On Friday, February 16, 2018, the International Baccalaureate (IB), a leader in international education, will host its inaugural African Education Festival in Accra, at the Labadi Beach Hotel, Ghana from 8:00am to 6:00pm.
The event will be held under the theme of Leading and Learning in the 21st Century.
Partnering the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to host the event, delegates and thought leaders in education will discuss current education trends, as well as explore innovation in education practice, capturing key developments in both education leadership and learning.
Ghana’s international IB school community shall be strongly represented at the conference, with staff, students and alumni of Al Rayan International School, Association International School, Lincoln Community School, Morgan International School, SOS-Hermann Gmeiner International School and Tema International School (TIS) participating in panel discussions, IB memoir sharing and performances.
Apiorkor Seyiram Ashong-Abbey, who works with Accra-based Citi FM/Citi TV as a Production Executive and Broadcast Presenter, is an IB graduate and an alumna and first Head Girl of the Tema International School in Ghana.
Mrs. Ashong-Abbey was full of nothing but praise for the IB Diploma programme.
“Having attended a high school that was running the Cambridge IGCSE and the IB Diploma programmes, initially, for me it was a natural next step to pursue the IB Diploma.
At the time, there had been much talk about how advanced a course, the programme was, how intense and rigourous it could get, how life-transforming it could potentially be and indeed, the word on the street was that holders of the IB Diploma were equipped to be life-long learners and first class global citizens.
At 17, I was excited about education and the acquisition of knowledge, in general, therefore the idea of enrolling in the IB Diploma programme had my heart racing, for I longed to be a life-long learner and a first class global citizen, myself. Yet, despite my eagerness to pursue the IB Diploma, again at 17, I did not fully comprehend what the IB Diploma could do for me.
Fast forward, when I found myself at Lafayette College, in the USA, my IB Diploma enabled me to take second and third year courses, because of the credits that it had allowed me to accrue.
This meant that I was able to explore a variety of knowledge areas and at a much quicker pace than my peers. It also meant that I discovered early on, what my passions were and I was able to develop and pursue me.
However, the IB Diploma gave me more than just advanced credit.
From TOK to CAS to the very structure of the IB Diploma, my time in IB equipped me with the ability to think critically, to analyse situations, not to judge a book by its cover, To have an inquiring mind; to be in tune with my society and my surroundings, to be mindful of culture and the effect that it has of the psychology of a society and to always remember that by virtue of my privileges, I have a responsibility to give back to and to shape my society.
These nuggets of wisdom gave me the humility to learn from everyone, everything and every situation that I would encounter, after I had acquired my IB Diploma.
Pursuing the IB Diploma taught me that no single person has monopoly over knowledge, hence it is in my own interest to keep an open mind and learn from the newborn baby, but also from the aged woman on her death bed, as well as from the billionaire, but also from the street hawkers of Accra, my home.
The IB Diploma also taught me that since no single person has monopoly over knowledge, I would be doing myself a great disservice, if I did not do what I can to empower those who are less fortunate than I am, so that they can also have voices to share their bits of the knowledge pie. And I strongly believe that it is these lessons that the IB Diploma taught me, which have, in turn shaped my educational path and which have made me a life-long learner and world-class global citizen, in my own right.”
Apiorkor, in all of her admirable eloquence, also has a lot to say about the one IB teacher, who inspired her the most and who, she believes, has had the greatest impact on whom she is today.
“With no disrespect or discredit to any of my teachers, I would have to say that Mr. Isaac Darko was the one who inspired me the most, out of all my IB teachers.
Mr. Darko taught me English A1 (Higher Level). I was an all-round student, who had many interests and varied talents, so it was often difficult for people (including myself) to tell what my destiny was or most probably should be.
However, Mr. Darko could read and analyse me, as he would an English A1 text.
