The 3rd African Youth Education Award will take place in Hamburg this month. So we interviewed the CEO of TopAfric, Mr. Desmond John Beddy, who is also the main organizer of the event. The participants are students with African heritages, that live in Germany and have gained admission into German universities, as well as students that have completed an apprenticeship.
Q: Can you give us a brief summary of what the AYE-Award is?
Just a small amount of the Africans in Germany are studying or doing an apprenticeship (Ausbildung). That’s why we initiated the African Youth Education Award, so as to motivate more of the youths to take education seriously. The Award is a yearly discussion of education awareness in our communities.
Q: How did everything start?
We invented the program in 2011. I once had an interview with the ambassador of Ghana and he asked me the question “what have you done for your people?” I didn’t know how to answer this question and was seriously thinking about it for a long time. In the end I came to the conclusion that I want to do something for my people in the education sector. So I developed the African Youth Education Award.
Q: Have you been able to reach some of your target and do you intend to reach more?
Definitely yes. For sure the AYE-Award wasn’t as successful as it is today. We make mistakes, but we learn from them, correct them and get better.
We want to celebrate our children and we want the people to say education is “cool”. Because at the moment if you play football you are “cool”, but if you concentrate on education and you do very well in school you are “uncool”.
We also want to bring some role models like lawyers, engineers or diplomats to our platform.
Q: Which communities have you been able to reach and how many more do you intend to reach?
The goal of the project is to reach the entire African communities. We already reached out to the Ghanaian ambassador as well as the ambassadors of Togo, Congo and Mali. So we encourage all the communities to also reach out to us.
Q: How do you organize and finance the event?
Education is one of the most expensive things in life. TopAfric is the main organizer of the event, but basically different institutions also help us. Personalities and institutions like the Ghanaian ambassador, Gerald Asamoah, Otto Addo, Dr. Armah from Biomedical GmbH & Co. KG and the "Zentrum für Mission und Ökumene", and Ogbeiwi Facility Management support us.
But the wish we have for the future is that more African churches take a responsibility for their people too, because they have the majority of people.
Q: Do you have any difficulties during the organization?
In life there are always difficulties. So of course we have a lot of challenges and it is always a difficult task and the financial aspect is always a risk. But for sure we are moving forward and this year for example we have ten tablets for the participants.
Q: When and where is the next event taking place?
The event always takes place towards the middle of October. So this year it is set up for the 19th of October and will be held at the Albert-Schäfer-Saal (IHK). Adolphsplatz 1, 20457 Hamburg.
Q: How did you get The Handelskammer as your location? Is Hamburg City supporting you also?
Of course Hamburg is supporting us. You can´t make such an event without the support of the city. Especially the Handelskammer and the Ministry of Education (Schulbehörde), and the Ghana and Kenya Consulate are very supportive.
Q: Do you intend to implement the project in other German cities?
Right now we are not able to organize the event outside of Hamburg. But we offer students from other cities the possibility to attend the Award by paying their transportation cost and organize accommodation if necessary.
But if all communities work together and are more supportive we might shift the location to other cities in the future.
Q: Can you give us a final statement about how you feel about the upcoming event?
Every year I get nervous and every year we are trying to make a step forward. So this year we promised to provide tablets for the participants. This is an extra responsibility that makes me even more nervous. But I hope that everything works out like we want it to.