Honors Profile: Celestina Agyekum
Agyekum draws on personal experience to study education in Ghana
The Knox Student: What are you researching for your Honors project?
Celestina Agyekum: The education system of Ghana — how the economy is affecting its status … they’re lacking trained teachers; they’re lacking in financial resource to provide materials for the children. And the huge thing is a lack of supervision. … If you have the money, you can afford a better education, but if you don’t, then you’re basically screwed. … I think they can do better, and they need to reevaluate their financial status and expenditures.
Another issue that Ghana was facing during the colonial period and post-colonial period was the training of teachers, which wasn’t really happening. They built a lot of schools, and with the amount of schools that they built and the amount of students that were being pushed into schools, there was no time to train the teachers.
We do have a long way to go in terms of training, … which is one of the reasons why I went back to Ghana; I just got back last Thursday [to the U.S.]. I went to the teacher training colleges. … I believe in miracles, and something hopefully will change, not just with more funding, but more diligence and more knowledge.
TKS: What inspired your interest in education and non-governmental organizations?
CA: Elementary education is my major; AnSo [anthropology and sociology] is my minor. I knew I was going to major in elementary education from senior year in high school. … Now I’m not getting my certificate to be a teacher, but I’m still using education, and I’m hoping to use it in NGOs. I’m too much of a butterfly to be in the classroom. I want to jump from place to place, country to country.
I went to Uganda in East Africa in 2009, and I ended up being a youth counselor for a girl who was at risk; she ran away from home. I managed to get through to her. … Most of the time I was listening, because she needed someone to just hear her out. Even though I wasn’t going to solve her problem, that’s what she needed. …
I’m really excited to work with that age group and work with women from other countries who are also from serious situations, from less fortunate families. That’s where my passion is at the moment.
TKS: Could you describe to me what the process of research has been like?
CA: Sometimes I write, and then I get so upset that I have to save my work, close my laptop and just go to bed. I just got so pissed with the information I was getting. I remember sitting down one night and writing 15 pages flat … and that’s ‘cause I just had the information in my head and was so fired up about it, and after that I didn’t want to touch a computer again because I was drained out.
TKS: Honors projects require you to defend your case. Are you nervous about that?
CA: I’m not nervous about that, because it’s my thing, and it’s my country, and it’s my system, and it’s my culture. … If someone was to ask me about the topic of teaching in Ghana, I can answer because I’ve been in that system for 15 years. I’m confident about it as well as being really passionate about it.
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