Kuapa Kokoo in collaboration with Body Shop U.K held a ceremony to celebrate the completion of the New Betenase D.A Junior High School Block on Wednesday, 23rd March 2016.The inauguration of the school was attended by dignitaries such as Mr. Clement Sarpong (District Coordinator of Cocoa Health and Extension Division of Ghana COCOBOD) and Mr. David A. Agateba (District Director of Education), Mr.Fuachie (Representative of the Member Of Parliament), Mr. Albert Arthur (District Coordinating Director). Also in attendance were Nana Kwaku Donkor Azule (Chief of Betenase), Nana Kwaku Bio (Co-Founder of Kuapa Kokoo and a resident at Betenase).
Mrs. Rosie Akester (Body Shop representative from U.K),Mr. Appau Mensah Abrampah (Executive Secretary Kuapa Kokoo), members of the National Executive Council (NEC) of Kuapa Kokoo Farmers Union(KKFU),some staff of Kuapa Kokoo and people of Betenase community all graced the occasion.
Betenase zone, a community in the Western Region of Ghana is one of Kuapa Kokoo’s registered and active cocoa producing zones. The community has a total population of about One thousand and five hundred people. The community can boast a Water bore-hole project constructed by Kuapa Kokoo in January, 2013 and the Betenase D.A Primary School also in 2013.
Over the years, the community has faced some challenges in the education of students in the Junior High School Level .The Betenase D.A primary which holds fifty (50) pupils educates about 35 students to be promoted to the Junior High school level. Unfortunately, due to the absence of a Junior High school, students have to travel to Kofikrom, a community 3 miles away from Betenase to continue their Junior High. Students of Betenase walk this long distance every morning and make a return journey for tuition. This leaves the students tired when they get to school and are unable to concentrate and fully participate during class hours. To add to their plight, the road leading to Kofikrom is also very narrow one and as result, students have to find space in the bushes along the edges of the road to give way for passing vehicles. Students are sometimes bitten by Snakes and other dangerous animals as they ply the road. During rainy days, the situation gets even worse, when students get drenched in the water together with their bags and books. These challenges have discouraged schooling among the students and so students of Betenase mostly end their education at the lower primary level. For the 2015/16 batch of students to be registered for the Basic Education Certificate Examination (B.E.C.E), Betenase submitted only five (5) students. The next available batch of students (Form 2) class also has a total of 19 students. This low level participation of students all results from the difficulty in schooling in the area.
In 2012/13 academic year, the Betenase Junior High School commenced tuition, but unfortunately there wasn’t any posted teacher by the government to the school to support the few available teachers. Academic performance of the school was below average in that year. Fortunately for the community, the subsequent years of 2014 and 2015 saw five teachers being posted to assist students and pupils but the aforementioned challenges still remained.
Kuapa Kokoo saw the need to come to the aid of Betenase community to help alleviate these challenges. In doing so, they reached out to Body Shop U.K who they have already established a long standing partnership with over the years. Plans were laid out to build a Junior High school block for the Betenase community.
The Body Shop U.K is a British cosmetics and skin care company owned by L’Oreal. It was founded in 1976 by Anita Roddick and currently has a range of 1,200 products which it sells in 2,500 franchised stores in 61 countries.Body Shop U.K source quality Fair-Trade cocoa beans from Kuapa Kokoo in the production of its goods. It was Body Shop U.K which gave up all their share ownership in Divine
Chocolate U.K to Kuapa Kokoo and as a result made Kuapa Kokoo the biggest shareholder (45%) in Divine Chocolate-UK. As part of the vision of Body Shop U.K, it is dedicated to enriching people as well as working fairly with farmers and suppliers and helping communities thrive through its Community Trade program. With donation from Body Shop and efforts from Kuapa Kokoo, Betenase Community can now boast of a Junior High School Block. The School has a Library, Head Masters Office, an I.C.T Office, Staff Common Room and Three Classrooms. Each Classroom is estimated to hold about 30 -35 students.
Looking into the future, education among the students and people of Betenase is going to improve and the passion and zeal of students is greatly going to be stirred up. The future of Betenase looks Brighter that ever.
During the ceremony, Mr. Appau Mensah Abrampah, Executive Secretary of Kuapa Kokoo also expressed his gratitude to Body Shop U.K for their donation and the wonderful project they had helped put up. He thanked all dignitaries and members present for honouring the occasion. He highlighted on the numerous projects that Kuapa Kokoo had donated to its communities such as schools, sanitation facilities, mobile clinic, cash bonuses, Water bore-hole projects and other developmental projects. He explained that all these projects came out of the Fairtrade premium that the organization gained in its trade and donations from organizations as expressed by Body Shop U.K. He encouraged all farmers to register with Kuapa Kokoo and become a part of the Kuapa family.
Rosie Akester , Body Shop UK representative then gave a brief history on how Body Shop started as a small business by the late Anita Roddick some forty years ago in her small room. She said that Body Shop now is located in seventy (70) countries and they keep growing. Rosie Akester advised the people of Betenase to take care of the school block so that it continues to benefit not just Betenase but all nearby communities.
As part of the ceremony, Rosie Akester was crowned as the queen mother of Betenase community for her efforts and being a part of the ceremony. She was clothed in a beautiful and colorful traditional regalia.
Dignitaries at the grounds expressed their gratitude and encouraged other cocoa buyers to follow the shining example of Kuapa Kokoo.