Tamale, May 21, GNA - The Ghana Office of the Christian Children's Fund of Canada (CCFC), an international NGO, has deposited 379.3 million cedis with the Metropolitan Insurance Company on behalf of 2,439 sponsored pupils under an education savings plan.
The "Children Insurance Savings Plan", which is intended to finance the basic and secondary education of pupils in the Northern Region, was launched in Tamale on Thursday.
Mrs Sanatu Nantogma, Field Director of the Ghana Office of CCFC, who announced this at the launch, noted that child education sponsorship programmes needed to look beyond the provision of current basic needs of the pupils.
She said this proactive approach would ensure that the children go through senior secondary school and beyond to acquire skills to break the poverty cycle that had plagued the country, particularly northern Ghana.
Mrs Nantogma said even under the Free Compulsory Universal Basic Education (FCUBE) programme, pupils at the basic level are expected to pay minimal levies.
She said it was necessary to take advantage of the current system to make some savings for pupils through the children future education insurance plan to complement the efforts of their parents in taking care of their fees.
"Recent research in secondary and skills training schools indicates that a student needs a minimum of between two millions and 4.5 million cedis to enter secondary school initially, and to train as seamstress, tailor or hairdresser. "This amount of capital is not within the reach of many parents at a go," she said.
Mrs Nantogma said the plan was also creating an opportunity for the profit-making sector to participate in meeting the needs of the poor by modifying their rates to make them affordable and accessible to deprived parents and their children.
She said parents also should be encouraged to pay part of the money for their sponsored children.
The Field Director of CCFC Ghana Office mentioned education, water and sanitation, primary health care and micro-enterprise development as the main intervention areas of her organization.
Briefing the gathering on the plan, Mr Joseph Mumuni, the Regional Manager of Metropolitan Insurance Company, said the fundamental objective of the initiative was to grow the funds collected so that at the appropriate time (encashment date), the funds would be used to ensure that the beneficiaries remained in school. Mr Mumuni explained that there are provisions for the demise of either the beneficiary or the parent/guardian.
The Regional manager gave the assurance that his company, which is the second largest after the State Insurance Company (SIC), "as partners in this brilliant and innovative endeavour will manage the funds professionally, providing the best returns for the achievement of the objectives of the scheme".
The Deputy Northern Regional Minister, Mr Charles Bintim, who launched the plan said the cost of education from the basic to tertiary level had risen to such an extent that the government alone could no longer bear it.
He therefore expressed gratitude to CCFC for the initiative saying: "It is a step in the right direction laying a very good path for the future education of our children".
Mr Bintim described CCFC as "a very important partner in development ", noting that the NGO's areas of intervention are vital to both human and economic development of the country.
The Deputy Regional Minister cited the "Golden Age of Business" policy and said the government was giving the private sector the maximum support to grow as indicated in the 2004 budget to enable the sector to become the engine of growth of the country's economy.
School children from the beneficiary first cycle schools in the Tamale Metropolis, parent committees from CCFC operational communities, chiefs and District Directors of Education were among the gathering at the launch.