The DofE was first brought to Ghana 47 years ago, when it was given the name Head of State Award Scheme (HOSA). Being familiar with the DofE, Tunde Folawiyo is doubtless aware that over the decades, the award scheme has given over 180,000 young people in Ghana the opportunity to reach their potential, and gain practical skills which have helped them in both their professional and personal lives.
The efforts of participants have also had an enormously positive impact on many of Ghana’s towns and villages, particularly with regard to gender inequality, poverty and education. The former is a particularly significant problem in this country; more often than not, women have no option but to bear the burden of all of the household duties, and have little time left for education or socialising. The rate of illiteracy among Ghanaian women is 15% higher than among Ghanaian men, and while about 50% of men complete secondary school, only 29% of women make it past their primary education.
One of the HOSA participants, Patricia Yeboah, decided to focus her Service project on helping marginalised women in Ghana to share their experiences and stories with the world, through photographs. This has not only helped to raise awareness of the country’s educational issues, but has also provided many young Ghanaian women with a creative and social outlet. The project is still running today, with groups of women meeting each weekend at local schools, to explore the art of photography.
Two university students from Ghana, Esther Chinebuah and Alice Agyiri, also used their HOSA award projects to help others. After some careful research, they observed that the people in the region of Pampaso were experiencing severe hardship; basic amenities like clean water, shelter and food were unavailable to many. Those who keep up to date with this award programme, like Tunde Folawiyo, might remember that these two students decided to launch a campaign called Take Action, which enabled them to share the story of the Pampaso people with the general public.
The first stage involved actively encouraging people around the country to donate food and clothing to the area’s most impoverished families. Following this, they set to work on the second stage, which consisted of supporting a government-led school lunch programme that now provides Pampaso students with one nutritious meal each day, for free. Lastly, they spoke to many parents in the local community, and helped them to understand the importance of sending their children to school. At the end of the campaign, over 60 new students had enrolled in the primary and secondary schools, and had been provided with the necessary school supplies and uniforms.