Kofi Annan, former Secretary-general of the UN, described girls’ education as the “single highest returning social investment in the world today”. This is still true today and there is a great need for girls in Ghana to break out of the spiral of poverty and underachievement.
As in most of Africa, it is the women of Ghana – as the mothers of the future – who hold the key to progress and change. But many of its young girls are deprived of education in order to help their parents, siblings and members of their extended family survive. They often do the physically demanding work like walking for miles for water, planting and tending the crops and looking after animals. Most will marry young and have children when barely adults themselves. At best they will have a limited education and their daughters will carry on this depressing cycle, often made worse by poor health, sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV/AIDS and early pregnancy. And so the cycle continues.
Girls in rural areas of Ghana are particularly disadvantaged when it comes to education. They are disadvantaged through their location and gender imbalance. Poverty means that girls are misused more often than boys – they often carry out cleaning and other household chores for teachers and are taken out of school when the family runs out of money or needs an extra pair of hands. There are few role models and most mothers have gone through the same experiences, so they accept that this is the fate of their daughters.
Breaking the cycle of poverty
Although primary education in Ghana is free to all, some teachers still favour boys over girls. However, giving girls access to secondary education and beyond, these girls are more likely to have a career, marry later with fewer children and so escape the poverty cycle.
‘College for Ama’ (CofA) attempts to break this cycle. It aims to change the attitudes of intelligent and gifted young girls so they understand the advantages of a better education; getting married later; acquiring more wealth and prosperity, and thus having fewer children who they can look after better including supporting them through secondary and higher education.
Annual Summer Training Camps since 2006
Every year, CofA runs a Summer Camp for girls from deprived, rural areas of Ghana. They receive extra tuition in academic subjects, including Mathematics, General Science, English and ICT. Equal importance is given to creativity and innovation: two essential life skills, both for personal and professional development.
The 2016 CofA Summer Training Camp saw the largest number of girls since the first Summer Camp in 2006. Download the report here.
College for Ama (or CofA, as we call it) started in 2006 helping girls to continue their education at secondary level. This was done through its annual summer camps, a mentoring program and financial assistance.
COVID-19 meant that we had to stop our program. CofA is using this pause to reflect on past achievements and ways to improve its program when it can safely relaunch its activities.
Here is what we achieved at our 10th aniversary in 2016.