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January 22th, 2015
In 2013 Transmar Group worked with the USA-based NGO Empower Playgrounds to install two playgrounds in rural Ghana. The playgrounds have the ability to generate power used in lanterns that the children can bring home at night which benefits their ability to do homework and improve their education. These projects were implemented as part of Transmar Groups investment of premium payment in local cocoa communities.

The Playgrounds
The unique construction of the installed merry-go-rounds function by generating power when the children play on them to charge a battery (located in the school), which then in turn charges lanterns. The children are split into study groups, each with a group leader, and are then able to take a lantern home to their village at night and complete their homework and studies. Since all the villages which qualify for the installment of a merry-go-round have no power, the children would otherwise have to study by candlelight, which is not very bright, by kerosene powered lamps, which is expensive, or not at all. The ability to bring home a lantern is therefore a free, yet very effective way to provide a better learning environment for the children.

Ekorso Akwadum Primary School Eastern Region
The first playground was installed at Ekorso Akwadum Primary School in the Eastern Region of Ghana in 2012. There are 148 students currently enrolled at the school and 40 lanterns in use. Previously at this school, teachers never bothered to assign the students homework, since they knew it would not be able to be completed. Now, the students get additional assignments and are able to continue their learning in the evening.

One student said "By the time I had this lantern, it helped me to learn and do my homework. So, in the morning I take my work to my teacher to be marked for me. I am happy I got this lantern."

Bepotonutm Primary School Eastern Region
The second playground was installed at Bepotonutm Primary School in the Eastern Region of Ghana in 2013. 120 students are currently enrolled in the school, and 28 lanterns are in use. Through Transmar's funding, Empower Playgrounds also delivered three science kits to the school, including topics such as magnetic science and solar power. Since the merry-go-round was installed, three of the students have gone on to high school in the three years prior to the installation, only one child had continued education, so this is an increase.

One of the students, when asked about the program, said "When the lantern had not come, I didn't know how to do my homework, and if the teacher gave me homework, I could not complete it. But with the lantern, now I am successful."

A well-functioning project
We have been pleased to hear that there have only been few issues with the merry-go-rounds at the schools generally, they have been functioning well despite the rainy seasons and have continued powering the main battery which charges the lanterns.

Empower Playgrounds did notice that not as much charge was kept over the rainy season, and so changed out the batteries from standard AGM to Lithium to help hold more power despite changing weather conditions, and also as due to the rain the children were not playing on the equipment as frequently. This seems to have helped solve the issue. In addition, it has been reported that none of the lanterns have "grown feet" or become lost Empower Playgrounds attributes this to the small communities in which the playgrounds are installed, and the investment by the families and community to help the children further their studies.