Teacher standing with Ghana students
Photo Courtesy of Natalia Kostiw

Empowering Girls Through Education: The Story of One Small School in Ghana

Natalia Kostiw

The school encourages students to participate in programs that increase self-sufficiency. Two students – Janet and Mawuenyo – recently graduated from a sewing apprenticeship class. The girls are working on setting up a business in the village. With the skills they have gained, these young women will be able to provide for themselves and their families. Both girls are saving their earnings and hope to open a small shop this year. Other girls are in training programs to do batik, tie dye, bead work and soap making. Selling soap has taken off in the village. The girls have hired other women to sell bottles of their soap as well. Linda says, “It has had a ripple effect – women relying on themselves and working to support one another.” Young women at DSDO are strongly encouraged to take on leadership roles and become role models for the other students. Linda hopes the girls will continue to use their leadership skills to take on roles of responsibility within the village when they become adults.

Linda anticipates more girls will complete upper elementary grades and hopefully complete high school. With classrooms, separate toilets for girls and boys, dedicated teachers and resources, supported by Canadian volunteer teachers, children are thriving in Dekpor Basic School and in the community. Working collaboratively to assess community needs and taking action around both education and social issues has empowered everyone and girls in particular. As educators, we are fortunate we can take small steps to get girls into school and learning. Imagine the global future if we, as teachers, could do even more to empower girls and women through quality education.

“When you educate a girl, everything changes. It is not an option; it is a necessity. ”
– Julia Moulden

It is not difficult to predict what the future holds for girls who never attend school. They will join the ranks of the 77 million young women between the ages of 15 and 24 who are unable to read or write a single sentence. It is critical to ensure that all girls get a basic education. So too is increasing the numbers of female teachers, school heads and officials. It puts women in leadership positions, provides role models for girls and helps to create a more equitable society.

Kofi Annan said it perfectly: “To educate girls is to reduce poverty and the single highest returning social investment in the world.” As a study by the International Centre for Research on Women confirms, “Women are more likely to control their destinies and effect change in their own communities when they have higher levels of education.” Empowerment begins with education and you, as an educator, have the skills, the knowledge, to make a difference in a girl’s life.

Dekpor School Development Organisation is a registered Canadian charity and recognized NGO in Ghana (since 2011). Check out volunteer and other opportunities at dekporschool.org.

Natalia Kostiw is a member of the Elementary Teachers of Toronto.


ETFO members sitting around table watching speakers

 In January and February ETFO President David Clegg met with locals to provide information on bargaining.

three women standing together having discussion

Like many other ETFO leaders, Julie Stanley brings years of experience to her position as chief negotiator for the Bluewater Teacher Local. Stanley is typical of a unique group of experienced women negotiators leading collective bargaining teams across the province.