Expo to host its very first leadership conference!
We began by doing some research into the skills that youth in Ghana will need, both from the perspective of employers and from a development standpoint. We looked at international studies comparing how Ghanaian leaders rank in different skills categories, and we studied development literature concerning the kind of leadership that is needed to move West Africa forward. We combined this research with our experiences in the classrooms and the ideas that Exponential Education is founded on; namely, that Ghanaian education focuses too much on rote memorization, and therefore Ghanaian youth do not receive enough formal experience with abstract and creative thought or problem-solving.
From these ideas, we chose the skills that we wanted to target and created the mission statement for our conference: To impart transformational leadership skills to approximately 30 SHS students from the Ashanti region through a one-day conference targeting communications, professional development, and critical and creative thinking for problem solving.
Our conference will be focused on developing the kind of leadership skills that enable leaders to not only continue to lead existing programs and organizations, but to change them from within to maximize impact and efficiency. This is exactly the kind of leadership that the next generation of Ghanaians will need to be true leaders in their communities, and we believe that it’s imperative that these promising students receive all of the guidance that we can give them to that end.
In the process of researching the conference, we learned that initiatives such as this are important for another reason: in West Africa, the concept of “leadership” is very closely tied to a person’s social standing, so the young and those who are not in positions of power do not view themselves as potential leaders. Additionally, because there are so many NGO’s operating in Ghana, many people feel that the only avenues to improve their situations are either help from a local chief or help from an NGO.
While we have no desire to upend the existing social system of Ghana, we do think that it is important that our students see that they themselves are capable of enacting positive change from the position that they’re already in. By helping them to develop the skills that they already have and teaching them the basics of leadership and teamwork, we hope to empower them to do just that.
This will be our first conference of this kind, but we’re hoping that with its success we can expand it to include more sessions, more skills, and most importantly, more students who will become the future leaders of Ghana. Be sure to check our blog next month for highlights from our first ever leadership conference!
Rachel Widany is our Senior Programs Manager and leads the Girls Leadership Program.