Mentors Matter - Camfed Supports Ghana's Guidance & Counselling Strategy
Guidance and counselling, and the crucial role of Teacher Mentors in supporting the mental wellbeing of marginalized students, were at the heart of the Annual Learning Summit held by Camfed Ghana and the Mastercard Foundation on the 6th of June at the University of Ghana, Legon, with Mr. Ernest Wesley-Otoo representing the Ministry of Education.
Ghana has just launched its new five-year guidance and counselling strategy, with three guiding documents developed with support from Camfed and the Mastercard Foundation, leaning on research to inform strategy implementation.
One of the hallmarks of Camfed’s multidimensional educational support programme for marginalized girls and young women is the provision of psychosocial support both at school and beyond the school gate. Camfed recognizes the many additional burdens carried by girls from impoverished backgrounds.
Often the primary carers for siblings or sick relatives, girls also provide unpaid domestic and agricultural labour, and are vulnerable to exploitation and abuse because of their lack of financial resources. In addition to addressing financial gaps, Camfed trains at least two teachers at each partner school to offer guidance and counselling support, assisted by peer mentors from its CAMA alumnae network.
These mentors, in addition to being vital role models, work to close the distance between the families of vulnerable girls (many of whom are the first to go to secondary school or higher education) and the school system, which can be hard to navigate for uneducated guardians, whose primary concern may be the next family meal, or how to survive after a poor harvest.
Camfed Ghana not only works with local communities, schools and education authorities to implement programs that support girls’ mental wellbeing at school, but also commissions research to identify gaps in national policy, and shares learnings and best practice for wider dissemination.
On June 5th, 2018, at a seminar supported by the Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program in Accra, Camfed Ghana’s National Director John Asibi Ali presented research commissioned by Camfed and funded by the Foundation in order to help shape policy and further research into the support systems available to vulnerable students.
According to researchers, the lack of support for Guidance and Counselling Units at under resourced schools seriously hampers girls’ progress. They urged the government to draw on the strengths of Camfed’s Teacher Mentoring program, including its monitoring of outcomes.
Mentoring in school increases students’ interest in education, academic performance, and personal outcomes. Continued support in the transition period after school is also key to guiding graduates, especially young women, into successful entrepreneurship, employment or further education.
Research shows that Camfed Teacher Mentors are improving learning outcomes and retention of students, Camfed’s Dolores Dickson, Camfed’s Executive Director – Canada and Global Programs, who joined the research seminar and the annual Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program Learning Summit on the following day.
At the summit, audience members heard from Teacher Mentor Estella Attom, as well as from the leaders in Camfed’s CAMA alumnae network, sharing their own experiences of the importance of guidance and counselling to their life and career choices.
Among them were Mastercard Foundation Scholar and medical student at the University for Development Studies Ruhia Mustapha, and nurse and community leader Fatima Yakubu, a former Scholar, who now mentors the next generation of girls and young women in her community.
Together they welcomed the launch of Ghana’s five-year Guidance and Counselling Strategic Plan, a new Teacher Mentor Training Manual, and a Civic Education Handbook for Students, developed by Camfed in collaboration with the Ghana Education Service.
“The scope of guidance and counselling in Ghana needs to expand beyond moral and religious counselling to provide vulnerable girls with the psychosocial support they need to navigate their education and the transition to secure adulthood,” John Asibi Ali concludes. “Camfed is proud to support the Ghana Education Service as a research and implementation partner in the drive for quality education, so vital to all the Sustainable Development Goals.”
Read more about the research seminar: Camfed Ghana holds research seminar on guidance and counselling
Read more about the Annual Learning Summit: Camfed Ghana, GES Outdoor Documents To Improve Education
Read more about the national strategy:
Strategic Plan for guidance, counselling in pre-tertiary schools launched