In order for Newmont to recruit and retain experienced senior managers who will live in MKV with their families, a school was necessary. This is due to the remoteness of the Ahafo Plant site and the dearth of quality education available in the area. The education of Newmont managers’ children started as a small-scale home-schooling exercise, which saw a small number of children being tutored in one of the bungalows on MKV. As this number gradually increased, a purpose-built school was constructed and was formally opened in 2007 with 27 students; by the end of 2008, this number had grown to 60 students and approximately 11 teachers and assistants.The school operated successfully for some time. Thereafter, with the support of International School Services (ISS), an American company which helps in the establishment and management of schools, the school grew to be successful enough to achieve accreditation from the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools, USA.
In 2014, Newmont wished to divest itself of the school and considered closing it down because the school was no longer viable to its operations. However, a small group of parents, with children at the school, decided to take it over in order to keep it open. Newmont agreed to continue funding the school on condition that, after a three-year period, the school would be financially independent and Newmont would withdraw all monetary support.
To this end, the school was re-established in January 2015 as a non-Newmont school, operating with a typical three-term year, new staff, curricular, leadership and management. The aim was to become financially independent within three years and this was to be done by opening up to the local community, under the oversight of a group of parents. The Head of School and the Business Manager were recruited to take on the project and to work with the parents in order to take the school forward as an independent entity. A comprehensive business plan was drawn up by the parents and presented to Newmont. Meanwhile, marketing materials were prepared in order to inform the community about the ‘new’ school. The Business Manager researched the fee structures of similar schools in Ghana, in order to set the fees that would be needed to cover the costs of the school, in the hope that after three years, the school could become financially independent.
However, within six months of being re-established, Newmont rescinded its decision and decided to re-own the school once again solely for the children of its senior managers who live in MKV, with an independent Board. The school and its administration were to run independent from Newmont, but with the funding provided by the company.
Understandably, this strategic decision had a significant impact on numbers, as the school is now exclusively dependent upon Newmont’s recruitment policies for its students. In August 2015, the number of students on roll dwindled from 31 to 19, this number increased to 27 in the 2018/2019 academic and is expected to fall to 19 by the start of the 2019/2020 academic year. The Board is currently thinking about strategies to increase student numbers. Newmont confirmed the decision to re-own the school through a Memorandum of Understanding which was agreed and signed on 5th May 2017. A clear challenge for the new Head of School is to work with the Board to explore ways in which enrolment at the school can be increased within the Newmont community.
In May 2019, the school was accepted for membership of the Council of International Schools (CIS). This is a huge milestone for the school and demonstrates that it is maintaining expectations and standards that are equivalent to other good international schools around the world. Only three other schools in Ghana have membership of (or accreditation from) CIS. The school is clearly punching above its weight!