‘We wanted to give children the opportunities we didn’t have’: Mitcham teacher sets up school in Ghana

A teacher from an academy in Mitcham has set up a school in Ghana after starting work on the vision with his wife nearly 20 years ago.

In 2006, Moses Mensah, 56, and his wife Philomena Mensah, 54, from Thornton Heath, used their own savings and a bank loan to buy land in Ghana and begin work to set up Oakhill Royal International School.

Now with more than 100 students, pupils at Oakhill are preparing to sit their first end-of-year exams this summer. 

Mr Mensah said: “The students are very excited to take their exams.

“I feel very proud knowing we have provided opportunities for these children to give them a positive future.

“My wife has made a massive contribution to all of this. I couldn’t have done it without her.”

Students studying during class at Oakhill Royal International School (Picture: Moses Mensah)

Mr Mensah and his wife moved to the UK from Ghana in the early 2000s, first living in Mitcham before settling in Thornton Heath.

He said: “My wife and I both came from humble backgrounds, and we wanted to provide children with opportunities that we didn’t have, giving them a good start in life.  

“We didn’t have any schools around and we have struggled through life to get to where we are now. 

“We want to help Oakhill students unlock their full potential and educate them for the world stage so that they can be true global citizens.”

Mr Mensah is a teacher at St Mark’s Academy in Mitcham, part of Anthem Schools Trust.

Philomena Mensah (Picture: Moses Mensah)

Hannah Fahey, principal at St Marks Academy, said: “Everyone at St Marks is so proud of Mr Mensah and his incredible achievement.  

“We are looking forward to hearing more from him about the progress of Oakhill and seeing how the school can learn from each other.”

St Mark’s Academy is an all-inclusive Church of England Academy which holds “love, hope and trust” as core values. Having worked there since 2006, Mr Mensah set up Oakhill to mirror these foundations. 

He said: “My work in Ghana comes from my experience in St Marks. 

Oakhill Royal International School in Ghana (Picture: Moses Mensah)

“All the training and skills I have learnt there have helped me. I’ve recently spoken to the principal about creating a partnership between the two schools so we could potentially organise an exchange programme in the future.”

Oakhill Royal International School, which also supports a local orphanage, offers the British IGCSE Cambridge Curriculum alongside the Ghanaian Curriculum so students and parents can decide which they would like to study. 

Pupils are also provided food and buses to and from their villages.

Children playing at the Oakhill Royal International School (Picture: Moses Mensah)

Mr Mesah said: “We do enrichment activities and take classes on trips to historic landmarks and the fire brigade service.

“We want children to gain cultural capital from their time at school.”

Mr Mensah leads the Senior Leadership Team at the school and spends every Sunday afternoon with them online crafting the activities for the following week.

He said: “It is a huge commitment but it is worth it.

“We are also facing challenges. We currently need a new water purification system, a new coach and funding to repair our computers which keep breaking down.

“We would welcome any donations to help with this.”

Pictured top: Moses Mensah (Picture: Moses Mensah)

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