Stephanie Mensah-Doku recalls, “As a young student, I struggled to learn and conform to the traditional way of learning.” So as Stephanie grew, she promised herself that she would ensure upcoming students didn’t go through what she went through.
The opportunity offered itself when Stephanie was posted to a remote part of Accra during her mandatory national service, as an ICT teacher. She found that the school lacked textbooks, students couldn’t read, and others had never seen computers before. Stephanie improvised to make learning very practical for these students. This improved the students’ understanding. “I realised that most of these kids were just like me. They could understand better if they were taught in a practical form.” So that’s what Stephanie did.
Stephanie created a programme called ‘How Smart Are You Today?” With this programme, all subjects were taught practically. She and other teachers broke the topics down to the barest minimum in subjects like ICT, Mathematics, Integrated Science, English, Home Economics, Social Studies and the others. A challenge would occur at the end of the term. Students would demonstrate what they had learned through different contests. No student was left out. The programme was a success! By the end of the challenge, students had become more intelligent, and they understood everything they had been taught. One student who was mostly quiet in class discovered his passion for painting. This made Stephanie so happy!
Since then, Stephanie organises the How Smart Are You Today? Challenge every year through her foundation, Signature Foundation. Teshie Cluster of schools and so many schools have benefited from this. Later on she also organised a Career Day Event as well.
Teachers continuously express their thanks because the How Smart Are You Today? Challenge because they have learnt new ways of teaching their students.
Stephanie explains that volunteering to help children is incredibly fulfilling. “I am an introvert but with volunteering I go all out. I am overjoyed when I let a child see that they are not dumb as people tell them. Instead, they learn differently. And it’s a great joy to watch them learn and understand effectively. The children realise that they are special. Their mindsets change. They embrace their inner self, and this builds their confidence.”
Stephanie believes that volunteers make enormous contributions to the development of Ghana. “Change is gradual” she says “Beside Signature Foundation, other organisations also doing similar work. This makes me happy because we are all contributing to changing the lives of children in Ghana.”
One challenge Stephanie contends with is funding and the many bureaucratic structures that hinder her access to students. However, Stephanie’s determination is unshaken. She is committed to helping these young students. “I believe the change I’m looking for starts with me. If I’m looking to make something happen, I need to take steps toward it.”
Here is Stephanie’s advice to you, “The change you seek starts with you. You need to impact just one person. Parents will tell their kids; kids will tell their friends that is how impact grows.If you want to change things, don’t let anything stop you. Go for it. Eventually you will make the change you wish to see.”
Stephanie Mensah-Doku is the founder of the Signature Foundation and Justbolo hibiscus juice. She is the Lead Graphic Designer at GoGive Time and WeGo Innovate.
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