Welcome to my blog about one Cuso International volunteer adventure happening in the Upper West Region of Ghana. The information and ramblings presented here are my opinions and not necessarily those of Cuso International or VSO.
In March of 1956, Ghana became the first African Nation to become a democratic free nation.March 6 is the national holiday to remember its independence.Unlike holidays in North America, here the festivities are in the mornings and focus on school children and marching. No fireworks or picnics. In every community all around the country, schools are selected to march in the Independence Day celebrations.They wear their best pressed uniforms, gloves, images of national pride and stern faces.The students practice for weeks before hand and compete for prizes and prestige.From the smallest of nursery school students to the police and army cadets, all are invited to participate.
Women move through the crowd selling water, candy, fruit balls (similar to donuts but without the hole), frozen juice, ice cream and many more treats.Due to the heat the marching starts before 8 am and is finished around 10.Early arrivals will get a coveted plastic chair under a canopy and officials have a large bandstand area on one side of the open stadium.Most of us are crowded around the perimeter being pushed from behind or if you are luck sitting on the ground at the edge of the rectangular route of the continual marches.Babies were even passed forward to sit on the laps of strangers who got the best seats in the front.
School children have the day off school so they are present by the hundreds cheering on their selected classmates as they march. A fun morning for all but I do miss the fireworks of Canada Day.
Inservice Training in the Upper West of Ghana takes on two different faces.In one kind, teachers demonstrate lessons with a small group of students from their class, usually around 16 students, for all the teachers in the division.In this model the teachers see how a teacher at a different level tackles content material in subject areas they select at the beginning of the year.In addition to the content, the teacher giving the workshop can demonstrate teaching strategies, learning planning, active student participation and evaluation techniques.In theory these should be beneficial but often fail to demonstrate new or innovative techniques or strategies.In addition, topics of interest to P5 might be little interest to P1.
I had the opportunity to conduct a staff only INSET on a broader topic that was more pedagogy but still included homemade learning resources and active learning techniques.Due to scheduling conflicts and teacher illness, only 8 of the 14 teachers were able to attend but they were involved and asked great questions.I must admit, it was not my best inservice presentation but I learned a lot about Ghanaian ways of reporting and regional supervision.Much more prescriptive than in Canada, teachers are bound by very rigid expectations about lessons that often interfere with their creative thinking and individual adaptations.This and the 60 plus pupils in every class made the dialogue in both directions very interesting.I give a more focused workshop tomorrow on Phonics which will have the teachers as the students, working with hands on materials, and the Head Teacher in the role of Circuit Supervisor evaluating me.I am expecting even more discussions and problem solving.