer to have the cash to buy it. Our old stove was beginning to shoot flames out under the burners, even after the gas was supposedly turned off. With the new stove strapped in place in the back of our pickup, we made our way back to Saboba Monday afternoon. We were thrilled to find that the Demon (pronounced Deh mong’) road was open, the water having receded slightly at the Kpalba bridge. This was the first time we had personally taken this road since mid-July. We wonder how long it will remain open, however, since weather forecasters are claiming that we are still in for more heavy rain before rainy season ends.

3. THE MICE ARE AT IT AGAIN! One of the hazards of rainy season is that rodents, particularly mice, are looking for cozy places to make nests. Unfortunately, it turns out that one of the favorite delicacies for our mice is the fragile wiring in warming beds, incubators, etc. After a fierce battle with the rodents, our General Manager finally called in an exterminator who has sprayed extensively. We hope and pray that this will bring the mouse problem to an end.

Mary Alhassan

4. WANT TO HELP OUR STUDENTS? This is Mary Alhassan, who one day will be Dr. Mary Alhassan, a PhD Medical Laboratory Scientist. Mary is only one of the many students we are helping.

We work with two different organizations, Evangel Bible Translators (15% administrative costs) and Christian Health Service Corps (3% fee.) Both organizations take on-line donations as well as donations by snail mail.

To donate through Evangel on-line, go to

Indicate by enclosing a note that the donation is for Bob and Jean Young.

To donate by snail mail to Evangel, mail checks to Evangel Bible , PO Box 669, Rockwall, TX 75087 – 0669

To donate through Christian Health Service Corps, you can donate on-line through

You can also donate through snail mail by sending a check to Christian Health Service Corps, PO Box 132, Fruitvale, TX 75127. You can designate the donation to our work by writing “Youngs #0113” on the memo line.



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