Another blog from Chris Minch, our 2013 Assistant Volunteer Coordinator.
From my limited time spent in Ghanaian classrooms up until now, a few things have struck me as me very interesting. It is worth noting before I begin though, that I am by no means an expert on education and I have only actually spent time in three Ghanaian schools so my experience of education here is quite narrow.
One thing which becomes immediately obvious is how passionate Ghanaians’ are about education. It forms a huge chunk of the government’s budget (about 25%) as primary and junior secondary education are provided free of charge and are compulsory. Teachers and children are aware of, and quick to emphasise, the importance of education in both societal and personal development. As a result, they take school very seriously. This commitment to education is refreshing in comparison to home where the majority of students appear to not want to be there and governments are cutting back education budgets year on year at the moment.
Another thing that is very noticeable is that the style of learning is very different to that of back home. In classrooms here, students often learn topics by rote and by repetition. This is practical considering teachers often lack the resources needed to bring topics to life, and there can be up to 50 students in one class, making all-inclusive understanding nearly impossible. However, as a result of this, weaker students can get left behind and aren’t given a chance to catch up. It also means that students get used to one specific style of learning, and this style is not very conducive to sparking their creative sides and their imagination. This has a knock on effect on problem solving and their ability to think on their feet when given more freedom to express themselves in the classroom.
Having just started our second week of summer school for Year 6 class students in St. Cecilia’s School, the focus of the extra-curricular classes run by the volunteers has been on getting the students to come up with novel ideas, think on their feet, and use their imagination. So far, this hasn’t been the easiest of tasks. The children just aren’t used to their imaginations being given free reign and as a result sometimes they just clam up rather than expressing themselves. However, at the end of the first week, they were relaxing more into the classes and becoming more animated in the activities they were doing. This is extremely encouraging and I am looking forward to seeing how it develops over the six weeks of the summer school. I have high hopes that by encouraging a style of learning slightly different from the Ghanaian norm, this will supplement their curricular learning and prove beneficial for all involved.