Education  Ghana Project #24631

EduFinance: Breaking Barriers to Quality Education

by Opportunity International Vetted since 2009 Site Visit Verified
Charles at Top Care School
Charles at Top Care School

Every day, Charles is determined to live up to the name of his schoolTop Care. He chose the name because of his passion for children having a chance to learn in the best environment possible. Over the years, Charles has made dozens of improvements with the help of Opportunity School Improvement Loans, including the addition of new classrooms and dormitories. As a result, student enrollment has grown from 24 students in 2005 to now more than 890. Charles plans to use his next loan to expand his schools boarding facilities again in order to provide more girls from rural communities with a safe place to live while they access quality education.

Charles is not the only one who has been impacted by the Education Finance program at Opportunity International. Since 2008, Opportunity has delivered more than 180,000 loans valuing $105 million to improve schools and get kids in the classroom. We have been able to provide 2.3 million children with access to a quality education in their own communities. In addition to this, Opportunity's EduFinance portfolios have created 290,000 new sustainable seats in affordable classrooms and supported 96,000 new jobs within the educational ecosystem.

However, education is more than just a seat in the classroom. Opportunity puts quality first, and with the launch of Education Quality, Opportunity’s EduFinance initiative, quality is emphasized. The program offers the only approach that addresses the capital needs of parents and school owners while deepening the skills and competencies of local teachers and staff–all within a sustainable, low-cost framework that can be replicated worldwide.

Opportunity is currently delivering this Education Quality program in five countries, in which 630 schools receive support through our school cluster system. School clusters are groups of 4-12 schools that join together to collaborate on curriculum, share best practices, receive training, and build local standards of excellence to improve student outcomes.

By supporting Opportunity’s EduFinance initiative, you are accelerating the achievement of education for every child around the world. Parents everywhere want to give their children a good education and a chance to escape generational poverty. Educators are stepping up to fill the gaps left by public school systems. By providing access to capital, training, and local support, you are providing the catalyst for affordable private schools to rapidly expand and improve in the most marginalized communities and continue doing so long after our first intervention.

A student at Top Care
A student at Top Care

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In 2015, after listening to many educators express the need for additional support in improving students’ learning outcomes, Opportunity launched a new arm of EduFinance, called Education Quality, to help local educators work together in transforming education in their communities.

With the launch of Education Quality (EdQuality), Opportunity’s EduFinance initiative now offers the only approach that addresses the capital needs of parents and school owners, while also deepening the skills and competencies of local teachers and staff—all within a sustainable, low-cost framework that can be replicated worldwide.

Opportunity’s EdQuality services were developed in coordination with industry leaders around the world, and integrates best-in-class, sustainable quality improvement strategies with technology-based assessments to track schools’ progress over time, ensuring Opportunity’s interventions lead to lasting results.

School Clusters are small, self-led networks of socially-focused private schools that work together to spark collaboration, share of best practices, and provide professional support. Opportunity works through the cluster model to deliver trainings and resources to teachers and school leaders.

Pathways to Excellence (P2E) is a first-of-its-kind assessment tool developed by Opportunity that measures a school’s strengths and weaknesses across 30 domains, including learning environment, pupil achievement and learning, teacher retention, community engagement and early childhood development.

  1. School leaders self-assess their schools using P2E to internally benchmark where their school stands on the quality spectrum.
  2. Self-assessments are then compared to objective, external assessments to pinpoint important areas for improvement.
  3. School leaders, with their Opportunity Education Specialist, then work together to create a school development plan highlighting the steps to take to achieve the school’s quality improvement goals. 

Like you, Opportunity knows that everywhere, parents want to give their children a good education. The good news is educators are stepping up to fill the gaps left by public school systems. Access to capital, blended with trainings and localized support, provides the catalyst for affordable private schools to rapidly expand and improve—and continue expanding and improving, long after Opportunity’s first intervention.

