In the United States, we often take for granted the access to education.  In other countries, the same access to education is often not found.  In the African nation of Ghana, some children are lucky to get an elementary school education due to the financial status of their families. Boys are more likely to continue their education beyond elementary school than girls.

Choosing fabric in Ghana

This semester in MAT 547, Social and Psychological Aspects of Apparel, students have been learning about Ghanaian culture and dress. Dr. Kim Spillman, associate professor in merchandising, apparel and textiles, designed a special class project based upon her experiences from a research trip to Ghana in 2010.  Guest speakers shared their experiences in Ghana, and students have analyzed Ghanaian fabric designs.  Working in groups, they recently completed an assignment that challenged them to propose a project related to clothing, sewing, fabric or dress that would provide economic development for girls and women to assist them in furthering their education.  

Creativity was on display as the groups shared their ideas through in-class presentations.  The project engaged students to think globally and understand the role of clothing, sewing, fabric and dress in economic development.  The student ideas focused on differing aspects of apparel design, construction and sales.

  • Provide patterns, supplies and training to enable women and girls to sew small items like coin purses, clutches and small pouches.
  • Partner with Ghanaian women to design and produce jewelry and batik scarves.
  • Provide patterns and supplies for clothing construction.
  • Train seamstresses in quality control and garment labeling to improve finished products.
  • Plan and conduct a series of economic empowerment workshops to textile and jewelry making skills and economic skills of girls and women.

    Dr. Janet Mullins, associate professor in nutrition and food science, has traveled to Ghana three times in recent years and attended the in-class presentations.  Dr. Mullins remarked, “The five groups of students presented well-conceived plans to engage UK students with international students while empowering women with economic resources.” 

    Dr. Kim Spillman, associate professor in merchandising, apparel and textiles, and instructor for MAT 547 shared, “I was pleased with the many ideas generated by the students to help girls and women in Ghana through textile-related proposals. The students developed small and large ideas; the combination of which could be implemented over time and sustained indefinitely.”

    Posted 5/3/12