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Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Our Most Powerful Weapon... Education

Jacob Achumboro Ayang, 18, Ghana

Today, Ghana is 59 years old. After we gained independence from the British, we embraced the essence and importance of education and why every citizen must be educated. Realising  the immense importance of education, English our official language, is now widely spoken from all around the country making Ghana a national community where the need for education is still emphasized. Each member of this community is to uphold education and share their knowledge to his or her neighbour. International Service has played their role in educating us through a series of orientations and critically explaining every aspect of our voluntary experience before we commenced work on our various projects.

Jacob and Nuhu working hard together in Nayorku
Here in Regional Advisory Information and Network Systems, (RAINS) we have taken education into a new and different dimension. Due to the combination of the UK and Ghanaian volunteers, knowledge on sexual health and of Ghanaian cultures has been merged. We are now able to cultivate a common knowledge on sexual and reproductive health, and more feasible ways to share this knowledge with the local communities. In these local communities, sexually transmitted infections, teenage pregnancy and its attendant siblings rule them, which really affect the educational ladder of students in these communities. They lack knowledge on sexual health and reproduction, have little knowledge on sexual rights, and believe in certain indigenous misconceptions. After several baseline researches conducted in these communities by previous cohorts revealing true evidence of these communities need for help, RAINS aims to help solve these problems practically. 

How to entertain the children of Nayorku? Volleyball!
We do this through education and by combating these problems from their traditional roots since other organisations have made little progress. Knowing that education is not being confined to only syllabus, we had to be culturally aware of these communities. We learnt the true cultural values and norms of these communities which gave us a better standpoint in the delivery of our sensitisations by creating unity between our way of delivering our message and their understanding culturally, so that they can actually learn and practice what we taught. We also injected some dancing activities during our sensitisation to break any monotony during the sensitisation. It became abundantly clear through our sensitisations that the communities had as much to teach us about dancing and their own culture and experiences as we had about sexual health. We understand when we educate a community, we educate ourselves even more. Without a doubt, my fellow volunteers and I feel better equipped to share our knowledge in future thanks to our experience in these sensitisations.

Just as we signed up to educate others on the knowledge we have, we have equally opened our hearts to learn and be educated too by these communities. On our way home from a community sensitisation in Nayorku, I had a discussion with Lewis about the different types of education and their corresponding examples. We focused in particular on non-formal education. I then remembered my host sister, Sandra, teaching me the basic ‘Dagbani’ greetings. She taught me how to say “dasiba” in the morning and an “aninwula” in the evening to anyone I meet on my way to and from work respectively. I quickly realised I was being educated on how to live in Tamale comfortably almost as a natural member. My host home has educated me virtually every day. They taught me how to cook some simple Ghanaian dishes and the exact pinch of salt I need to add to my foods, before when I tried cooking, I only succeeded in preparing a disgusting salty food. With this immense knowledge on basic cooking tips, I will be able to prepare some new delicacies for myself when I get to university. ‘You will only love this place when you open your heart to learn its ways and adapt’ my host sister Teresa told me on my first week. Our host homes have made tremendous efforts in educating us, making us rarely realise we are not at our actual homes. I now understand we have the ability to be educated everywhere, even in a closed surrounding, once we are positive and ready to learn. All these experiences on placement have given me a better grasp of education. I finally had the opportunity to know I wanted to become in the future. A teacher.

Jacob Achumboro Ayang... your future teacher.