Mar(k): Travel, Hiking, and "Doing Good"

musings on our life of travel and volunteering

Going around the School Yard

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A lot of the volunteers that are here are involved in education.  So I thought I’d write a few thoughts on the education system in Ghana.  The responsibility for schooling children is held by a government department – the Ghana Education Service (GES).  There is a lot of focus on education, related primarily to trying to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) around education.  Specifically, the MDG include:

  • Achieve Universal Primary Education
  • Promote Gender Equity and Empower Women

School under a tree

Although it is not officially sanctioned, the times we have been at schools (usually because of interviews for articles for The ADVOCATE) we have observed the caning of children.  It is shocking.  But it is something that occurs all too regularly in classrooms here, unfortunately.  So these poor kids undoubtedly have an even more challenging time trying to learn, when they live in constant fear of being hit for being wrong, or for a myriad of other reasons.

lady preparing meals for the children as part of the School Feeding Porgramme

Other challenges that these kids face is that often there are no toilet facilities available at the school.  So if they need to relieve themselves, they have to try and find somewhere discreet; often a challenge when there is little bush around!  This is compounded greatly for young girls who reach adolescence and find they start to menstruate.  It is a very difficult situation, which results in a huge absenteeism issue for adolescent girls (there’s those challenging MDGs rearing their head, I hear you say)… indeed.

Funding is, of course, always an issue.  And we’re not talking about wildly extravagant things here.

hungry children eagerly await their meal

Most schools are lucky to have blackboards, with pre-school class sizes that can be up to 150 students learning under a tree.  Exercise books, pens and papers are all comparative luxuries.  And against this backdrop, the government recently implemented a “policy” which stated that all GES schools had to teach ICT (Information and Communication Technology – essentially computer training) to their students.  Great.  Most schools certainly didn’t need to worry about even having a single computer – many of the rural schools don’t even have electricity!  So the requirement was truly a farce.  Fortunately, it has recently been repealed, for obvious reasons.

Having said that – it is not all doom and gloom.  We have been SO impressed with the commitment that so many of the Education volunteers have to giving their all to help these kids.  The model that VSO follows is one of “sustainability’, so rather than getting volunteers to teach the kids (which isn’t sustainable – once the volunteer leaves, you need another one to take their place), the focus instead is on “teaching the teachers”.  So many of these fabulous volunteers work with the teachers themselves, providing them skills in teaching that they would not otherwise have the opportunity to receive (personal development or career development here is almost non existent).

water - this school is fortunate to at least have water... not too sure about the quality, however....

And it has been a joy to poke your head into a classroom and have all the fabulous kids in their matching school uniforms jump up and in unison proudly shout out “YOU ARE WELCOME”  (a common greeting here in Ghana).  Beautiful….


Written by Mar(k)

April 6, 2010 at 10:09 am

Posted in Life in Ghana

Tagged with , ,

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