A Global Partnership: NYU’s GIFTED Program Helps Girls in Rural Ghana Stay in School

Ghanaian educators reported that girls are staying in school as a result of extra curricular programs they have created under the guidance of NYU’s Ghanian Institute for the Future of Teaching and Education Women’s Fellowship Program (GIFTED). Schools are enrolling more girls and keeping them engaged through special offerings that are designed to to harness their creativity and help them acquire skills in math, business, design, writing, and marketing.

At a symposium in Kimmel Hall on June 6th, the first cohort of GIFTED fellows, a group of twelve women who received professional development from NYU to implement projects, presented their findings.

In Ghanian schools, girls were offered the chance to join an after school club in dance, graphic design and batik, beading and jewelry design, math skills, or creative writing.  Each club had a motto which imparted a feeling of community among its members.

GIFTED fellows reported that the Amazing Girls’ Club for math helped students “gain confidence and interest in solving mathematical problems and understand that with determination and support they can do better in their academic work.”  The club was created to help junior high school girls prepare for high school entrance exams.

The Girls of Difference Club used cultural dance to stimulate enrollment for girls who typically stayed home to care for younger siblings. Enrollment in the school increased from 54 to 123 girls during the project period and initial research shows a significant improvement in the girls’ academic self-perception and self-efficacy as a result of club participation.

Girls gained entrepreneurial experience in the Art for Life Club, where they learned how to produce beads, design jewelry, and market and sell their creations. The income generated for their work has been used to cover the cost of school supplies and their basic hygiene needs.

The symposium ended with a reception and display of jewelry and batik shirts made by the girls in Ghana.  The GIFTED fellows spent their week in New York attending workshops, meeting with faculty and UN representatives, visiting the public schools, and touring the city.

GIFTED is directed by Kristie Patten Koenig, chair and associate professor in Steinhardt’s Department of Occupational Therapy, and Rose Vukovic,  an associate professor of special education in the Department of Teaching and Learning.  The program is funded by Banco Santander and is a collaboration between NYU, the Ghanaian Ministry of Education, the University of Education at Winneba, and Fundación Mujeres por África.

(Photos:  Ghanian leaders shared findings at a special symposium; batik fabric and thank you cards from Ghanian girls; a presentation.  Credit:  Debra Weinstein)