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Joanna, a School Proprietor in Ghana
Joanna, a School Proprietor in Ghana

The nearby government schools in Joanna community aren’t able to offer local children the quality education they deserve—which is why so many children stay home to help their parents with farming or childcare rather than attending school. Joanna knew she could help, so five years ago, she started a school of her own to give local children a chance to learn.

Joanna invested her savings and purchased land and a small wooden structure for her first classroom. After enrollment quickly increased, Joanna applied for a loan with Opportunity to build two new classrooms to accommodate a wider age range of children, ensuring older siblings could stay in school instead of staying home to care for the younger children while their parents worked in the fields. Joanna also used part of the loan to dig a well, which has become an invaluable resource for the students and staff. With easy access to clean water, it is much easier to cook and keep the children clean and healthy. The school’s enrollment has grown as more parents see the benefit of sending their children to Joanna’s school. Today, her school serves approximately 250 students, providing them with the opportunity to learn important skills and break the cycle of poverty. Joanna plans to use her next loan to build bathrooms to further improve her school and increase attendance.

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Mary Florence was working as a primary school teacher when her husband passed away from AIDS. Left to raise her seven children on her teacher’s salary, Mary Florence worked tirelessly to make sure she could provide food and shelter for her children, as well as afford to send them to good schools. She knew many of her neighbors also struggled to find and pay for quality education, so she decided to open up a small home school in her community with just three children to start.

Due to the small size of her school, Mary Florence was unable to earn enough money to buy supplies and other necessary materials. Then a parent told her about Opportunity. Mary Florence took out a small loan to build her first classroom – and her school has only grown from there.

Over the last decade, Mary Florence has received more than ten loans from Opportunity, which she has used to continue building her school and to purchase textbooks, lab equipment, and computers. Now, her school employs 50 neighbors and serves about 500 students in primary and secondary school, with an additional 100 infants and toddlers in her nursery section. She plans to continue expanding her school by adding a boarding section to improve attendance and standards.

“I feel so happy and so blessed with Opportunity for really supporting this whole cause by helping us get the money to work and to be able to support our children.”

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Opportunity's EduFinance program bridges the gaps in funding for low-income and school proprietors in developing countriesTo this day, this program has facilitated school improvement loans for 489 schools while 264 schools have participated in our Education Quality program. 20, 087 of the kids that Opportunity has reached so far reside in Kenya. 

Kawangware is a slum in Nairobi, Kenya where Regina has been a resident since 1992. Having taught in government schools for many years, she saw the need for education in the community around her. With only three students and a small rental space in the slums, Regina founded the Revelation Ushindi School in 2002. 

Regina registered as soon we opened our office in Kenya, thus making her one of Opportunity's very first clients. Her first loan was used to rent a small room for the initial group of students but she has expanded greatly since then. She has, over the course of 9 years, paid teachers' salaries, bought textbooks and food for her pupils and maintained rental payments on what is now a large property. All this has been achieved by paying back and taking out new loans with Opportunity.  

Her school is a good quality facility that has not only created opportunities for children in the area but also working. Regina's school currently serves 80 pupils at full capacity which has led to the hiring of five people in her community, 4 teachers and a cook. The school has gained approval in the community for being affordable and clean. Although an education is a basic necessity, it is a scarce one, which is why Regina is happy to provide it to her community and considers this her biggest achievement. 

Despite continually facing the challenges that come with serving students in extreme poverty, Regina remains positive through it all. She continues to serve her pupils even when their parents are unable to pay school fees because she values the potential she sees in the children more than monetary value and has a deep love for her community. 

Regina's hope in the future is to expand her school outside of the slum. The current location comes with many distractions while moving to a new location would allow for a large fenced space and the enrollment of new students. 

 

 

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Organization Information

Opportunity International

Location: Chicago, IL - USA
Website: http:/​/​www.opportunity.org
Project Leader:
Ian Haisley
Chicago, IL United States

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