The Future of Education

Edition 14

Accepted Abstracts

Empowering Education through African Wax Prints: Utilizing Visual Storytelling to Teach Essential Life Skills in Basic Schools

Xorlali Plange, New York University (United States)


Wax Prints (Ankara/Ntoma) have a profound historical and contemporary significance in African material culture, stemming from a naming system developed by women traders from Ghana. This system has evolved into a nuanced mode of communication, reflecting societal values and fostering community bonds. Wax prints play a crucial role in storytelling across various contexts, including theater, social justice movements, and basic education. This study examines sixty wax prints to uncover their role in
shaping narratives and dialogue, particularly through their symbolic meanings. Ten of these prints are specifically related to the foundation and upbringing of a child. In Ghanaian culture, an adage says, “Charity begins at home,” emphasizing the importance of family systems and the education system in holistically shaping children. While formal education programs worldwide may incorporate basic life skills, the method is often subtle. The study explores how wax prints can be used as a method of visual storytelling in basic classroom settings to reinforce important life skills learned in school. By introducing wax prints to children between the ages of 9 and 15 in a basic school workshop, students were inspired to produce essays and artwork. The findings suggest that wax prints serve as more than just fabric; they spark conversations, ignite creativity, and serve as tangible reminders of basic life principles. This research highlights the potential of wax prints for engaging students in meaningful ways and
disseminating information about essential life skills such as discipline, financial literacy, the importance of school activities beyond the classroom, effective communication, mental health, and emotional intelligence. By incorporating wax prints into educational settings, educators can create a visually stimulating and culturally enriching environment that resonates with students on a deeper level.
Keywords: Education, Basic, Visual, Life Skills, Storytelling, Interdisciplinary.
[1] Cobb, S. E. (1998). A Critical Discussion of the History, Function and Literary Relevance of Ghanaian Wax Prints. African Diaspora Collection. School for International Training.

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