Hello, and thank you for your interest in Educational Communities Worldwide (also known as EduCom).
It is an honor and a pleasure to serve as the new President of the Board of Directors for EduCom. We know that 2020 was a challenging year for us all. Some in our community have struggled with grief at the health challenges and losses of CoVid19, others with grief and anger at the injustice of systemic racism, violence against women and girls, and systemic discrimination worldwide. EduCom is dedicated to being a force for good in the face of global crisis by providing opportunities for smart, hardworking, committed yet economically disadvantaged students to create better futures for themselves and their communities.
The pandemic of 2020 and ongoing fallout negatively impacted the organization, yet we celebrate some important wins from 2020. We congratulate Emmanuel Nyame, one of the co-founders of Educational Communities Worldwide, and Dr. Bonnie Green, our first Board President, on their retirement from the Board to address personal and professional concerns, with deep gratitude for their instrumental roles in advancing the organization. Our sincere thanks also to Joshua Mote, Sayida Self, Dr. Eugene Adams, and to current board member Vivian Bruno for your service on the founding Board of Directors for EduCom (from 2018 to 2020), and to Joseph Storer for your service on the board in 2020.
While we experienced program cancellations with the complete shutdown of schools in Ghana due to quarantines, we were able to transition leadership to a new CEO, EduCom’s Co-founder Lawrence
Fianko. With support from our Board of Directors, Lawrence accomplished foundational work for EduCom in 2020, such as: documenting the organization’s history and records; implementing the use of new financial accounting and donor management software; protecting the organization’s assets, volunteers and donors by obtaining liability insurance for the organization, board liability and cyber liability insurance; starting work on a new website which went live in 2021; recruiting invaluable new volunteers; and engaging new Board members in leadership roles and as advocates for the organization. In 2020 we were honored to welcome Joseph Storer, Dr. Anne Grey, Edward Asare, Elorm Tetteh, Godswill Mhlanga, Juan Manuel Escalante, Pradeep Nair, Dr. Robert Gillio, and Tatyana Mikayilova to the Board of Directors.
Also in 2020 the organization accomplished significant milestones including:
- Stewarding a partnership with Dare to Be Global, which raised funds in 2020 for academic support for a school in Ghana
- Forming a partnership with Creative Discovery Group to provide online coaching to support students impacted by the pandemic in Ghana, the United States and Canada
- Building a partnership with The Force for Health, which in 2021 committed to sponsor an online learning community for EduCom as part of our program offerings in Ghana
- Winning support from community partners including Amazon and Microsoft
- Engaging volunteers in multiple new committees including Programs Committee, Fund Development Committee, Grant Writing Committee, Social Media and more
- Sending books to learners of all ages in Ghana and perhaps most importantly
- The Program Committee worked to develop plans for a new program offering tertiary level scholarships and mentorship for Ghanaian students, which launches as a pilot program in 2021.
We learned that college level education has been particularly challenging for students since the pandemic hit, because of the difficulties of moving to online learning in Ghana. A September 2020 study at the University of Cape Coast found university level students responded positively to online learning. However, students experience internet connectivity problems, financial difficulty due to the high cost of internet service, challenges with devices, and disruption to learning as a result of the need to assist in household work.
The study cited one student, Melody, who stated:
“It is very difficult, because as a lady, my mother expects that I help her with the household work and so if she sees me…using my phone for a long time then she starts complaining that I have kept long on the phone. For instance, there was a time I had an assignment to complete and submit but my mother was calling continuously to come and help her. I tried explaining to her, but she doesn’t really understand why I was on the phone for such a long time. So, it is somehow difficult, being at home, helping at work, doing house chores and studying online.”Henaku, Eugene. (2020). COVID-19: Online Learning Experience of College Students: The Case of Ghana. 54-62.
Due to the number of challenges associated with online learning, many students have experienced an inability to engage in online learning, creating a disruption in their education which has yet to be remedied. Students are starting to be able to return to in person learning. EduCom’s new scholarship program will help support students at the university level whether their classes are in person or online.
While Educational Communities Worldwide is still in its early years, we have a big vision and are a community of big hearted contributors. In 2021, we are working on a full organizational strategic plan and would value stakeholder input. Our pilot scholarship program is the first phase of a full scholarship program that will eventually reach all 16 regions of Ghana. And it’s scalable, so with funding we can advance the work to reach other countries in Africa and around the world. With strategic planning and the resources to carry out our plans, and the help of people like you, we will truly make a world of difference.
I encourage you to review our blog and check out photos and stories of students whose lives are being changes as a result of Educational Communities Worldwide. And then, I invite you to connect and explore how you might engage in empowering people to accomplish full employment and economic stability, helping us provide educational opportunities including but not limited to full-ride scholarships, internships, free school supplies, and online skills development courses to underprivileged students in Africa and around the world. Because investing in education changes the future for people. And because together we can accomplish so much more.
With optimism and hope,
Christine Rose, ACC
President, Educational Communities Worldwide