Ocean Leaders Stephen Kankam & Yolanda Sanchez: Marine Education in Ghana

During May 2023, Ocean Leader Fellows, Yolanda Sanchez and Stephen Kankam, collaborated on an ocean literacy project in Ghana. Yolanda, a marine education expert, traveled to Ghana to work alongside Stephen at Hen Mpoano, an organization he co-founded. Together, they aimed to enhance the development of marine education activities that would support Hen Mpoano’s ongoing projects, primarily focused in small-scale fishing communities in Takoradi in the Western Region of Ghana. Hen Mpoano, which translates as ‘our coast’, addresses critical issues such as food insecurity, climate change, over-fishing, gender inequality, urbanization, and poverty.

On Yolanda’s arrival in Ghana, she joined Stephen in visiting the coastal communities where Hen Mpaono is working. “Visiting the communties helped me better understand the main topics [Hen Mpoano] are focusing on and the goals they have for their campaigns” explains Yolanda. This understanding was important as over the next week she would be conducting training sessions on ocean literacy activities for the Hen Mpoano team.

 Spanning over five-days, the training engaged Hen Mpoana staff in hands-on activities, focused on experiential learning. The team engaged in various creative activities including singing, using play dough and drawing. The training sessions centred on cultivating critical thinking skills, sparking creativity, and empowering individuals to apply their knowledge in making informed decisions.

Towards the end of the course, the Hen Mpoano team went on a field trip to explore the coast and put their newfound knowledge as marine educators into practise. As the culmination of their learning experience, the group collaborated on designing an activity which was implemented at a local school on the final day.

Stephen expressed his appreciation for the valuable learning opportunity Yolanda brought to Hen Mpoano, he explained: “For us at Hen Mpoano, this was an excellent learning opportunity. It helped us improve our knowledge and awareness of the concept of ocean literacy and provided us the platform to test a suite of tools and methodologies for creatively engaging school children and more broadly, fishing communities to explore bottom-up solutions to conservation problems.”

Learn more about Hen Mpoano here

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