Education is a human right with immense power         to transform.

Upon saying this, Kofi Annan spoke to the need of quality education to open doors and provided opportunities for all walks of life. Located in an area where gaining such an education would seem unlikely, The Heritage Academy of Essiam, Ghana boasts maintaining remarkable graduation rates and nurturing the minds of incredible students. Despite financial and logistical setbacks, The Heritage Academy gained success and proved that any child is worthy and capable of receiving a stellar education.

With the rising concern about the American education system, what can we learn from The Heritage Academy? By travelling to Ghana to work with the faculty and students, we intend to better understand the flaws of our education system, as well as what can be done to improve the success rates of students around the country. Back at home, we will interact with local students in Philadelphia to identify their needs and concerns with the way we currently teach and learn. How do you harbor the inherent desire for knowledge in a manner that actually fosters learning and success in the young minds that the education system is supposed to be built for? This is the goal of Five1Four9 Productions as we explore the complexities of education.

Our Personal Statement

The Heritage Academy takes an innovative approach to educating students. The school emphasizes seven core principles—knowledge, integrity, discipline, respect, responsibility, simplicity and hard work. Graduating students who embody these characteristics not only boast higher test scores on the national standardized tests, but they are better equipped to thrive as creative thinkers as they continue to pursue their academic and career goals.

Despite the success of The Heritage Academy, it would be naïve to think that the Ghanaian school system is flawless. Due to the failing rates of the rest of the nation’s schools, competition is fierce for the limited spots in the Academy. This phenomenon where students’ futures depend largely on the luck of the draw can be compared to the urban American school setting—in which students partake in lotteries to be granted access to charter schools to escape seemingly hopeless public schools.

In recent years, the Villanova University Social Justice Documentary has aimed to explore the realities of the marginalized. As college students, we value our education dearly and feel connected to the challenges surrounding the current education system. Seeing the rapid changes in local school systems put the issue of education on our radar, making it the focus of this year’s documentary. We hope to investigate what The Heritage Academy and similar schools in the United States are doing right. By working with students and teachers, we hope to find an answer to our working question that is, “What are the necessary changes that must be made to public schools so that students without the money to pay for private school no longer feel like they have to run away from urban public schools or risk falling through the cracks in our failing system?”