Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Tour of Schools in Accra

Our second to last day in Accra we were scheduled to tour the 3 different types of schools in Ghana: a government funded school (free education), a private school, and a vocational school. You will be amazed at the difference between a government funded school and a private school! When we visited the government funded school in Asikuma their entire school day was put to a halt as the teachers met with us and shared their concerns. However, the purpose of the tour of schools in Accra was to watch the teachers and students in action. We didn’t want them to stop what they were doing….we just wanted to observe what a typical school day was like in Ghana. First up we visited Lekma Primary School in Teshie (side note - the program I use to enlarge my pics on the blog is not working for some reason, but if you want to see any of these pictures in a larger size just click the picture).
This school runs the two class shift as Asikuma did….the head master of the school said the first group of kids comes from 6am to 12noon and then the second shift comes from 12noon to 6pm. Each class size averages about 60 children. We were able to peek into many of the classes and observe the lessons being taught. Many of the children had workbooks and we were told that these workbooks were provided by U.S. Aid.
In one classroom the children were doing computer education….WITH NO COMPUTERS!!! Well, except one computer that was up at the front of the classroom on the teacher’s desk….and the computer didn’t work. But they were using it to teach the students the keys (each student could come up front and look at it).
Did you notice the board? The student’s learned/memorized the computer keys off the chalkboard!!!! And, since there were no computers, and the one that they had didn’t work, they also learned programs off the chalkboard too….
So, it’s basically all memorization and no practical experience of actually getting to use a computer. :( Another class we peeked into was learning some sort of textile technique…separating the fibers on this piece of fabric.
I also noted that this school took great length to post all sorts of signs like this everywhere in the classrooms:
Next up was a visit to a private school, Ford Schools Limited, and WOW was there a big difference!!!! This school was very comparative to a public school that you would find in the U.S. First of all, notice all of the educational pieces up on the walls!
It was easy to see that they had a lot more educational materials, more structure in the classrooms, and more teachers. In fact, the entire atmosphere was totally different than the previous school.

At this school, they also have a large number of kids, but they have enough classrooms, teachers, and materials to run multiple classes at the same time. They do not have to run the shift schedule school day as the government schools do. We observed 4 different kindergarten classes going at once. This little guy was working on his handwriting, and it was perfect!!!!!!
This school also has their own computer lab....
And they had a library!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Seeing the library obviously brought us all some great excitement and it really helped us to envision what could be constructed for the Asikuma school. Jake really took advantage of this time visiting these schools. His biggest passion in Ghana is the educational side of things….and he wants to learn everything he can so that he will have a better idea of how to empower the youth through education.

And I bet a few of you teachers out there would like to be able to write this on the chalkboard in your class!!!!!!!!!!! :)
We were able to get a handout outlining the tuition/fees charged at this school. Enrollment for one term is around 200.00 Ghana cedis (1 Ghana cedi is a little less than 1 U.S. dollar) plus about 50.00 more if you are a new student. On top of this you also pay extra for things such as stationery, p.e. clothes, and a school uniform. Total fees are under 300.00 Ghana cedis, and a little more for the junior high classes. This seems pretty reasonable until you remember that many people in Ghana are living on less than a dollar a day. This was a great school, but it’s obvious that this type of place is only for the middle to upper class. There is just no chance for the impoverished to receive a great education like this. Now I understand why child sponsorship is SO IMPORTANT in Ghana.

Another thing that we learned today was the grade structure of these primary schools. Typically you would start in Grade 1 at the age of 6. Primary schools involve Grades 1-6….at Grade 6 you would typically be 12 years old. Then you attend junior high. Junior high involves Junior High 1-3. After junior high 3 you take a big exam that would get you into high school. If you don’t pass the exam on the first try you don’t get another chance!!!!!!!!!!!!! From what it sounded like, all high schools charge tuition…there is no free education for those levels. In Ghana you take 3 years of high school. If you don’t pass the junior high exams, or don’t have enough money to attend high school, you can attend a vocational school which teaches different trades such as car mechanics, sewing, hair styling, etc. A vocational school was the last type of school we visited. The one we toured had main courses for catering and fashion design.

And that was the end of our tour of schools! On this day Doug and Chris actually had split off from our group and had a few adventures of their own as they scouted around for tools and building supplies for our projects. :) Tomorrow I hope to post some pictures of the more light-hearted moments from our trip, and then Friday I hope to post about what our exact projects in Asikuma will be. Yay!


O.squared. said...

I follow your blog and see the great need for books and computers in Ghana. Both my fiance and I are educators and know our districts consistently pay to dispose of these items when new sets are brought in. If our districts had textbooks or computers they wished to donate to these children, how would they go about doing so?

Janel said...

OH AWESOME!!!!!!! We could definitely utilize the older items. Right now it would be best to get the donations to us, and then we would take them over. Email me when/if you have donations and we can work out the details ( THANKS!!!!! This would be great!