Category Archives: Alumni Highlights

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Congratulations! Change is Coming. A Big Thank You to All

Category:Alumni Highlights,Highlights

Prempeh Endowment Fund

SEP 14, 2018 —

The Prempeh Endowment Fund (PEF) wants to thank every Amanfoo and non-Amanfoo sympathizers who took the time to sign the petition (https://chn.ge/2wXwvoX) against the Board of Governors for selling the school’s land. Over 500 Amanfoo signed the petition that went directly to the Minister of Education, Dr. Matthew Prempeh among others. That, and several protests from other stakeholders, made our voices heard loudly and clearly on this matter.

We are pleased that the minister has heard our plea and has taken the following decisions:

  1. Ordered a halt to all illegal construction on school lands including the demolition of existing structures
  2. Disbanded the school board which had no authority to approve such sales
  3. Ordered Ghana Education Service (GES) to look into the role of the headmaster in this affair
  4. Ordered the formation of an interim management committee to oversee the school during the transition period

We cannot emphasize enough the importance of Amanfoo coming together and organizing under one true global agenda with the school at the heart of it in order to safeguard and protect the school’s interests and work going forward. The current engagement and participation by Amanfoo in contributing their voices to prevent the sale of school lands should serve as a cautionary note for lack of engagement and apathy with respect to school matters.

In that spirit, we are launching the Alumni Selection Committee (ASC) which we will be the representative body for all alumni globally to help drive a new level of global engagement and representation of every graduating year group. Please go to www.prempeh.com to register and read more about the ASC. You may also send an e-mail to directors@prempeh.com for information on how to participate in the ASC.

NAPO dissolves Prempeh College Board; halts sale of school lands
The Minister of Education, Dr. Mathew Opoku Prempeh, has dissolved the Governing Board of Prempeh College over its…
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The Prempeh College Endowment (PEF) establishes mobile payment for alumni

Category:Alumni Highlights,Other

Greetings alumni worldwide,

Thanks to Dr. Victor Agyeman, Executive Director of CSIR (Center for Scientific and Industrial Research), PEF has established an MTN mobile payment number for worldwide contributions to be made in Cedis (GHS).

So, if you are in Ghana then you can make your regular or monthly contributions towards the Endowment. Please find information below:

Colleagues please make all payments in Ghana Cedis to the following:

NAME: PREMPEH ENDOWMENT FUND (PEF)
MOBILE NUMBER: 0243455712

Sincerely,

The Directors


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Frequently Asked Questions

Category:Alumni Highlights

Q1.        What is an Endowment Fund and Why Do We Need One for Prempeh?

A1.       First, let’s start with what an endowment fund is not. An endowment fund is not just a bank account with folks contributing money to be used to fix the school’s problems. An endowment fund is set up with both the governance and legal framework that allows the school to adopt a best practice for giving through which it can raise funds and have constant annual flow of funds to address emerging challenges in a sustainable manner.  The goal is to give the school a responsible, accountable tool to invest in educational programs and infrastructure.  The Prempeh Endowment Fund (PEF) has been set up with the legal requirement to solely benefit Prempeh College.

Q2.      How many endowment funds for the school are in existence at the moment?

A2.       Besides the PEF, we are not aware of any formally registered endowment fund(s) in existence today with the legal construct as discussed above in response to Q1.

Q3.      Is the PEF owned by or belongs to the Class of ‘79?

A3.       No. There is no concept of individual ownership of the PEF and it certainly does not belong to the Class of 79.  The PEF is an independent corporate entity established for all Amanfoo and operates as such under US laws. While the interest to establish an endowment fund has been an abstraction of many, a few committed individuals from that class, with relevant experience in such matters, spearheaded the formation of the PEF.

Q4.      Why was the PEF set up as a fully independent corporate entity?

A4.      After consulting with several educational funds, obtaining input from anticipated donors, and upon seeking legal advice, it became absolutely apparent that the endowment fund be legally separated from any association or membership organization in order to protect the fund from reputational, regulatory and other risks that may emanate from the operation of an association or may be associated with an individual outside of its scope.

Q5.      What does PEF work on behalf of the school?

A5.      The PEF requires the creation of a School Plan that includes a set of annual and multi-year plans to guide how we collectively fund the school’s priorities on top of what the government provides.

Q6.      Is the PEF fully operational with a complete structure and plan for Amanfoo to get to work?  In other words, can we be doing anything in the interim?

A6.       While a great deal has been accomplished there remains a lot of work to do in order to get the PEF to the desired state.  There is a lot that can be done in the interim. Since all the work is being done on voluntary basis, any Amanfoo or year group is more than welcome to assist by contacting the directors of PEF at directors@prempeh.com

Q7.      Is the Fund limited only to Amanfoo in North America?

