According to Nelson Mandela “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world”. Our belief and effort is based on this statement, since we develop a project based on education with the aim to bring a change into local communities. The project focuses on EU fundamental values of equality, tolerance and non-discrimination while the focal point is the field of education and lies on Article 26 of Human Rights. According to the article “Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory. Technical and professional education shall be made generally available and higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit”. Moreover, the project is supporting the sustainable development goals set by the United Nations. More specifically, the project is focusing on the goal no 4: Ensure inclusive and quality education for all and promote lifelong learning (More information can be found here).
WE AfriHug is a voluntary project that is taking place in 6 African countries (Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Togo, Ghana, and Western Sahara) from January 1st until July 31st 2018. Five passionate volunteers from Greece, Italy and Cyprus join forces and travel to the Eastern and Western part of Africa. The aim of the project is to empower Youth in African local communities through education, to promote European and international understanding through the Erasmus+ programme and to foster the development of a shared sense of European identity. In the framework of the project, the volunteers achieve 2 sports milestones aiming at raising awareness about WE AfriHug and motivating people to overcome their limits. Lastly, data are being collected during the trip in order to conduct Research for a Master Thesis, entitled as “Academic mobility: Traveling abroad for educational purposes. Case study: WE AfriHug Project in Ghana”.
- Youth Empowerment through non-formal education for the development of “Skills needed for the 21st century”.
- Erasmus+ Programme promotion.
- Sports milestones.
- Academic research and Master thesis: “Academic mobility: Traveling abroad for educational purposes. Case study: WE AfriHug Project in Ghana”.
During the Training Seminars the focus is the Empowerment of the Youth through facilitation of the students to develop the “Skills needed for the 21st century”* and more specifically “Learning & Innovation Skills” & “Life and Career skills”. All the activities are based on non-formal education, going beyond the traditional way of education in the classroom. Students have the chance to express themselves, discover who they are, reflect on their strengths and weaknesses and develop skills. Moreover, the involvement of local NGOs in each country aims at creating space for knowledge transfer between the trainers of WE AfriHug and the partner members, so as for the locals to continue implementing similar workshops in the future and sustain the results of the project acting as multipliers.
*According to UNESCO Educationn Strategy (2014-2021) “There is an increasing recognition that lifelong learning is the philosophy, conceptual framework and organizing principle for in the 21st century”. UNESCO is giving priority to three strategic thematic areas: literacy, skills development for work and higher education. 3-day workshops for high-schools students will be implemented focused on “the skills needed for the 21st century” and more specifically aiming at the category “Learning adn Innovation skills” & “Lifelong Career Skills” (Partnership for 21st century skills). Critical Thinking & Problem Solving, Creativity, Communication & Collaboration and Social & Cross-cultural Skills will be developed during the workshops.
During the Training Seminars the focus is the knowledge transfer for the opportunities that the Erasmus+ programme can offer for African Universities. Board members, Academic Staff and Students get to know about Erasmus+, the Erasmus Mundus Joint Master Degrees, and information for partnerships between European and African HEIs, tips and guidance on how to submit good proposals and make applications. Moreover, connections between European and African Universities are facilitated with an aim to create new networks and collaborations. The main of these training seminars is to explain to African HEIs the benefits of participating in this programme of European Union.
Sports have been always a means to bring people together, motivate and unify them for a good cause. The project aims at the Empowerment of the Youth through education but at the same time it aims at the motivation and inspiration of its followers, in order to believe in them and prove that impossible is nothing by overcoming their limits. For this reason, the volunteers challenge themselves in two extreme sports milestones, combining hiking and running aiming also at raising the awareness about the project. Firstly, in early January a climb to the top of Africa in 5.895 m at mountain Kilimanjaro. Through Machame route and after a 6-day hike they reach the top. Then, in late February, the volunteers will participate in the Sahara Marathon, an international sports event which aims at supporting the Saharawi refugees by showing solidarity and providing humanitarian help. It takes place in the Sahrawi refugee camps of Western Sahara close to Tindouf in Algeria.
The aim of the research is to examine the study abroad experience impact on Ghanaian students and to examine the way that the form of “travel and learning” contributes to one’s personal development and also to community’s development. The Thesis is entitled as “Academic mobility: Traveling abroad for educational purposes, Case study: WE AfriHug Project in Ghana” and the research question to be answered is the following: To what extend do academic mobility experiences contribute to personal transformation and development? Moreover, the main objectives of this research are the following: To understand the impact of the study abroad experience in terms of personal transformation and new competencies gained and to investigate the impact of the study abroad experience in terms of community impact and development through the individual’s personal transformation.
WE AfriHug project is used in this Research as a case study and as data-gathering mechanism. The data will be collected during the time of the project while in Ghana. Ghana was the target country for this research and thus Ghanaians who have studied abroad for short-term or long-term. Initially the researcher collected a database of Ghanaian students from the University of Cape Coast (UCC) who have spent an exchange semester abroad in the framework their bachelor degree. Also, the researcher contacted the Erasmus Mundus Association (EMA) in Ghana and has been able to come in touch with eight Ghanaian alumni of this programme. Since the focus of the research has to do with the impact of those students, it made sense to seek for people who have done their studies in the past and not recently. The impact needs years to be deeply understood and seen, thus the researcher preferred to get in touch with UCC students from the generations of 2011 until 2016.
The researcher applied a thematic content analysis (TCA) to better analyse and code the data of this study. In order to facilitate the process of data coding and analysis, the researcher used the computer software NVivo 11.
ENGAGEMENT FOR A FUTURE VISION
During our stay in Ghana, we participate in international training projects with African Youth, Experts, Youth workers, NGOs, Trainers and Policymakers aiming at contributing to Africa’s educational future. We participated in the Erasmus+, Key Action 2: Capacity Building in the field of youth project”STEP Forward” and “The Grapes of Wrath” and we got engaged in the 2nd Afrika Youth Movement Youth Empowerment Retreat & Forum in Accra, Ghana. Afrika Youth Movement (AYM) is a pan-African, action-oriented, youth-led movement that strives for the participation, development and leadership of African youth to transform Africa and achieve their rights to peace, equality and social justice. Lastly we got selected for the Changemakers’ Room Africa 2018 Africa Edition in Lagos, Nigeria from July 15th until 22nd, 2018 being among among the 50 most promising grassroots’ practitioners, socially active youth workers and community leaders from across Africa who will gather together to identify local and national problems, ideate solutions, build long-lasting partnerships and develop international mobility projects creating interventions in response to those issues.