Footprint Africa: Raising Literacy in Africa: Student starts organization to raise literacy and give aid to the deaf in Africa

Written by: 
Devaughn Huntoon-Jones~Multimedia Journalist

Augustine Cassis Obeng Boateng, a freshman in psychology from Ghana, is the leader of a growing foundation that aims to increase literacy in Africa. Through volunteer work and donation coordination, Boateng has already paved the way to improved education in Ghana and garnered attention from high-level charitable organizations.

With little aid from larger scale NGOs or the UN, the student led organization, Footprint Africa Foundation (FAN), has garnered an impressive resume of accomplishments involving improving Ghana literacy. In Takoradi, a city in western Ghana, FAN has championed an ongoing project to raise a public school, said Boateng. Working with a retired teacher, the volunteers plan to expand the school once the project is complete to allow more room for students.

Boateng additionally aims to give aid to the deaf, expanding his already impressive vision. He described, “Society has neglected the physically challenged. We’ve taken it up to fix that.”

Footprint has worked with Dr. Bill Vickers, a worldwide leader in deaf studies, to bring a dictionary for deaf individuals to Ghana. The arrival of the dictionary will aid the deaf in not only Ghana, but in all of Africa. FAN has also established large contacts, notably the nonprofit foundation, Books for Africa, said Boateng. With donations from charitable donors, the foundations are working together to develop and ship over 22,000 books to Ghana. When asked about expanding his aid efforts, Boateng responded, “We are looking at exploring global avenues. Ghana is not our limit.” The foundation has many more projects on the horizon.

Footprint was brought about by Boateng’s early realization of the importance of education. “My mom is a teacher,” he described, “[She] taught me that the only way I could elevate myself from poverty was through education.” He went on to detail his brief schooling in Ghana before moving to America to attend BYU-Hawaii, consequentially getting his first exposure to common charitable organizations that forward food and clothing to third world countries. “It’s a good thing,” he described, “but it doesn’t help the people become self reliant. The best way is through education.”

His sad tale included stories of school buildings collapsing on children due to poor construction, a shortage of textbooks, and desks that are too small to suit the number of students. He detailed, “Sometimes as many as 15 children would share a textbook.” The lack of progression drove him to take action. “I know what education can do for the people,” he said, “It’s something I can help these people achieve.”

When asked about where he sees the status of his organization a year from now, he responded confidently, “We want to have built 200 schools by then. We also want an increased Ghana literacy rate.”

“We want a broader impact” in five years said Boateng, and, “We want more girls in schools, more high school students, and more students enrolling in technical and vocational schools.” His foundation is only 9 months old and has already had a massive impact on African education, an accolade he attributes to his connection to the people.

“We have love for these people,” he said, “We’re doing something that will change their lives forever, that’s not something we can gain in a classroom”.