Thomas Awiapo

Thomas Awiapo: Classrooms Without Walls Fail Children/Thirsty For Education

I was trapped into attending school just with a little snack provided by CRS in my village school about four decades ago and since then my life has never been the same. In the last decade, children all over the world are yearning for education like the deer that yearns for running water. I wonder what lures them to go to school these days, especially in the rural areas.

These children in the village of Nakpazong in the Northern Region of Ghana receive no snack. They don’t even have a school building. The shades of the tree is their school, the woods and the rocks their furniture and believe me or not some of these little kids walk several miles to their non–existent school. The difficulties I encountered trying to go to school in my village four decades ago are nothing compared to what these children are experiencing now in trying to fulfill their desire to go to school. To be frank, this is just the tip of the iceberg. It makes me wonder whether we are retrogressing or making progress in the effort to provide free compulsory basic education for all by 2015.

The question I have been asking myself since I visited this school is what at all motivates these children to go to school? Can it be the quest for knowledge? Can it be their desire and hope for a better future? While I was visiting the community to monitor the implementation of a borehole project awarded to them, I had the opportunity to interact with some of the pupils. I asked some of the kids what motivates them to come to school? Some of the children said they wanted to become teachers, others nurses and one even said he wanted to become a doctor. Wow! They certainly had better reasons and ideas why they were in school than I did. In my case, it was just for the hope of getting a little snack and anytime a snack was not served, I didn’t show up in school.

But how could they become teachers, nurses and doctors sitting under a tree as their classroom with absolutely no teaching and learning material and just a volunteer teacher who receives no pay? While governments, world bodies and organizations continue to sing the song of compulsory universal basic education for all by the year 2015, we need to be mindful of the millions of rural communities whose children cannot be in school at the slightest threat of rain or storm because there is no school building. We need to be mindful of those children who have to be content with just a volunteer teacher. In the words of Gene Sperling, “One of the silent killers attacking the developing world is the lack of quality basic education for large numbers of the poorest children in the world’s poorest countries.”

This will continue to prevail until more serious attention is paid to the rural and most deprived areas in various countries. Remember they are part of us and deserve as much attention if not more than the political and commercial cities. As the biblical saying goes, “Give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs God.”

– Thomas Awiapo
As a child in Ghana, Thomas Awiapo was a beneficiary of CRS school feeding programs. Now, as an adult, he works for CRS Ghana and travels to the U.S. annually to tell his inspiring story to American Catholics at schools, parishes and communities. Thomas will be a featured guest blogger and will be reporting from Ghana about the issues he witnesses firsthand.

Watch the video: Empowered for Life: The Thomas Awiapo Story.

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3 Responses to “Thomas Awiapo: Classrooms Without Walls Fail Children/Thirsty For Education”

  1. Jan Kline Says:

    Thomas.. what would it cost to actually build a school.. this is one of OUR VILLAGES… right? And could a group do it? Maybe we hve to bring Eduardo back…

  2. Sara Says:

    Thomas, thanks for sharing your experiences. I’m glad we now have a way to read about Ghana through the blog, and hear your voice. Looking forward to more posts, especially about water access and the strength of Ghanaian women. Keep sharing.

  3. James, Abugri Says:

    I am highly touched as his compelling story moves me down memory lanes. As my secondary school teacher and mentor, Mr Thomas Awiapo could identity students in real need and thoughtfully provide the needed moral and psychological support. I recall him telling me back at Notre Dame Seminary, that it all shall be well with education. Not only did I find myself in similar situations and benefited immensely from CRS food programme, but I also had the luxury of his inspiring and motivating words which kept me to my books during my Senior High School days.

    Mr. Thomas Awiapo I am proud of you and at this very moment I have decided support the course of the many deprived children in my own small way.

    James, Abugri

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