Guest blog post by David Romain who ran the #backtoschool campaign in Ghana for Future First Global.
My time working in Ghana coincided with Future First Global’s #backtoschool week, the launch of a 5 year plan to turn schools into communities on a Global Scale. As soon as Future First’s founders discovered of my whereabouts I was signed up as their Ghana partner.
My mission was to establish what local people would be prepared to do to say thank you to their old school and support a local alumni event. What I discovered was a series of local schools with well-established alumni networks forming active communities with their old schools. Pupils are proud to wear their school uniforms and alumni want the best for their old school’s future. While these networks are sometimes less established in lower income communities, alumni still wanted to give back.
After many interviews with local Ghanaians I was invited to attend the 25th anniversary of Oguaa Secondary Technical (Ostech) (Cape Coast, Ghana). Prize giving was interspersed with a marching band, a display by the school cadets and a demonstration of Jujitsu. Around 85 alumni turned out to support their old school and were given front row seats.
They told me that the school buildings around us had all been built since they left school but the school still lacked many basic facilities. After the celebrations I was invited to talk to the alumni and tell them about Future First Global’s campaign. I said that I had been overwhelmed by the strength of their alumni network and that each of them is a relatable role model for current Ostech students. Many wanted to help encourage other people give back to their old schools around the region.
The next day I was joined by current and former Ostech students as we took to the streets asking people for their #backtoschool pledge. We asked people what advice they would give to their 16 year-old self, showing that we all have something to give regardless of whether you are Kofi Annan or a local fisherman. During our time on the street we met a fireman and a bank manager who had attended Ostech but had yet to return. The boys expressed how much they would like to hear from them and they both pledged immediately to give career talks.
In total we obtained over 100 sign-ups from people pledging to give their time to do something positive for their old school either by hosting current students at their workplace, giving a career talk or simply asking the school how they could help out. We established that Ghana certainly has the appetite for turning schools into communities and wants networks of relatable role models to inspire and support Ghanaian teenagers.