Doreen Oparebea…the lady with many parts
I have never come across someone, in fact, a lady, who is made of many parts than Oparebea. She is a professional teacher who holds two master’s degrees.
However, she decided to expand her knowledge in vocational training and now has expertise in five different types of vocations—sewing, pastry, bead making, wig making, and pedicure and manicure. With these skills, she has opened a school to train others. Find out how she did it.
Doreen Oparebea Odei, the second of four children, was born in Akim Oda, Eastern Region. She is a product of the Apam Secondary School. From there, she went to the University of Cape Coast and obtained a Bachelor of Education degree in Economics and Geography. After graduating in 2007, she was posted to the Presbyterian Women College of Education, Aburi, for her national service. After her service, she was retained in the same institution as a permanent teacher to teach social studies and HIV AIDS education.
But as part of government policy, one must have a second degree before the person is allowed to teach in a college of education. So Oparebea went back to UCC to pursue a master’s degree programme in Guidance and Counselling. As if that was not enough, she pursued another master’s programme in Teacher Education in Social Studies at the same university.
There are many who would feel that they have made it in life after having a secured job and obtaining two second degrees. But the ‘iron lady’ will not settle for that. In fact, she is the kind that never gets tired of learning new things, and so decided to move into vocational training.
How the vocation started
Her interest in vocation started in her early years. She used to practice the basics of sewing by using thread and needle to patch her clothes and that of her younger sister when she was in the Junior High School. Then, when she reached level 200 in the university, she decided to make that childhood hobby an occupation.
“During the long vacation, I told some friends of mine whether they knew a fashion school where I could learn to sew. They showed me a place at Obestebi Lamptey Roundabout in Accra. The course was a six-month course, but I told them I had only three months available. So, instead of attending only the morning class, I sat through to the evening. So, within three months, I was able to finish the course.”
Right after knowing how to sew professionally, she started cladding herself with dresses she sewed by herself. Soon, people began showing interest in them and started making orders.
But she didn’t stop there. She went on to learn how to weave wigs, do pedicure and manicure, makeups, pastries, and beads, just to expand her knowledge in vocation.
In no time, the sewing began to take a toll on her as loads of orders started coming from both students and colleague teachers in her school.
“I like working at night and so I used the night to sew the orders I got from people. I remember I didn’t sleep for three nights and the next day, I slept while I was driving and got involved in an accident. So, after that incidence, I decided to put the vocation on hold.”
But she gave it a second thought. She decided to rather open a vocational school which will allow her impart the knowledge she has acquired to others so they could also earn a living.
The birth of Professional School of Artistry
With the savings she had made, she registered her business under the name Professional School of Artistry, and opened a shop at Ahwirase, near Aburi in the Eastern Region. She uses her social media accounts on Facebook and Instagram to advertise her business.
In view of the fact that the school is attracting a lot of interest from people, her present location is not so suitable to keep up with demand. But as innovative is her hallmark, she has adopted a perfect model that is helping her meet the demands of the job.
“What we do is that, we rent venues in cities and towns for some days to train applicants who apply outside our home base. For example, we have booked a place in Kumasi to train those who apply from Ashanti Region and its environs.
One main challenge she has encountered is people’s lack of confidence in her institution. According to her, when some people hear about the relatively short period of her training, they begin to doubt how efficient it would be.
“Some of the applicants even wonder if they will be able to get the concept within that short time, because you realise that some people use three to four years to study sewing, but we can use three months to learn the basics. The difference is that those who use three years sometimes go to the work place and do nothing. Others can be doing the same work for a whole month, thinking there is more time. But in actual fact, that is a waste of time. For us, we make sure you use the short time available to learn every necessary skill.
How education has helped her
“My education has really done me a lot of good. My second degree in Master of Teacher Education has helped me learn how to teach effectively. So, it has not been difficult for me at all to teach people. I can better understand them and know how to present my message so that everyone will understand it.”
Professional School of Artistry wants to be a one-stop school for vocational training in the country where students can choose from a whole range of skills.
How government can support
Oparebea believes if government heightens interest in vocational training and commits a lot of resources to it, more jobs can be created in order to address the unemployment situation.
Advice to unemployed graduates
“Unemployed graduates should sit down and reflect; they may have a skill they have not utilised. Even with the knowledge they acquired from school, they can use that knowledge to start something that will help other people.”