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05.03.2009 Feature Article

Why can’t Ghanaian schools try new areas for business development?

Why are boarding schools across Ghana not seizing the opportunity to improve their money-generating potential?

Most boarding schools have assembly halls, dining halls and libraries, which means that with people ready to spend money on affordable foods, entertainment and shopping, all these buildings can be rented out and thus put to good use by these schools, especially when students are away on holidays.

30 years ago, schools only focused on education; however, in the current climate, it is necessary for every school with a bit of land to explore operating summer camps, mini-restaurants, mini supermarket and several forms of entertainment to bring in extra cash. Thus school authorities need to anticipate and, if possible, influence an environmental change and diversify.

Let's take La bone Secondary School, for example. It is situated near the British High Commission and other High Commissions, however the school has failed to properly utilize its strategic location and the amenities around it. It is a walk-able distance to the La Beach and the Trade Fair site, but more importantly, security around the school is superb. Why therefore has La Bone Secondary School not been utilizing its proximity to these places to provide affordable accommodation to tourists, even if it is only $10- 15 a night, or bed and breakfast and sleeping on the bunk beds per person per night in the cities and in the rural regions perhaps $8- 10. Even sleeping on straw mat for $4. Breakfast could range from Tom brown plus fresh bread, fresh fruits rice water known rice pudding in the Western world. Evening meal could be an extra charge for example $3 for a complete meal. If affordable price is charge then schools are bound to make good business rather than if market rates are charged. Schools could have all inclusive (all travels around Ghana, food, and picking from and to the Airport once you arrive in Ghana package deal for a month for example a specified amount but travellers must be given a time table and schools keen to try this out must have n insurance insure themselves against any risk. Of course trip to Cape Coast, Keta Sea defence, Northern region, Western region and East etc. Travellers need to be made welcomed and treated with respect with no dirty tactics to bully them or harassment. School have also help with community development within areas where their schools is located to improve the general infrastructure of their community, as this is part of social responsibility for the schools concerned.

La bone Secondary School can diversify into a mini business enterprise to feed into various markets around it. For example, it can start a fashion shop to sell clothing to foreigners and locals alike; open a restaurant and a cinema using the assembly hall; and even lease out other campus facilities for meetings, seminars and conferences. Furthermore, the school can operate a farm and subsequently sell organic produce to the foreign embassies and missions surrounding it. Why can't La bone Secondary School have a one-stop shop for students and tutors alike, instead of spending that money outside the school premises?

If the school has a shop that sells almost everything basic item, then one could just buy, say, a post card and then stamp and post it right in the school. If the school is into arts and craft, it can also display these products in a campus shop. A hairdressing salon and other useful businesses could also be on school grounds so as to create jobs for the local people in and around the school.

Schools should generate money instead of focusing on Government-provided limited funds for their maintenance. It would be a great idea for all head teachers to start thinking of strategies for generating funds. In the U.K., students have a non-uniform day and use the day to contribute £1 towards a project. Why can't we use such strategies instead of relying on loans and aid from foreign countries? Indeed we can use all these abovementioned strategies to be self-sufficient, in order to be able to maintain our schools independently of government assistance.

What the heads of Ghanaian schools should consider is that they can, through a series of innovations, have their students spend money in one-stop mini supermarket on their campuses rather than outside. This could create job opportunities and work experience of running a shop by some students just for two weeks at a time. In addition, the schools could have a 24/7 restaurants operating with vending machines so that visiting relatives of students or visitors could use the facilities. These facilities could also be hired out for other celebrations, seminars etc. at an affordable rate to undercut the competitors. This is a doable challenge for every school. These schools must accept the challenge and explore business plans to implement these ideas. When one goes to Warwick University in the U.K, for example, there are mini hotels within the university, thus generating money for its development activities and expansion.

So what are Ghanaian schools waiting for? What we must realise is that every school needs a yearly maintenance and any initiatives identified either by students or school governors. There are the strategies that any school whether High school or junior school can adopt or adapt to generate much needed capital. Ghana must put a stop the ideas of pleading poverty in the midst of natural resources and wealth. Foreign loans and aids any development is great to some extent but rather sells our country very short and demeans Ghanaians where we people to be pited. Instead we should rather empower the general public to consider various initiatives would not only boost our pride as an independent country but also our profile on the international stage.

Mercy Adede Bolus
Mercy Adede Bolus, © 2009

This author has authored 172 publications on Modern Ghana. Author column: MercyAdedeBolus

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