HOME COUNTRY: Ghana
EDUCATION: Master’s; MPA- 2014(NYU)
WORK: Founder/Executive Director, Girls Education Initiative of Ghana, GEIG
In 1995, my family travelled from Ghana to New York City. Our parents rationalized the move by assuring us that we'd get better educational opportunities and access which we otherwise would not have by remaining in Ghana. I attest that growing up in New York and benefiting from the resources inherent in the education system has propelled me to be the woman and person I am today.
Dating to 2006, I've periodically travelled to Ghana (annually or year and half at most) to visit family and often times volunteer in schools. Most notably I spent 7 months as a first grade teacher at the World Links Academy in Kumasi in the Ashanti region. In 2008 I volunteered as an English/Literacy teacher at Heritage Academy in Cape Coast. I extensively researched the education reforms in Ghana for an independent study for a public policy course. From these experiences and myriad observations in the country, I witnessed vast disparities in education and access for all students but more for girls. The culmination of these experiences inspired me to seek tangible reforms in education. In 2009, I graduated from Caldwell College with a BA in Political Science and Business Management.
Following undergraduate studies I served as a teaching intern and teaching assistant in New York City schools but returned to Ghana periodically, often volunteering in schools while there. As a graduate student, in 2013, I researched inclusive education in South Africa. The findings from the research showed that persons with disabilities (intellectual, cognitive, physical etc.) are often stigmatized in "developing" countries of which many are in the Global South. Henceforth I've been researching inclusive education in the Ghanaian context. There are many parallels in how disability is viewed in both countries.
The culmination of these experiences birthed the Girls Education Initiative of Ghana, GEIG. GEIG is a registered and incorporated non- governmental organization in Ghana. GEIG’s mission is to provide academic and financial support for girls including applicants with special needs, beginning in junior secondary school so they can access secondary, higher education, and professional opportunities. Girls in developing states are a vulnerable population and often viewed as second-class citizens. Additionally girls with "special needs"/disabilities are third class citizens and an extremely underserved population in Ghana.
Education has been a transformative force in my life and I often say that my education has saved my life. I hope that through the Girls Education Initiative of Ghana we can provide equal access to education for ALL girls in Ghana.
There is a great need to educate girls in Ghana and provide inclusive education for ALL students. To date GEIG has recruited 12 student beneficiaries from the Ashanti and Greater Accra regions. In August 2014, GEIG will hold its first orientation for these students; the orientation will be a 3-week intensive session comprising of academic tutoring to review the previous academic year and preview the upcoming year’s coursework. The last weekend of the orientation (August 22-24) will be dedicated to enrichment and cultural activities.
In the next five years I envision GEIG to be a thriving organization in Ghana, recognized nationally and internationally as a force that's advocating for the rights of ALL girls of school age. We hope to launch volunteer/community service and leadership/mentoring programs for the students. We’ve begun partnering with like- minded institutions in Ghana and hope to continue on this positive track. As indicated we began recruitment in the Ashanti and Greater Accra regions and we are hopeful to be operational in all the ten regions in Ghana by the fifth year. Personally, I hope that in the next five years my family will grow to include the student beneficiaries of GEIG and hopefully begin my own. In addition, I hope to continue to research and advocate for underserved populations in Africa and elsewhere.
Learn more about GEIG at www.girlsedgh.org