Light for Children March 2010 Report

24th April 2010

Written by Rhianydd Griffith, Ex-LIFOC volunteer (rhi@hotmail.com) and the LiFoC team

Light for Children March 2010 Report

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99-year-old man graduates from Ghana university in fight against African ‘brain drain!’

A former teacher has just graduated from university in Ghana – aged 99.  World War Two veteran Akasease Kofi Boakye Yiadom initially enrolled at Presbyterian University College’s business school aged 96.  Now he has finished his studies, Boakye Yiadom is urging his classmates to resist the lure of higher salaries overseas and stay in Ghana. Most say they have no plans to leave. Bright Korang, another fourth-year student at Presbyterian University College, says. “Throughout my education, taxpayers’ money has been used to support me. Therefore after school I should also help the taxpayer. I can see there are so many opportunities here in Ghana.”

‘Brain Drain’

However, some of Boakye Yiadom’s classmates are looking outside the country. Joshua Odame will study for his master’s degree in the UK. “The developed countries have the technical know how, so we go and learn” he says.

Leaving the country can yield a windfall for some Ghanaians. A spokesman for the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said a 20-fold increase in salaries is possible if graduates move overseas. One field that has seen much of its talent exit the country is healthcare. Dr. Mariama Awumbila, head of the center for migration studies at the University of Ghana, said the migration of skilled health workers has had a serious impact on the country.  “In the early 2000s there were quite a number of districts that didn’t have a doctor, and some wards didn’t even have a nurse,” she says. “In the late 1990s and early 2000s our infant mortality rate increased, and that is associated with the peak of the migration of health professionals.”

The so called “brain drain” has affected many sectors, including financial services, at all levels. Benjamin Debrah is managing director of Barclays Bank, Ghana. He returned to his home country after working abroad. But moving back to Ghana meant making sacrifices. “You take a huge pay cut, because wages are lower here,” he states matter of factly. “You also sacrifice on the levels of certainty. If you are a professional you want to know that if you are right, the outcome will be a particular thing. It’s not quite the same in these parts. There is ambiguity.”

New graduates share those concerns. Among them is Douglas Darkwah, a senior at the University of Ghana. “We can’t stay in the country when financial security is not assured,” he explained. “I want to make money, to help the poor. But [in Ghana] there’s no work. There’s massive unemployment, so after education there’s nothing to do.”

Yiadom think graduates should stay in the country. Proud of his hard work and survival through hardship, Boakye  says, “If it is a scant pay you have to accept it, because it is the government’s money that has been used to educate you,” he said. “So if you have finished school and passed your degree, you have to stay in Ghana and serve Ghana.”

Brain Circulation?

There may be a middle ground: Graduates who migrate, and then return to Ghana. According to the IOM, more than a million Ghanaians migrated from 2000 to 2007, but more than 85 percent return either temporarily or permanently. Awumbila calls the phenomenon “brain circulation.” “They’re contributing and then going back. And they also carry a lot of knowledge back there, so we’re circulating the brain,” she said.

Migrants are also circulating cash. According to the IOM, the Bank of Ghana estimates that migrant Ghanaians sent $ 1.9 billion back to Ghana in 2008. That’s one seventh of Ghana’s official exchange rate GDP.

In Boakye Yiadom’s roomhowever, his World War Two pictures are proudly displayed, and are symbolic of his beliefs: don’t leave; fight, and serve the country. And if you do, he says, “You might live to be a hundred”!

Light for Children Activities

Sexual Assault Programme

On 2nd March rehearsals took place at the Light for Children office for the mega launching of the Preventive Child Sexual Assault Programme in the local community!

On 25th March the official launch took place and was the highlight of the month for Light for Children,.

The launch brought together many areas of the local community, including the police, healthcare and social services, education professionals, students and the general public. A cultural youth dance group also performed as part of the meeting!

The number of influential people attending the launch, demonstrates how important the issue is in the local area and is indicative of the level of support among interest group leaders.

Monthly Socialisation Meeting

On 20th March the monthly socialization also took place at the usual meeting grounds of the Kumasi National Cultural Centre.

International volunteers Anna, Misaki and Claudia were in attendance and assisted the LIFOC team by taking the weights and measurements of the children, organising games and taking pictures (a lot of them!) while the LIFOC coordinators distributed supplies and advice to the caregivers.

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One Response to “Light for Children March 2010 Report”

  1. Hendrik Wuebben Says:

    respect, i think it is very good, very good. you are giving alot of information and show picturs. for peoplewho has not been in Ghana can still imagine how it is there. good job.

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