Did you know that t he illiteracy rate in Ghana is 60% and most children—especially girls—never make it past 9th grade. In the Ghanaian village of Konko, no one has gone on to high school in the last ten years. These were pretty unsettling stats for children’s author, poet, and founder of the innovative school-based program Book-in-a-Day Kwame Alexander. Alexander visited Ghana for the first time earlier this year, when his colleague and friend Juanita “BZ” Britton was installed as Queen Mother Nana Botwe Adobea II of Konko Village. While there, he met with educators and prospective students, gaining insight into the challenges each faces.
Upon returning to the states, he began to develop L.E.A.P., the Literacy & Empowerment Action Project, an organization that will launch a multi-phase plan for educational sustainability. Alexander will travel back to Ghana in September with a group of writers, activists, and professionals to repair schoolhouses, distribute new books, and model creative writing and reading strategies that teachers can immediately implement. They will also be hosting a girl’s empowerment mini-conference in conjunction with the Miss Ghana Tourism pageant.
As L.E.A.P. is an initiative in its infancy, it is in great need of donations and funding. The L.E.A.P. fundraising site has outlined the group’s needs, which include refurbished laptops and tablets, awareness raising via Facebook and Twitter, and monetary donations. Their goal is to raise $15,000 in time for their trip to Ghana in September.