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Bikes- Access to Education

Bikes provide access to education by allowing students to stay in school rather than dropping out. As students move through the education system, there are often less options for secondary schools, forcing many students into longer commutes and possibly less areas of studies. Longer commutes translate into less energy in the classroom and less time for homework, making it harder to succeed in competitive fields.

The students above attend Kaneshie Senior High Technical School in Accra, Ghana. The Kaneshie Technical School is one of those rare schools offering specialized training in unique areas of study. The curriculum focuses on pre-engineering education with specific areas ranging from construction management to aviation engineering.The students unfortunately, don't live close to school. But they do all now have bikes, thanks to a One-Day Workshop offered through Village Bicycle Project (VBP).

Executive Director Taylor Jones visited this school this past spring while in Ghana. He wasn't surprised to meet students enrolled in the school who lived more than 30 miles away; if you are interested in engineering, this was the place to be. The cost and complications associated with those commutes, however, were shocking. He met one student who left home at 4am just to arrive to class on time, ready to learn.

Some students had to take taxis to get to school. Some students had to take more than one or two. It was time consuming to say the least. The student leaving home at 4am spent 6 hours a day commuting to school. More impactful on their families than time is the costs associated with lengthy commutes.If you were lucky enough to live close to a bus line, you could get to school for $6 a week. If you had to rely on private taxis, that could run as high as $60!

Knowing the hardships their students endured, the school applied for bikes through the One-Day Workshop program at VBP. They were chosen to receive 40 bikes, which were delivered in February. Students could apply to participate and for the opportunity to purchase a low cost bike through the program. The bikes essentially paid for themselves in a month at most, just by no longer paying for transportation.

The time saved, added hours to the students' days. These are the best and brightest public school students in Accra, who used that time to further their studies. The student who lived the furthest still ended up leaving home early, to avoid traffic for a safer commute, and could use that time at school for homework. The evenings were freed up to help with chores around the house and to care for siblings.

One requirement in the One-Day Workshops, which differs from a similar program offered through VBP called Learn to Ride, is the beneficiaries need to already know how to ride a bike. This negatively impacted how many girls were able to receive bikes through the program. There were only a handful of girls who already knew how to ride a bike. 

Abigail and Ester were two standouts. Abigail doesn't actually attend Kaneshie, but she heard about the bikes coming to her community and approached VBP. They found a bike for her and she and Ester picked up the maintenance training quickly and helped train other beneficiaries that day.

Abigail is a strong rider and enjoys racing. She is saving the money she spent on taxi rides to school to buy a racing bike to compete. Bikes for the World included a racing bike earmarked for Abigail in our last shipment, which just arrived this week. That shipment will also help expand VBP work, who intends on returning to the community to focus on teaching girls how to ride, specifically targeting them for inclusion and expanding access to the same opportunities as  boys.

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