It is reported that in sub-Saharan Africa, more than 182 adults are unable to read and write; and 48 million youths (ages 15-24) are illiterate. In 2015, it was estimated that adult literacy rate was 63 percent. This is unacceptable in our modern Africa. Something must be done, and it must be done well. That is why two young men, Kafui and Prince, are leading the charge to end illiteracy on the continent with their NGO—Idea Africa. Read on as Kafui share their story with the B&FT’s Inspiring Start-ups.
Wisdom Kafui Honu grew up in Tumu, Upper West Region. He is a graduate from the University of Professional Studies, Accra, where he obtained a degree in Banking and Finance. His partner, Prince Kwame Agbata also has a degree in Computer Engineering from the Ghana Technology University in Accra.
The duo date back to their times in the senior high school when they were both engaged in many activities such as debates, outreach programmes, and many more.
It was in one of those outreach programmes that Kafui observed something and it forever changed the course of his life and that of his friend.
“I remember during one of the outreach programmes in one village, I walked into a classroom and saw a teacher teaching science and sadly, he had just one text book to teach the 34 pupils. I really felt sad about it because these kids will be examined on what they were learning so I wondered how they would answer.
And again, when I compared their situation to their counterparts in the urban areas I felt sadder. I thought about how they would be able to compete with these kids when they meet in the senior high or somewhere in life. The gap between the rural and urban education system is too big and it’s widening up because resources abound in the urban communities, but are lacking in the rural communities,” Kafui said.
It was these experience and thoughts that moved Kafui to think about what he can do to bring about change to the lives of those poor kids. He communicated the idea to Prince and they derived an action plan.
Idea Africa kick-starts
Kafui and Prince didn’t want to remain just spectators, but citizens. They didn’t have money to buy new books and donate to the school. All they did was to look through their library and take out the books they no longer needed; appeal to friends to also bring theirs on board so that they donate to the needy schools. The plan worked perfectly for them and they got a lot of people supporting the initiative.
This continued for a while and they again felt they should do more than just providing old books. They decided to provide community library facilities and stock them with books and other stationery resources.
The plan is not to build new libraries per se, but to transform existing structures that exist in the communities as libraries. So far, they have donated to 13 libraries across the country and even beyond.
Out of these, two of the projects are in Atakpame, Togo and Karaba,Burkina Faso. The rest are Ogrado, Volta Region; Omanjor, Accra; Asasekorkor, Eastern Region; Varempare, Upper West region. The others are in Assin Manso, Avenorpeme, Akyem Sweduro, Teshie Rasta, Agona Sweduro, and Savelugu.
Since late 2013, when they embarked on this project, more than 15,000 kids have benefited from the facilities they have provided for the communities.
“There is one community we provided with our facilities and decided to spend a month with them and help the kids. To our surprise, these kids who could not speak English began speaking and reading English after the four weeks.”
And more than 250 people—both local and international—have also volunteered to join the project.
Recognition and awards
- African Child Advocate Award 2017 – The Education Communuty in Ghana, West Africa honoured Idea Africa with this award for the exceptional impact our libraries were making.
- Overall Winner of the Reach for Change 2017 Innovative SDG4 Competition on the Day of the African Child.
- Overall Winner of the British Council Blazing Trails Project. September 2017
“We are looking at an Africa where every child has equal access to quality education where they can have a second chance to dream again and for their dreams to come true.”
The major challenge that many NGOs face is funding. Crowd funding has been their main source of funding their projects. But quite fortunately for them, they have won a couple of grants from a few organisations such as British Council and Reach for Change Africa that have been helpful to them to some point.
Beside the funding challenge, they also face the daunting task of getting books for the projects. Again, they rely on the benevolence of individuals and organisations to donate some books for the projects. However, these donations are not forthcoming lately.
But quite recently, an NGO that is also into education called Ciciyaa Foundation has come to their aid to support them with books annually.
How government can support
“Even though government is doing their best to provide education for all Ghanaians, there is still many more it has to do to eradicate illiteracy. Government should make it as a matter of urgency to get books to all the rural areas of the country.”
Advice to the youth
Kafui wants fellow young people to support the course of charity and voluntary work, as he believes that is what will have a larger impact on the lives of many, especially, the underserved and deprived in our communities.
Appeal for support
Idea Africa is sending out a warm appeal to corporate Ghana and individuals to support the course it has initiated. The support can be made in either cash donations or in kind, specifically, educational materials.
Contact: To support Idea Africa, contact them 0242969279 or visit Idea Africa on Facebook or Instagram.