A7.       No, there is no concept of limiting the fund to Amanfoo in North America or any one geographical area for that matter.  Anyone, anywhere, who wants to donate to the fund is welcome to do so; we currently have donors from the US, UK and Ghana who have all given directly to the Endowment.  The Endowment operates and is managed in the US where the laws governing educational funds are strong.  The universal nature of the EF does not introduce any additional level of complexity.  Anybody giving to the fund does not alter the intent of the fund or how the fund operates.

Q8.      What role, if any, are the various Amanfoo Associations around the world expected to play?

A8.       It is expected that all Amanfoo will work together to build up the size of the fund pool.  The Amanfoo associations should be the forums for engaging alumni in all fund-raising activities.  Thus, they become partner organizations to the PEF in order to execute on the school’s 1-year, medium and long term plans.

Q9.      What is a 1-year plan for Prempeh College?

A9.       The 1-year plan is nothing but the operating budget for the school year that captures the maintenance and the set of prioritized projects to be completed for the school year. This is a plan for the full year’s expenditures and sources of funds

Q10.    In what ways can one invest or make a donation towards the mission of the School?

A10.     One can definitely contribute their time to assist in putting together all the necessary structures to enable the desired state of the PEF.  In addition, Amanfoo can make financial contributions to the fund.  There are 4 contribution types:

1) Unrestricted donation — Allows the Fund to allocate funds where the need is greatest

2) Committed donation — Donate to the Fund towards a specific and defined prioritized project

3) Benefactor — A benefactor can stipulate in their will and bequeath assets to the Fund

4) Partner donors — External funds solicited from other private foundations

Q11     Will the fund be professionally managed at some point?

A11.     Presently, the fund is professionally managed by Fidelity Investments, Inc.  A first draft of an investment committee is being discussed now.  Amanfoo with the required statutory background experience in line with the fund governance are invited to participate.  This committee interfaces with the fund manager.  Express your interest to serve by contacting the directors (directors@prempeh.com)

Q12.    Are year groups supposed to fund these short, medium and long term projects through contributions to a specific fund under the PEF?

A12.     Not quite.  The school plan will have short, medium and long-term plans. Each of those plans will have activities and projects in them.  The PEF then goes out and raises funds for them.  If a new source of funding comes in the form of a class fund, then the PEF works with that source to make sure there is a fit.  For example, let’s say there is a donation that is committed to a specific project from a year group.  The year group can then decide to set up the Class Fund and when they are ready, fund the project. They may choose to do a medium term or long term project.

Q13.    Will the fund be housed in Ghana or in the US?

A13.     Funds raised in GHS will be domiciled in Ghana; funds raised in other currencies will be invested with Fidelity Investments, Inc. in the USA.

Q14.    Why is it registered as an NGO in Ghana or is it because it is a special purpose Fund?

A14.     This was done for tax reasons and also to simplify interactions with external educational donors

Q15.    Will Fidelity Investments, Inc. employ a local fund manager to invest the Ghana domiciled funds in local instruments?

A15.     The PEF has had that discussion with Fidelity Investment. The advice we received was to focus GH domiciled funds on short-term projects and immediate needs of the school.  PEF is working with Ecobank of Ghana to take on the responsibility of investing funds locally.

 


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How to Turn Around a Failing School

Category:Alumni Highlights

To say that school reforms are a contested area is something of an understatement. There are some strongly held opinions in education about what improves a school, such as raising teaching standards and reducing class sizes.

Our findings challenge some of these beliefs. To understand how to turn around a failing school quickly, using as few resources as possible, we studied changes made by 160 UK academies after they were put into remedial measures by the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills (OFSTED) up to seven years ago. (In the UK, an academy is a publicly funded school or group of schools. One school can acquire others to form a group, which shares resources, making investment easier and cuts less painful. Academies have devolved decision-making powers, bypassing local government.)

This provided us with the rare opportunity to look at a large number of organizations which all:

  • Are regulated, documented, and measured in the same way
  • Provide a similar service
  • Have made similar changes

However, each academy:

  • Made these changes in a different order
  • Operated in regions with different levels of competition and access to resources

This is research gold, as it’s possible to isolate variables and understand the impact of changing them. For example, we were able to say 30 academies made X change, while 40 didn’t, and then draw conclusions from the differing outcomes. We could analyze the effects of 58 types of investment, on 18 performance measures over time, in 160 academies operating in 18 different regions. We were given full access to the academies’ management information systems, leaders, staff and students so we could see how they worked, the decisions they’d made and the impact they’d had.

So what did we find? Like any turnaround, there is no magic bullet — a series of remedial steps need to be taken. And each step’s impact depends and builds on the previous steps in the sequence, as well the school’s location, because the latter determines access to good leaders, teachers, and students.

