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Going to Ghana: Social Justice Film Students Begin Journey to Examine Education Systems in Ghana and Philadelphia


Despite its location in an area with many financial and logistical challenges – where gaining a quality education might seem unlikely – The Heritage Academy of Essiam, Ghana, maintains remarkable graduation rates and is nurturing the minds of incredible students. On Oct. 12, fifteen Villanova social justice documentary students and two faculty members will depart for Ghana to examine the educational system, its students, and the reasons behind the success of The Heritage Academy.

Upon returning home from Ghana Oct. 28, the student filmmakers will begin exploring the complexities of education here in Philadelphia. With rising concerns about the American educational system, including many challenges faced by Philadelphia public schools, what can be learned from The Heritage Academy?  The filmmakers will speak with local Philadelphia public school students to identify their needs and concerns with the current system of teaching and learning, as well as interview teachers, parents and experts in the field of education who can provide insight into their observations. 

The Villanova student documentary (working title: “Learning How to Learn”) will focus on the challenges and strengths of both the domestic and foreign educational systems. The aim of the documentary is to provide a medium by which the students, teachers, parents, and experts in the film can express their thoughts and concerns about the education systems prevalent in their lives.  

The student filmmakers in professor Hezekiah Lewis’ class have aptly named their production team Five1Four9 Productions. The name refers to the distance in miles between Philadelphia and Cape Coast, Ghana. Despite the immense geographic distance between the two areas, they are connected by individuals with the intense desire to better the quality of education. Click here to learn more about Five1Four9 Productions, their upcoming trip, and the goals of the documentary.

Now in its fourth year, Villanova’s Social Justice Documentary class provides students the opportunity to learn about filmmaking through hands-on training exploring real-world issues. The filmmakers use the experience to create documentaries which examine important social justice issues and allow them to become advocates for those issues. The work is funded by Villanova’s Waterhouse Family Institute for the Study of Communication and Society (WFI). Founded in 2010, WFI promotes the study of communication by emphasizing social justice, ethical leadership and community, and the ability of those key influencers to create a more just world.

About Villanova University: Since 1842, Villanova University’s Augustinian Catholic intellectual tradition has been the cornerstone of an academic community in which students learn to think critically, act compassionately and succeed while serving others. There are more than 10,000 undergraduate, graduate and law students in the University's five colleges – the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the Villanova School of Business, the College of Engineering, the College of Nursing and the Villanova University School of Law. As students grow intellectually, Villanova prepares them to become ethical leaders who create positive change everywhere life takes them.