Francis Abugbilla is a recipient of a Fellowship from the Marcy Migdal Fund for Educational Equality. The award supports exceptional students engaged in activities aimed at enhancing access to education for vulnerable students, either locally or throughout the world, and helping them succeed in their education. Click here to learn more about the Marcy Migdal Fund.
Francis Abugbilla is a PhD student in International Studies and a fellow at the International Policy Institute within the Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies. He researches on conflict resolution and peacebuilding mechanisms in post-conflict societies. His dissertation focusses on how post-conflict peacebuilding mechanisms affect the prospects of reconciliation in Africa.
Francis was born and raised in Kpantarigo, a small farming community which is not on the map of Ghana and does not have electricity. He walked for a long distance to attend his elementary school at a neighboring community because Kpantarigo had not got a school and he used kerosene lantern to study at night. He was in the 7th Grade when he saw a computer for the first time. It was in 2003, when his school was representing the district at a French quiz competition in the regional capital—Bolgatanga. Kpantarigo now has a kindergarten, primary, and junior high schools. He volunteered at the school for an academic year as a teacher and was touched by the needs of the school. As one of six to graduate from college and the only one to obtain a master’s degree and to start a PhD program, he serves as a role model in the community. Anytime he goes home, he tries to motivate students to take their studies seriously.
The District Education Office provided the school with five locally assembled (RLG) computers but the community does not still have electricity. The lack of electricity makes it impossible for the pupils to have practical computer lessons which is an examinable subject at the end of the junior high school exams. Pupils use kerosene lamps and torch lights to study at night and some trained teachers refuse posting to the community because there are no social amenities especially electricity. It is in the light of this challenge that Francis wants to bring solar electricity to the school, the teachers’ quarters, and eventually the entire community.
Currently, he is collaborating with students at the Clean Energy Institute, School of Environmental and Forest Sciences, and Electrical Engineering at the University of Washington to install solar panels at the school. They are also applying for grants to extend the project to the community. With his team, they are seeking to partner with KiloWatts for Humanity, a local Seattle NGO. AfriKids Ghana, a child rights NGO that is also working on renewable energy in communities without electricity in Ghana has agreed to collaborate with us. The funds from the Marcy Migdal Fellowship will help Francis and his team install solar panels at the school and teachers’ quarters in the summer/fall 2018. The funds will also buy a modem that will provide internet.