Tuesday, 30 September 2008

The Come Back 2

This post is a continuation of an earlier one, The Come Back, that describe the teenage years of my career. As a teenage boy leaving my parents, as part of my education, to a boarding school in the remote part of the country that landed me doing business and accounting subjects. The decision that was to be made after those years was to go on a full-time university, work full-time or combination of the two on a part-time basis.

I landed a job in an auditing practice  as an audit trainee. Computers were not that common those days. The available ones were using Microsoft Disk Operating System (MS DOS) that allow users to perform commands using a text-based programming language. I had to learn these commands rote to get things done apart from manually writing clients accounts books on ledger sheets from almost incomplete records. It was a test time for me as most of the clients had small businesses and needed a financial statement for tax purpose or requirements of the register of companies. I was in the practice for almost two years and decided to further my studies. Though qualifying for a place in a tertiary institution in the first place, I thought as at then to gain enough work experience. The work training broaden my perspective about life and it was time to move on.

I then enrolled at Institute of Professional Studies (IPS),  the institution that trains professional accountants and secretaries, on a part-time basis while continuing my job training at the accountancy firm. After three years of studies, I was to do a compulsory national service for two years. I left my city job for a rural post of Resource Personnel for Enhancing Opportunities for Women in Development (ENOWID) project. I was training the village women in records and accounting bookkeeping apart from providing them with management services on how to run their small businesses. Part of the project was the giving of micro credit to these women who have no knowledge of western form of business. I travelled the length and breath of these villages first in small vans loaded beyond capacity with sheep, goats, chicken food stuffs and human beings and then on small boats since some of the villages were not accessible by road. Volta lake I was finally given a jump bike to make my trips. Sometimes when I sit back to reflect on these experiences, I see how dangerously I was leaving, travelling on those boats without a life jackets and overloaded with all sort of stuff was something I didn't realise as at the time. I am poised to go back there and make a life changing experiences for those villagers.

After these periods with the villagers I continued with similar activities for a Church Organisation after my national service. This organisation, Evangelical Presbyterian Church, Ghana was mother's church were we grew up and worship together. This time I was to visit branches in villages to help them sort their financial records. After a few months, I thought it was now time to go back to city. I was employed by one of the big shipping companies in the harbour city of Tema were I was subjected to handling big and numerous accounting reconciliations. It was a place that changed my career forever. This would be the content of the next blog on this series.

Related blog:

The Come Back

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Saturday, 27 September 2008

Closing the Gap with Africa

As the clouds gather for next month's (October) Black History Month (BHM), there is one particular organisation, A Serendipitous Production (ASP) Ltd, which is launching Film Education Programme as part of the festival. 

The UK Government has made it a Millennium Ghana SchoolsDevelopment Goal to encourage intercultural twinning between UK schools and their peers in Africa. ‘Closing the Gap’ films aims to show the next generation of UK school children the breadth and variety of African life, and reflect the positivity and enthusiasm not shown on main stream media. The project begins in London in September.

With the support of Film London, the organisers are able to offer schools up to a 50% discount for director led screenings, and question & answer sessions. Schools will have the opportunity to choose from 14 short films, including 5 titles from UK charity Worldwrite a UK based charity with a remit to develop and provide educational projects and programmes which promote international understanding. Closing the Gap Trailer, the original idea for ‘Closing the Gap’  was born out of ASP’s latest feature length documentary From Hay to Timbuktu.

As Director Akua Ofosuhene researched these government sponsored twinning’s she was moved to include a British African perspective that would bridge the gap between the Africa we see on our screens and the one known by Africans. Akua Says,

I don’t want school twinning to be a way of feeding British kids with the idea that Africa is a place of only hunger, aids and abject poverty that is in need of aid. I want to contribute to a view of Africa as place we can also learn from; and when the kids see ordinary and extraordinary Africans they can admire and identify with, we may have a chance of a new conversation with Africa based on equality and respect.

Links to post:

www.black-history-month.co.uk

www.aserendipitousproduction.com

Friday, 12 September 2008

The Come Back

It had been some time now since I updated this blog - almost three(3) months ago. I am happy to be back after engaging myself in a clients business (i.e. putting all the accounting stuff in order). Now, that that is behind me, this blog site would be going through something like  a regeneration. This renewal (or rebirth, if you like) would start with the early years of my accounting career, through some technical accounting stuff I had experience over the years, to the traditional things of this blog. This I would be presenting in a series of blog post running to the end of the year.

To start with, my early years of finance and accounting, all began almost twenty-five (25) years ago when I started my secondary school education of five(5) years (but ended up to be six) back in the remote part of Ghana. As a city boy(Accra), attending school in a remote part of the country meant  a residential school (boarding school, it was called). Leaving my parent at a tender age of just fourteen (14) to begin such a path was one of the enduring moment of my life time. Today I can reflect back at those moment and say it was well spent.

As at that time, years in secondary education was called forms depending on which year you were. Like form 1 for year 1 and form 3 for year 3 etc. These forms were split into three sections each of  A, B and C to look like form 1A, 1B, 1C and 3A, 3B, 3C etc. In the first two years that is forms 1 and 2 we were doing something like 18 subject and I was in the B class from the start. On reaching the third year (i.e. form 3), students are split into the Arts, Business, and Science subjects which were labelled A, B and C respectively. So if you are doing the Arts subjects you were given form 3A, 3B for Business and  3C for Science. We were to do at least three section subjects, and one subject from the other two section apart from the section subjects you were in. For example if you were in the B section (i.e. business subjects) you should take at least one Arts subjects and one Science subject in addition to the compulsory Business, English and Mathematics subjects. Overall we were doing something like 12 subject at that level and finally choosing 7, 8 or 9 subjects in year 4 for the final General Certificate of Education (GCE) Ordinary ('O') level exams in year 5. I will admit, now, that the system of career guidance at the time was not the best and an average student like myself had no option but to continue in my B class so I ended doing business subjects. These subjects if I can remember were (8 in total) at the Ordinary level ('O' level):

  • Business Subjects: Commerce, Business Studies, Accounting,
  • Art Subjects: Economics, Bible Studies,
  • Science Subjects: General Science (specialising in Biology),
  • Compulsory Subjects: English and Mathematics

I successfully passed all my subjects after rewriting some of the subjects ending up with 6 years instead 5 to move to the Advanced level ('A' level)

At the 'A' level it was less straight forward than the 'O' level. The subjects at this level were meant to be three but I ended up doing six subjects from two different examining bodies, though some of the subjects were related. I was then doing Business Management, Accounting, and Economics for the GCE; and Cost and Management Accounting, Financial Accounting, and Finance for The Royal Society of Arts (RSA) stage III (stage II was the equivalent of the 'O' level. The RSA was administered by the British so it was a foreign exam in Ghana by then.

After successfully going through all that at the advanced level (not all at one go but had to rewrite some papers to get a good passes). It was the time to decide on my university or tertiary education. Coming from a split family, I couldn't get straight forward answers for a young man of my early twenties. It was one of the decisions that had made me what I am today- go full-time university, work full-time or combination of the two on a part-time basis. Which one is right for me?

The answer lies in the next blog on this series, sending me on the path of my career and what that experience had been.