Accra, Aug 21 (IANS) "This is just the beginning of what we planned but we want to be at the top," says Indian industrialist Mukesh Thakwani, whose company has taken a $16 million loan to build an international school here which he hopes will become an educational landmark not just in Ghana, but in West Africa, to provide affordable education for all.
In just two years, the Delhi Public School - which began in the Indian capital in 1949 and now has 150 branches, the bulk of them in India and 13 in 10 foreign countries - is challenging the existing international schools in the Ghanian capital, Thakwani said.
Two of its students are representing Ghana at international competitions in the US and Hong Kong.
"I am highly delighted that Rohzi Sahjwani is representing Ghana at the Spelling Bee Competition in the US and Kapila Kommareddy is going to Hong Kong to prove why he won the mathematics competition in Ghana. All this shows that DPS is proving to be a school of a different class," Thakwani, who came to Ghana 20 years ago to set up a steel mill and has stood personal guarantee for the bank loan to build the school, told IANS.
"The idea of the school in Ghana is to help build society rather than make money out of an educational facility," Thakwani added.
He said teachers of DPS Ghana are all set to ensure that the school provides high standard of education that the DPS brand is noted for. "There is no single international school in West Africa that is providing the sort of education that one can get at this school," he added.
"What will differentiate DPS Ghana from similar schools in West Africa is the high quality of facilities available which are not found in other schools in the region, in addition to the fact that the school is opening its doors to all because of its affordability."
"When I arrived in Ghana, my desire to build a top-class school where the fees would be affordable to all but with the same high level of teaching started to develop. I am happy that after 20 years, l am able to build the school of my dream that is available to many people from diverse backgrounds," the industrialist explained.
For this reason, the fees have been kept very low: $1,000 per term against the average $3,000 charged by most of the international schools of the same standard.
"This is to make the school a place where many people can send their children to and the fulfilment of my dream to provide affordable and top-class education in Ghana," said Thakwani, who is also director of steel manufacturer B5Plus Group.
"Our company has taken a loan of $16 million with my personal guarantee to ensure that the school is built to international standards.
"One can describe it as part of B5Plus' corporate social responsibility, but it is also my personal belief that if you want to build a society, you must develop the people through education. That is why DPS Ghana must be seen serving society rather than as an economic venture," the industrialist said.
The school started in September 2011 with 300 students from Ghana, India, Cote d'Ivoire, the US, Canada, Togo and Nigeria. It now has 900 students and is equipped with top-class facilities that are designed to give the students the right atmosphere for high academic training.
"DPS Ghana is different from other international schools in Ghana because of the holistic approach to teaching," Thakwani said, adding that the teachers take extra classes for those who require these after school hours.
"In addition, we have built the biggest amphitheatre in the school with a capacity of 2,000 as well as sports facilities, which, all together, provide holistic education to its students," he said.
Contrary to initial fears that the school was being set up to serve the Indian community in Ghana, Thakwani said: "The students of other nationalities in the school is higher than the number of children from Indian backgrounds," adding he hoped the school would grow to admit 2,000 students.
(Francis Kokutse can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)