Edmund Pinto (Eddie) has been our Director in Ghana since the Turing Trust was founded in 2009. He has always been passionate about helping the disadvantaged students from poor rural areas to gain skills that will allow them to make a living in their local community. Here is his story – which explains why and helps understand some of the challenges that students from poor backgrounds in Ghana still face.
Eddie was born in Kumasi, but his parents moved to Accra when he was 2. At the age of 6 he decided he wanted to go back to Kumasi with his uncle to live with his grandparents in their compound in Accratown (a poorer area in Kumasi). His grandfather had a school so he didn’t have to pay school fees, but he had to work to be able to pay for his books and to help support his grandparents. So from a young age he was polishing shoes, selling eggs and even kerosene. But he was determined that he would somehow make it in life so that his children did not have to go through this. The compound house he lived in with his grandparents was shared by 10 families – most living in one room. He was lucky – his grandparents had 3 rooms, one for them, one for the children and one for his uncle and aunt.
After completing Senior High School, Eddie went on to Kumasi Polytechnic. During his time there, the teachers went on strike for 6 months – but rather than sit at home, Eddie and his friends decided to share their skills and organised a week’s training course for the community in Boadi – a village near Kumasi. They taught them how to do batik tie and dye that they could then sell to make a living – something that attracted the interest of national television.
National service followed – all students who complete tertiary education in Ghana have to do 1 year of National Service. And so Eddie went to work at Baworo ICCES – this was the first time he had lived in a village, but again he decided he really wanted to make a difference. So he set about changing things – encouraging the students to speak English, take their studies seriously and enjoy sports.
Eddie had enjoyed his time at Baworo and so took a job with the ICCES. But again there were challenges – the manager of the centre he was assigned to initially said that it wasn’t possible to have an ICCES at Jakobu as there wasn’t any accommodation for the students. But Eddie didn’t accept this and found some temporary accommodation until the local community supported the setup of the ICCES at Afoako, with a 3 classroom block and a hostel for the students – and the rest is history.
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