With nothing short of drive, determination and sheer commitment to education, Amma Mensah, founder of Beyond the Classroom explains why there is a need to change current teaching practices.
With a passion to work within the youth development sector and a keen eye for social problems, Amma saw the need for a concept like Beyond the Classroom. Her previous mentoring roles within other youth organisations highlighted areas of the national curriculum which lacked in providing young people with ‘real life’ skills and knowledge. Amma feels that although the current education system does a great job in educating young people with academic skills it perhaps overlooks the need to educate youths in decision making based upon their own needs, feelings and motivations.
A holistic approach to education
Beyond the Classroom provides schools and youth organisations with theatre and mentoring based programmes which aim to support young people in their journey into adulthood. Beyond the Classroom doesn’t aim to replace the current educational system but rather develop innovative ways which fill the gaps within curriculum learning in regards to life skills and knowledge.
“Young people are the solution to our own social issues. We just have to provide the next generation with the right tools to actualise their potential,” she says.
A budding social entrepreneur with a string of business awards, Amma has been working hard on Beyond the Classrooms flagship initiative, ‘Girlhood to Womanhood’.
Girlhood to Womanhood “educates […] often taboo topics in a highly engaging and entreating way, excellent!” – Judith Arkwright, Wandsworth Council Family learning co-ordinator
The Girlhood to Womanhood programme promotes confidence, self-esteem and informed decision making to support sex education. For Amma, sex and relationship education was a particular area of interest to her. ‘I remember being told at school to use contraception when I was 16 […] but never told that I had the choice not to even be sexually active at 16, or how I might know who to share my first time with’. The driving force behind GTW was the need to present a realistic portrayal of intimate relationships and provide young people with the necessary tools to enter and maintain positive intimate relationships. The cohort created a short film about their journey through the programme, documenting how they progressed through an innovative combination of guidance, mentoring and performance.
‘Having a live cast was a lot more ‘real’ and interesting to the young people, than just reading from a text book’ –Hayley Birch, Harris Academy Girls, East Dulwich
Amma picked up the well-deserved, UnLtd Lived It ‘Impact’ Award this year for the work Beyond the Classroom has carried out.
“It was wonderful to be recognised for the impact we have had on others and the world around us!”, said the young entrepreneur.