Ashesi is happy to announce that two students, Leonard Annan '14, and Sela Kwaku Agbakpe '15 have been selected as this year's Dalai Lama Fellows at Ashesi. Leonard, a Computer Science major, and Sela, a Business Administration major, will be awarded $10,000 in project funding to scale up the Adult Literacy Programme (ALP) they started in the town of Berekuso, where Ashesi is located, in 2012.

The ALP was originally started in response to communication challenges that the Ashesi student community faced when they started engaging with the town of Berekuso to start development projects.
Dalai Lama Fellows at Ashesi to implement Berekuso's biggest literacy campaign(Sela, left, and Leonard, right, are determined to drive up Literacy rates in Berekuso, and eventually Ghana) 

"It was hard for students to really create sustainable projects in Berekuso because a lot of the people they were working with did not have basic numeracy and literacy skills," said Leonard. "We wanted to help the youth in Berekuso so they could own these projects, and not have anyone else trying to manage it for them after it was up and running."

The project to empower the people of Berekuso has now grown into an education drive that ultimately aims to empower the youth in Berekuso and other underdeveloped regions to drive development in their town. The Dalai Lama fellows will work with a curriculum they developed themselves, approved by faculty at Ashesi, and will partner with volunteers in from other universities to build and expand the project to other parts of Ghana.

"We will carry out classes in the Berekuso's Churches and Mosques," said Sela and Leonard. "We will bring the participants over to campus to come learn using some of Ashesi's facilities when needed. The idea is to eventually grow to become one of Ghana's biggest literacy projects, and reduce illiteracy in Ghana."

With personal authorization from His Holiness, the Fourteenth Dalai Lama, the Dalai Lama Fellows Programme encourages a new generation of emerging leaders to address some of our most pressing global challenges while advancing in them a deeper understanding of the need for ethical awareness and inner values as essential components of effective social change leadership.

Ashesi is part of an exclusive list of twelve international campuses that participate in the Dalai Lama Fellows programme – along with other schools such as Stanford, Oberlin and Princeton.

"We have a big vision for this project – to expand it to all other parts of Ghana that have weak literacy levels," said Sela. "This Fellowship gives us real hope that we are heading in the right direction, and we are excited to be a part of it." Leonard and Sela will visit the Dalai Lama Foundation in the U.S in June to network with mentors and other 2013 Dalai Lama fellows from other participating universities.

Dalai Lama Fellows includes three interconnected components: a meticulous selection process to identify promising Fellows at select universities; ongoing, personalized support from programme officers and outstanding experts in their fields to equip Fellows with new understandings and capabilities; and lifelong participation by all Fellows in a Global Learning Community that will strengthen each individual's capacity to lead, while fostering a sense of collective global responsibility, service and action.