This month we take a deeper look at Our Lady of Holy Cross School (OLHCS) in Kasoa, Ghana, in West Africa, and its growth. The school, which the Sisters of the Holy Cross began in 2007 with just a few students, has grown to nearly 1,000 students today. While the growth has been a blessing, the school has had to adapt quickly.
Our Lady of Holy Cross School (OLHCS) is a sponsored ministry of the Sisters of the Holy Cross. Pre-school through junior high education is offered in the Holy Cross tradition. Beyond education of the mind, the school seeks to prepare students to make a difference in their world and communities.
After-school workshops are provided to both students and parents on a variety of topics including parenting, hygiene and studying techniques. OLHCS is unique in offering this training to parents in Ghana.
The quality of education delivered at the school is reflected in the high test scores received by students, especially junior high school students who must take a qualifying exam to move on to high school. In recent years, 100 percent of students passed the proficiency examination and a large percentage earned the highest level of scores, qualifying them to enter the most selective high schools in their geographic areas. The school is empowering students to achieve their dreams and reach their fullest potential.
Although rapid enrollment growth is exciting, it also comes with challenges. In just five years, the school nearly doubled its enrollment. This put a strain on existing resources important to delivering high-quality education and keeping students safe. Thanks to the loving hearts of many friends and benefactors, the school has been able to respond to these challenges and even offer new and innovative programs.
Parent and student workshops
This year, Sister Martina Dery, CSC, will implement an after-school counseling program with students and their parents. The program, funded by donations to the Ministry With the Poor Fund, will help students nurture their self-esteem and realize they have God-given gifts and talents to share with the world. It will also include education for parents to help them support their children through nonviolent communication methods developed to build up the child. These strategies focus on positive reinforcement and anger management for children working through these emotions.
For the first time, Sister Martina will be addressing social media use by children. This has become a concern that is not only distracting students from learning, but exposing them to images and ideas contrary to God’s message of love of neighbor. Sister Martina will provide resources to help parents navigate the tricky waters of social media.
“Most parents in Ghana don’t even know how to operate their phones apart from making and receiving calls. In this way, it’s very hard for them to monitor or control how their children use social media. Some children can be sucked into a world of fraudulent activities and others are at risk for being kidnapped,” said Sister Martina.
Access to clean water
Access to clean water on the African continent is a chief concern, especially for schools; keeping students healthy is central to their academic success. OLHCS had purchased a water purification system a few years ago but with the enrollment growth, the demand on that equipment was threatening the school’s reliable access to clean water. Sister Esther Adjoa Entsiwah, CSC, headmistress of the school said, “The machine was regularly breaking down because it was being used so much. It was designed for half of the demand being placed on it.” Thanks to a grant from the Conrad N. Hilton Fund for Sisters, a second water purification system was purchased. Individual donations collected through the Ministry With the Poor Fund have supported needed repairs to the underground water storage tank which holds the pumped water before it is purified. Students now have four collection points to fill their water bottles and can even fill their bottles to take home. The additional machine also ensured safe water is available for those attending large meetings at the school such as Parent Teacher Association meetings.
Expanded housing and transportation
The school opened its first dormitories this year, providing safe housing for 300 students. With tutoring available, students will be able to study on-site helping them achieve success. The living accommodations will make an OLHCS education a reality for many who were previously unable to consider the school due to living great distances away. This will also help regarding the need for transportation which has been an ongoing issue eased by the arrival of a new school bus, thanks to the giving hearts of the Saint Mary’s College community in Indiana.
The school is working to raise funds to provide furniture for the new dormitories. It is also transitioning to solar power to provide a clean and stable source of electricity. Currently, the school has installed enough solar panels to power two classrooms to aid those who study in the evening, and it hopes to completely convert to solar over the next few years.
You may donate online to help Our Lady of Holy Cross School. Choose “Other” as the fund and put “Ghana School” in comments.
We are grateful to generous donors and benefactors who have been there to help the school find solutions and expand its reach, touching the hearts of as many students and their parents.