To celebrate and explore the potential of student leadership, Teach For All is collecting and sharing stories from across the network and around the globe. When students LEAD, we all LEARN.

Teach For America

Cameroon Youth Reform Initiative

Student Leaders
Junior Beauclaire Choumkwa Mbanya
Adult Supporter
Wisdom Amouzou
Age of Students

Please describe how your students exercised their leadership and the impact they had.

Beauclaire was a student at the African Leadership Academy who was in my Writing & Rhetoric class last year. Our co-constructed vision for the year was "To become a conscious, and empowered individual who can use a decolonized voice to speak truth to power and to advocate for myself, my family, and my people". Beauclaire was also enrolled in a class called Entrepreneurial Leadership where students received training on personal leadership, human-centered design thinking, and practice running student enterprises. Beauclaire thought both classes could complement the other if implemented effectively. One gave him the ability to critically analyze pain, to identify and internalize a commitment to take action against the social, political, and economic elements of oppression in his society. The other class gave him practical skills for exercising leadership.

With this in mind, Beauclaire, while still finishing up the second and third term of his final school year, started a non-profit organization called Cameroon Youth Reform Initiative. It is an initiative which aims at educating youths to think for themselves and find themselves while also converting their ideas to sustainable projects. On July 20th-22nd, 2016, Beauclaire returned to his home country of Cameroon and with the team he spent close to 5 months assembling, he implemented a 3-day pilot workshop series for nearly 40 students aged 13-21.

What role did you play in supporting your students’ leadership?

Over the course of 5 months before the first pilot was implemented, Beauclaire, with a dilligence I've never seen before in a student, got me invested in his project. I mean Beauclaire went as far as showing up at my door step in the middle of the night just to pitch the idea to me and to convince me to help him come up with activities and exercises similar to those he had experienced in my class. In a beautiful example of teacher learning from student, I felt inspired by Beauclaire's agency and decided to get more serious about my Education Blog called "Street Knowledge". It seemed like the perfect opportunity to develop the practical real-world impact of the blog. So, we decided to partner and essentially co-write the curriculum. Beauclaire even forced me to write a contract and sign it!

He also partnered with his school, and a local community organization called JumpStart Academy Africa. In our partnership, my responsibilities were to:
• Provide workshop materials, activities, and content using the framework of Education as Liberation and the 5 A’s of developing a liberatory consciousness
• Publish photographs, videos and writing content produced during the 3-Day camp on our blog, YouTube channel and Facebook page.
• Be available to meet virtually with any facilitators prior to start of the 3-Day camp and provide training materials
Debrief meeting at the end of the camp to reflect on successes and challenges and discuss future of partnership

Ultimately, I was so inspired to see a student take action I even went beyond our contract and contributed personal funds for the total $1200 he raised to implement his idea.

What did you and your students learn in this activity that will endure beyond today?

We have already had our debrief session and are most excited to refine the idea and make the next iteration even more powerful. Beauclaire graduated from high school and is moving on to college in the States. We plan on piloting another program in Colorado where I'm now located before the next iteration in Cameroon.

Beauclaire learned A LOT from the practical experience of trying to materialize his idea.

1. LOGISTICS - from the multiple guest speakers that canceled or had to be rescheduled, the transportation and meals that had to be coordinated, Location, Photographer & Videographer etc...

2. LEADERSHIP - investing his team and participants in a vision, managing a diverse team of 6 facilitators from various backgrounds and ages, ranging from two secondary teachers, a recent college graduate, and two students

3. FUNDRAISING - applying for grants, putting together a proposal, developing measurement tools for impact, calling family, community members, etc...

4. ORGANIZING - Beauclaire was exceptional at organizing his fellow students and teacher to get involved...from hiring a fellow student to design his logo to finding and aligning mutual interests

The most important lesson learned overall that I know will endure beyond today is simply..."take action". The most important measurement of any pedagogy is action. Action of any kind no matter how basic or well-organized. Beauclaire has demonstrated the progression of his transformative resistance and has taken full ownership of his praxis. I'm excited to see how interacting with other student leaders from across the globe will push him to the next level.