As on-going partners with the Centre for Social Innovations, based in Kumasi, Ghana, we were excited to sit down with co-founder Benson Adjei to pick his brain about the organization. They are making big changes in education and development in Ghana and we are humbled to be a small piece of their story! Read on to learn more about how Ghanian kids are making an impact in their own communities!
CSI co-founder, Benson Adjei, leading a Young Social Innovators workshop.
What is the mission and vision of the Centre for Social Innovations (CSI)?
CSI exists to empower people of all ages with the skills for developing creative and authentic solutions to social and environmental challenges using local assets and resources. As an educational and community development social enterprise, we believe that the best opportunity to achieve this is to work with educators at all levels, youth groups and young professionals to help them identify how their knowledge, skills and talents could be leveraged to bring about social and environmental change. This also involves working with local communities on one hand to build partnerships that will enable us to co-create solutions to pressing social and environmental challenges.
Why have you chosen to work in the education sector (with schools of varying levels)?
We are working with schools at all levels of the educational system because we believe that the current system does not provide students with sufficient opportunities to explore how their knowledge, skills, and talents could be utilized to bring about change in their lives, communities and the entire society. The system which is designed to allow students to accumulate knowledge through rote learning and reproduce that same knowledge in examinations to progress through the system only empowers students with the skills for paperwork at the expense of nurturing their creative potentials. This entrenched shortcoming of the educational system in Ghana is what the Young Social Innovators’ (YSI) program has been designed to address.
Through partnerships with educational institutions, students use our curriculum for social and environmental change to identify and develop creative solutions to pressing social and environmental challenges in their school, communities, country, and the world. As the students go through this experience, they not only contribute to national development but also develop the critical skills for the 21st century such as critical and creative thinking, verbal and written communication, collaboration, leadership, and active citizenship.
Students participating in a Young Social Innovators workshop.
What excites students most about participating in CSI programs?
Our programs are a big departure from the teacher-centered approach to knowledge acquisition that the students are used to. We give them the opportunity to not only own the learning process but also see the real world relevance of what they learn. Most of them have never had the opportunity to experience this prior to joining our program and they always wish we keep on coming back to their schools.
What are 3 skills you think are most important for children to build in order to help them grow into healthy, successful adults?
I think that in the 21st century, children need more than good grades in English, Mathematics, and Science (EMS) to be successful in life. They need the skills for creative/critical thinking and inter-cultural communication to be able to work with people from different parts of the world. They also need to develop empathy so that they can contribute to making the world a better place and most importantly, they need the skills to work successfully in diverse teams.
How has the partnership with Imprints Press helped you to run CSI programs?
We owe a lot of gratitude to Imprints Press for the cash donation to enable more than 200 children across five (5) Basic Schools in Kumasi benefit from our Young Social Innovators’ (YSI) program. We have also benefited immensely from the experience of Imprints Press’ Co-Founder, Jennifer Chizek in curriculum development, creative writing and international development. We do believe that more partnerships like these could contribute immensely to the sustainable development of the African continent and the world in general.