Portobello High School gives old desks to Ghana schools

Zak and Sandra Abdulai from the charity Chance for Africa
Zak and Sandra Abdulai from the charity Chance for Africa
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Pupils at Portobello High School may not face a long trip to their classrooms when the long-awaited new premises opens for the first time next week.

However, the same can’t be said for a host of furniture from the former school, which has embarked on a much longer journey to its new home.

Zak Abdulai

Zak Abdulai

More than 2000 desks and chairs from the Duddingston Road building were yesterday loaded onto a shipping container bound for Ghana, where they will offer much-needed support to schoolchildren in some of the poorest parts of the West African nation.

The equipment, which has been deemed surplus to requirements in the new school, will be making the 4500-mile journey thanks to a collaboration with charity Chance for Africa.

The organisation’s founder, Zak Abdulai – whose wife Sandra attended the school – said the classroom equipment will help to provide vital learning assistance for the poorest children in the country.

“Many schools in Ghana lack basic materials like furniture and books necessary for learning and, in some schools, children unfortunately have to sit on the floor or buy or bring in their own chairs,” he said.

“The furniture very generously donated from Portobello High School will go a long way to providing students in Ghana with the resources that will better equip them to learn in a vastly improved learning environment.

“Pupils in Ghana will have the chance to discover where their furniture came from, how it got there, differences between cultures, beliefs and ideas as well as opportunity to develop lasting overseas friendships.”

Headteacher Ruth McKay gave her full backing to the initiative and said she was delighted the school could offer support to schoolchildren all over the world.

“We’re thrilled that Portobello High School can provide this much-needed support to schools in Africa,” she said.

“Having a new school is giving our pupils a fantastic learning opportunity so it’s only appropriate that we bear in mind children in other parts of the world who are less fortunate and do what we can to help them.”

Most of the equipment from the former school will be transferred over to the Milton Road premises when staff and pupils arrive for the first time next Thursday, however any surplus furniture and teaching materials has been donated to various causes.

In addition to Chance for Africa, homeless charity Fresh Start, The Edinburgh Scouts and Greyfriars Kirk have all benefited from equipment recycled from the old school.

Education leader Councillor Paul Godzik, believes the recycled furniture would be a great asset to organisations at home and abroad.

He said: “Education is the cornerstone of any society and donating these items to other schools – not just those in Africa but here in Edinburgh as well – is a great way of ensuring valuable resources continue to be used for the benefit of our young people’s learning.”