Reshaping education in underserved communities

October 28, 2018
It’s 7 am, Saturday, September 8, 2018, and Naa Korkoi Larmie ‘16 is shuffling from stand to stand, prepping volunteers, and making sure logistics are set up for United Way’s literacy fair in the Nima township of Accra. For many of the volunteers, September 8, World Literacy Day was a perfect opportunity to give back to an underserved community.

However, for Naa Korkoi, this is a path she’s chosen; a full-time commitment to help provide access to education in some of Ghana’s most underserved communities.

“I’m interested in learning how to improve communities,” she shares. “In the past two years, I’ve gone down the educational rabbit hole in Ghana, and I’ve gained an appreciation of how much a child’s community affects their future. And I want to play a role in ensuring that children have a quality education.”

When Naa Korkoi graduated from Ashesi, even though she knew what the next step was, she was still unsure about how it will turn out. Joining the pioneering Teach for Ghana cohort, she had committed the next two years of her life to teaching students in some of the most remote areas in Ghana’s Volta Region.

“It was eye-opening and challenging,” said Naa Korkoi, who taught English to high school students in Takuve, in Ghana’s Volta Region. “It’s the kind of experience that will change your life forever.”

In those two years, Naa Korkoi experienced first-hand some of the gaps within the educational system in underserved communities. This also helped shape her perspective on being an example within the community.

“While I was teaching I realized that the community plays a huge role in how far the kids go,” she explained. “For most of the children, their families had very little interest in their schooling, and this reflected on their academic performance. I also quickly learned that children mirror everything they see; they picked up everything I did or didn’t do. This helped me realize that a lot feeds into being a leader and it also informed how I began to shape myself into shaping them. Essentially, my becoming a better person helped them see that it’s not impossible to excel academically.”

As a student at Ashesi, pursuing Management Information Systems, Naa Korkoi had been considering different options for her career path. However, when she took Leadership 4, she began to think differently.

“There was a change that happened in me during that course,” she shared. “Seeing the struggles of street hawkers, the destitute nature of street children and people breaking their backs just to barely make ends meet, I was drawn to their plight and sought to have a better sense of their stories; why most of them migrated from the rural areas to unknown territories. So the Teach for Ghana fellowship was a wonderful opportunity to be immersed in this situation.”

Following her experience with Teach for Ghana, Naa Korkori joined the Ghana chapter of United Way, a non-governmental organization devoted to making a real social impact within local communities in education, health and income generation.

Today, working as the Communications and Marketing officer Naa Korkoi is actively seeking ways to help change the narrative about education in underserved communities in Ghana.

“I feel like there’s so much to be done, and we have barely scratched the surface,” she shares. “It’s easy to get lost in wondering where to start solving the problem or being overwhelmed by the scope of work that needs to be done. But it really starts with encouraging people to get out of their comfort zones to impact the lives of other people. While you think you’re trying to change someone’s life, that journey ends up changing you.”

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