At last count we had eighty-four applications for the eighteen scholarships Anansi has to offer at the beginning of the 2014-2015 academic year. Our selection criteria is based on three things:
1) Academic Performance: Applicants must qualify for admittance to a government high school. In Ghana, this qualification is based on an exam taken during a student’s third year of junior high school. From the West African Examination Council (WAEC): “Candidates are graded based on performance in the external examination (objective and written) and Continuous (Internal) Assessment marks provided by the schools. A nine-point scale is used in grading the candidates with Grade 1 denoting the highest performance and Grade 9 the lowest.” The results of this exam is used by senior high schools and technical institutions when admitting new students.
2) Need: To assess need we use a poverty score card verbal examination of ten questions, which was developed by a micro loan company specifically for Ghana. We make home visits.
3) Application Forms: We evaluate the information on their application form including their essays in which they are asked to tell us why they need a scholarship and what their plans are for their future.
This year, we placed twenty-four applicants in the “no” file based on their WAEC scores and their poverty scorecard results. That left home visits to help determine which of the remaining sixty-four applicants would become Anansi Students. This is a difficult and heart breaking job. We tend to give priority to students who graduated in the last year or the year before with a good aggregate (the better score) on their WAEC exams, since that means they have already been at home for one or two years wanting to continue their education but without money to pay the fees. We also give priority to girls to balance the cultural preference to invest in educating boys.
This year we invited applications from two remote villages where none of their junior high school graduates had ever continued to high school. Three of the students (one girl and two boys) had scored one point above the score needed for admittance to a government high school. After considering the impact on the community of these three young students going to high school, we’ve decided to try to facilitate admittance for these children to Edinaman High School. If Edinaman would accept the three almost-qualifying scores, we would fund all three of these students. The ripple effect of our Anansi dollars is bigger when there is no history of higher education in the families of the recipients. In this case it will be even bigger because there is no history of children going to high school in the whole village.
The photos in this post were taken during Mohammed and David’s first day of home visits in the village of Efutu, just a few miles up the road from our village of Mpeasem. You can see the difficulty of saying “no” to any child who lives under these conditions that has qualified for high school and desperately wants to go.
At the end of the student selection for the 2014-2015 academic year, we were only able to fund 24 students from over 100 applicants. If you know anyone who might like to sponsor a student’s education for three years, please share with them.