Here are recommendations based on the effective (and ineffective) practices we uncovered:

Don’t improve teaching first. This was a very common mistake. Many schools tried to improve teaching while still struggling with badly behaving students, operating across a number of sites or having a poor head of school in charge. You can’t expect teachers to sort out all the problems themselves — you need to create the right environment first.

Do improve governance, leadership, and structures first. Otherwise, you’re putting great teachers in a position where they fail — they’ll waste time doing or managing the wrong things.

Don’t reduce class sizes. While reducing class size works, it is not the best use of resources. It is expensive and you can create the same impact by improving student motivation and behavior, which takes fewer resources. We found class sizes of 30 performed as well as class sizes of 15, when standards of student behavior had been addressed first.

Do improve student behavior and motivation. The best way to create the right environment for good teachers is to improve student behavior and motivation. Controversially, we found that the fastest way to do this is to exclude poorly behaved students: Pay other schools to teach them or, as most academies did, build a new, smaller school for these students. However, while this “quick win” produced immediate results, it was not the best long-term solution (and indeed, it’s probably not the best solution for society either). The better, more sustainable practice was to move poorly behaved students into another pathway within the existing school, so that they can be managed differently and reintegrated into the main pathway once their behavior has improved.

Don’t use a “zero tolerance” policy. Many schools tried to come down hard on poor behavior with a “zero tolerance” policy. However, the short term, positive impact didn’t last and in some cases, students revolted and even rioted.

Do create an “all through” school. Keep students from the age of five until they leave at ages 16 or 18. In this way, school leaders can create the right culture early on and ensure that poor behaviors never develop. It also makes teaching at secondary school level (age 11 up) much easier, as you don’t have to integrate older students with different views about standards.

Don’t use a super head. Many academies parachuted in a “super head” from a successful school to turn themselves around. Although this had a positive short-term impact, it didn’t create the right foundations for sustainable long-term improvement. These “super heads” tended to be involved only for one to two years and focused their changes on the school year (ages 15–16) and subjects (mathematics and english) used to assess performance, so they could make quick improvements, take the credit, and move on.

In every case, exam results dipped after the “super head” left and only started improving three years later. The new head spent up to $2 million cleaning up the mess created by diverting attention, resources, and teaching capability from other age groups and subjects.

Do improve all year groups. Although schools can improve short-term performance by cutting and reallocating resources, they will not create sustainable improvement unless they invest in all age groups and subjects.

Don’t expect inner city schools to be more difficult. Another common view is that it is more difficult to turn around an inner city school. However, we found it is easier, as they have greater access to good leaders, teachers, and students.

Do invest more in rural and coastal schools. It is more difficult to attract good leaders, teachers and students in rural and coastal areas. Improvement was much slower in these regions.

 

Don’t expect spending more money to solve your school’s problems any faster… More resources can help to overcome specific challenges, such as attracting good leaders and teachers, but at least in these 160 British academies, what mattered most to the overall speed of improvement was making the right changes in the right order. 

…But, at the same time, don’t expect to improve without spending more, at least in the short term. To improve student learning, schools must have the basic resources they need to improve student behavior, pay higher salaries to attract good teachers, and employ staff to manage parents so teachers can spend more time teaching and leaders can spend more time leading. Expect financial performance to dip in the short-term. Pursuing financial performance over operational performance will not serve students well in the long term. 

There are three key learnings from this research. First, you need to create the right environment before improving teaching standards. Great teaching is wasted without the right governance, leadership, and structures, with well-behaved students.

Second, the most significant improvement occurred when schools changed their students by excluding poor behavior, creating multiple pathways for students with differing needs and creating a school for ages five through 16–18. This change consistently improved performance more than any other.

Third, you have to plan for a dip in financial performance before your exam results will improve. You either need to part of a larger group (such as a multiacademy trust) with access to the resources you need to get through this dip. Or, acquire another school early on in your journey to increase your revenue and spread your costs across a larger number of students. 


Alex Hill is a Co-Founder and Director of The Centre for High Performance, an Associate Professor at the University of Kingston and a Visiting Professor at a number of universities around the world. He previously worked at the University of Oxford and spent ten years in various divisions of the Smiths Group, a large engineering multinational. Twitter: @cfhperformance


Liz Mellon is the Founder and Chair of the Editorial Board for the Duke Corporate Education journal, Dialogue. She was previously the Indian Regional Managing Director at Duke CE, a Professor of Organisational Behaviour at London Business School and spent twelve years in the Department of Trade and Industry. Twitter: @lizmellonduke


Jules Goddard is a Fellow of London Business School and formerly Gresham Professor of Commerce at City University.


Ben Laker is a Co-Founder and Director of The Centre for High Performance, a Lecturer at Kingston University and a Visiting Professor at the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy. He previously spent ten years as a turnaround consultant.


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