Can you still remember your graduation ceremony? That feeling of pure happiness after passing all of your final exams? Passing my A-levels was the moment which paved my way to university and brought me closer to fulfilling my life goals.
This thought crossed my mind a few weeks ago, during my last trip to Africa, when I was invited to the graduation ceremony of SOS-Hermann-Gmeiner International College (SOS-HGIC) in Ghana.
A fantastic ceremony at a marvelous venue!
The graduates were at least as excited and proud as me back then. And besides the speeches given by students and teachers, fantastic fringe events took place: with traditional dances from various African countries,
brightly colored traditional clothes
and also a choir which saturated the whole room with deep joyfulness.
It was really impressive, because the students of SOS-HGIC are not only invariably talented in their subjects but also well educated in the fields of communication, history and culture.
This was exactly what the founders of SOS-Hermann-Gmeiner International College in Ghana – Mr. Helmut Kutin and Dr. Margret Nkrumah – had in mind in 1990: they intended to give Africa’s most gifted teenagers access to education on the highest level.
Thereby, they should be given a chance to become part of the international elite in economy, politics and culture, which has a firm hand on the tiller regarding world affairs.
This year, after four years of intense education, 90 young people from fifteen African nations have achieved their graduation in form of an IB (International Baccalaureate). It is comparable to the German “Abitur” and therefore a diploma of the highest international standard, which grants the graduates access for studies at elite universities all over the world.
The SOS-HGIC graduates with their IB-Diplomas appreciate and naturally make use of studying abroad. A few are often even granted highly remunerated scholarships – from Harvard University, University of British Columbia or Jacobs University among others.
Meanwhile, even many western countries have realized that investments into the youth always pay off, because “Africa is the continent of chances” and can therefore play a massive role in the setup of a global society of science in the near future.
As for me, a particular figure is quite interesting which had been published at the beginning of July in connection with the Day of World Population: 1.8 billion. This stands for the number of 10- to 24-year-olds currently on the planet, whereas the majority comes from developing countries, especially Africa.
If we would pursue this idea, to invest into the next generation regarding a best possible education, optimal health care and emotional stability, it would mean, for Africa alone, that countless teenagers would get a huge chance, for themselves and Africa as well, on a future with a better, autonomous, healthy life.
Like all the young people I had the pleasure to meet at the SOS-HGIC during their graduation ceremony. An incredible diversity of strong personalities and prospects, who are in no way inferior to the international standard of students regarding their education, their self-confidence and their visions of the future.
That’s exactly what it is – Africa’s “generation of doers”, of which I often like to refer to as the most powerful force on the continent for a bright future. The generation which can change Africa’s future due to their education in heart and soul and make decisions in service of the people.
The Swiss newspaper NZZ calls them CHANGE AGENTS in an article about the SOS-HGIC. I just love this wording because it describes these teenagers so perfectly. It will be up to these “Change Agents” to carry the modern image of Africa into the world.
And when the graduates return to Africa after finishing their studies in economics, politics, communication or art, they will independently and under their own efforts drive further the development of the nations on the continent.
At the graduation ceremony in Ghana, the SOS-HGIC says farewell to its alumni and wishes them all the best.
But also with a request in accordance with their school philosophy: KNOWLEDGE IN SERVICE OF AFRICA: wherever you go, wherever you study, bring your knowledge back home!
And by the end of this colorful, warm, atmospheric and special event at the SOS-HGIC in Ghana, I’m also proud of the graduates and their passed exams and I’m full of hope:
For a renewed enthusiasm for Africa’s development towards a modern, sophisticated, confident and young continent on an equal footing with the rest of the world.