By Joseph Herrera/Staff writer/@josephherrera91
“I would love to go back with my family. One of the things about Africa is that it is beautiful, Ghana is beautiful”.
Counselor Dewayne Sheaffer was invited for a weeklong trip to the Republic of Ghana, a nation on West Africa’s Gulf of Guinea, to attend the Educational International 10th further and Higher Education & Research Conference.
Sheaffer was invited by Lily Eskelsen Garcia, President of the National Education Association, the largest labor union in United States, to stay in Ghana from Saturday, Nov. 12 to Saturday, Nov. 19. The education and research conference took place from Monday, Nov. 14 to Thursday, Nov. 16. Within the three-day span, the varying topics included discussing research into higher education, more specifically inadequate public funds, low student participation rate and inadequate salaries.
“Students are finishing school, but are not getting jobs,” Sheaffer said, “I heard a friend of mine said they are all dressed up but with no place to go.”
According to World Bank, higher education in Ghana is disproportionately “consumed” by the richest 20 percent of the population. Students from the highest income bracket have seven times more the chance to enter and successfully complete higher education than students who come from a lower income.
Sheaffer also recalled a story about a man who was incarcerated for expressing his beliefs on education. Miguel Angel Beltran, a teacher at Colombia’s National University, studied armed conflict and social division in Colombia. Beltran’s ideas displeased Colombia’s rulers and he has been imprisoned intermittently since 2009. A Colombian academic has been acquitted from his eight year sentence by the Colombian Supreme Court, making him a free man.
During his off time, Sheaffer visited Cape Coast Castle, a haunting reminder that sits on the coast. It was once used as a slave castle built by European traders in 1610. Thousands of enslaved Africans were brought to Cape Coast Castle to be auctioned off to slave ships. Africans were imprisoned in what the British called “slave holes,” or dungeons in the basement of the Castle that had little ventilation and no windows.
Sheaffer said, “I was humbled to be standing at a place where my ancestors were stripped from their homeland, family, and friends. Sent to a place to work for free like a piece of property they were not. I did not think I would be do emotional from this experience, but I am. One of the best days of my life!”
Ghana is having their upcoming presidential election on Wednesday, Dec. 7. Sheaffer met with several townspeople and made a discussion with regarding the political process. What was intriguing to him was that he the citizens express their concern on the American 2016 Election: “They were dumbfounded by Trump winning the election,” Sheaffer said, “They shook my hand and offered their condolences.”