Long before he became my teacher, I had excelled at English Language and Literature, but it was Mr. Darko who identified my rare ability to deconstruct pretty much any text. He was so animated in class and you could not help but be captivated by his beautiful mind; I wanted to have command over the English language like he did, I wanted to be able to be so in tune with my emotions that I could be empathetic towards fictional characters and persona. I wanted to be able to pen a heavily technical poem in ten minutes tops. I wanted to be able to apply the lessons of Literature in all aspects of my life and learning and it was Mr. Isaac Darko who inspired me to want to be and eventually to become and to be all of these things.
He became my friend and big brother and he groomed me. We were both lovers of music and God and together with other students, we started a Christian gospel band in school, which still thrives today.
You see, Mr Darko was not just a teacher; he was a mentor and my personal angel. And how could such a man not be memorable?”
And it is no wonder that with such impact on the 17-year-old Apiorkor, she is currently an award-winning poet. Her work centres on gender issues, psychology and the nuances of Ghanaian culture. The poetess’s poetry is noted for its rare prosaic nature, the techniques of repetition and free verse, as well as the stark imagery, which she employs. She often performs her poetry, within the West African sub-region.
Again, Apiorkor creates, edits and copywrites anything from business proposals to jingles and advertising material, to speeches to books.
Much of her work at Citi FM/Citi TV involves writing and editing, which she does with such finesse that her colleagues, as well as the station’s listeners, refer to her as the “Brofo Hemaa,” which is Twi for “Queen of the English Language”.
And this queen has a few words of wisdom for current IB students, but there is no doubt that we can all learn a thing or two from her.
“Today, I am a media practitioner in Ghana. I work for one of Ghana’s leading media houses, as a production executive and broadcast presenter.
I am also an award-winning poet and versatile creative, a writer, an editor, a copywriter, a teacher, consultant, youth mentor and a gender/culture activist. Plus, I am a wife, a mother, a dreamer and a traveller.
Wearing so many hats makes my head heavy, of course, but I manage to do it because the IB Diploma and all of its intensity, rigour and madness have enabled me to do so.
To get here, a solid and holistic education has been key, however, diligence, being meticulous, perseverance, open-mindedness, the willingness to learn and a teachable spirit were necessary. Respect for authority and learning to be unique, while being sensitive to culture was also necessary.
Above all, knowing who I am and being proud of and confident in whom that person is cannot be underestimated.
I would like to encourage current IB Diploma students to be appreciative of the opportunity that they have to be a part of this programme. It is difficult to see how something might influence your future, positively, when you have no idea what the future looks like, what it holds.
Nonetheless, trust the process, trust your teachers and take responsibility for your own learning.
Use the opportunity to learn any and everything that you can. Read widely. Ask questions. Question answers and theories. Make good friends. Learn from your friends. Sit in classes that you are not even taking and learn something new. Dance. Sing. Act. Play an instrument. Advocate for the better. Be a student leader. Befriend the security men, janitors, kitchen staff and drivers. Converse with the principal and administrative staff. Travel. Eat something new. Be the living definition of what the IB Diploma represents.
In short, live thoroughly, learn thoroughly and ensure that you grow to become a life-long learner and a world-class global citizen.”
Apiorkor will be covering IB’s February 16 event, in Accra, Ghana.
Friday’s African Education Festival in Accra, at the Labadi Beach Hotel, comprises panel discussions on topics such as promoting intercultural awareness. Festival attendees will have the opportunity to engage in a number of interactive workshops, which are to cover topics such as best practice in leading and learning in an African context and creating professional learning communities.
Keynote speakers include Dr. Patrick Awuah, President of Ashesi University, who, in recognition of his service to Ghana, was awarded Membership of the Order of the Volta by His Excellency, President J.A. Kufuor, in July 2007, along with receiving a WISE (World Innovation Summit for Education) award in 2017. Innovation Summit for Education) award in 2017.
Participants represent government and private schools from Ghana, Nigeria, Sudan, Gabon, Togo, Cameroon, Ivory Coast Tanzania, Kenya, Togo and Liberia.