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Friday, 25 April 2014

Ken Donkoh - Giving Ghana's Poor Children Quality Education at an Affordable Cost

Meet Ken Donkoh, the CEO of Omega Schools Ghana, a low-cost private school chain that is currently giving affordable quality education to kids from poor homes in Ghana. For a daily school fee of 1.5 Ghana Cedis (about US$ 0.75), Omega students get uniforms, a school bag, work books and exercise books, and a hot daily lunch. The school franchise is attracting thousands of poor kids to school while making a very tidy profit.

Coming from a very poor background himself,  Mr Donkoh clearly understood the challenges poor people face when it comes to getting affordable quality education for their children. He observed that the pay-as-you-learn model would be popular among poor people as it allowed them to pay a daily school fee instead of the common monthly or term-based school fees.

Ken noticed that the astounding success of mobile phone companies in Africa, due to their pay-as-you-go service that allows millions of people to buy cheap call credit based on their incomes. That was when he hit his golden idea! He would develop a profitable low-cost private school chain that targets thousands of poor children in Ghana. Using a business plan he developed for this idea during his MBA, he approached Professor James Tooley, who is well-known for his groundbreaking research on private education for the poor in India, China and several parts of Africa.

The first school in the chain opened its doors on 1st September 2009. Ken Donkoh and Professor Tooley expected only 200 students to show up, instead, more than 400 kids showed up. By the end of the month, up to 1,000 students had been enrolled with 300 more on a waiting list! Today Omega Schools has more than 12,000 students in 20 schools across Ghana offering education from nursery to Junior High school.

To ensure its low cost structure, the school employs secondary school graduates as teachers. These guys are quick to learn, very enthusiastic to teach and don’t cost as high as university or government-trained teachers. With only 2 weeks of pre-service training, Omega’s young teachers become ready to take up the teaching challenge in its classrooms.

Its schools are open 7 hours a day compared to 4 hours at government schools. Omega’s low-priced private education model is attracting a lot of attention both locally and internationally. In mid-2012, Pearson, the giant UK-based education company announced that Omega schools would receive a portion of its $15 million investment fund targeted at providing affordable education to poor children in Africa and Asia.

With similar investments and its unique brand, Omega Schools plans to expand beyond Ghana into other countries of West Africa. It has already started making inroads into Sierra Leone, Liberia, Gambia and Africa’s largest market, Nigeria. Its franchise model makes it possible for these low-cost schools to spread fast thereby benefitting tens of thousands of African students.

Source - smallstarter


  1. stella olugbemi26 April 2014 at 03:04

    wow! what can I say. When you think of the poor, God himself pays you back. Welldone bro!

  2. I wonder if this will work in 9ja