Monday, January 13, 2014

La Enobal School and AwaaWaa2

We went to La Enobal public school today where I met all the kids in junior school (before high school) and got to interact with them. I am unclear about the cost of school, as I have heard different things. A couple of the girls told me that you bring 2 cedis to school (appx. 1USD) and for some it is too much because 1 goes to class and 1 goes to food. The gap between classes is so great—some people have enough money and they wear beautiful custom made clothing and attend school to get a good education so they can get a good job while others are struggling just to get enough money to eat—living in the market or a small village. I think that it is only the privileged that have a chance of making it, and having a better future than those that are not. For those who have to support their family they must work and earn money… instead of continuing their education.
 It seems to me that maybe we are not getting ALL of the facts from the more elite members of the community. Both the students I spoke too and others that are less fortunate in the community have said that while the government says that you do not have to pay for school that it is not actually the case. I know that high school is not free like junior school is, but I cannot seem to get an answer about how much it costs. I think one of the girls I spoke to Melissa at the school said that not everyone can afford high school and so they either do not go or they work and come back hopefully.
The students are all so driven. It is amazing to see all of the kids understanding the importance of education here. That seems to be a common theme that I hardly see in the USA. The children want to better themselves and they dream big---- doctors, accountants, pilots, teachers, nurses and architects—that is what the kids I spoke to want to be when they grow up. They work hard and they are so polite and respectful. The Ghanaian culture is one of immense respect, especially for their elders. We were welcomed with children running up to us, touching my skin and my hair we are so foreign to them and they open their arms and their hearts to us. I hope that the government will continue to help the children in Ghana get an education although I know there are so, so many kids and not enough teachers. But they are ostracized when they can not go and only the strong ones return—this is also the case about the test that they must pass in order to move forward and attend high school.
            The students I met today have such big dreams and aspirations—one wanted to be a pilot, 2 a teacher, 2 a nurse, 1 an accountant and 1 an architect. I spoke with mostly girls and I was surprised at their answers as I thought that most girls will be teachers or nurses here--- I think that is true but the girls want to break that norm and its amazing.

***A bit of history about the education system in Ghana, which for a long time enforced the British Education system. The EDUCATION REFORM PROGRAM—was initiated in 1987/1988. School used to be 17 years and it was reduced to 12 (like the USA). There was introduction of pre-vocational training and general skill training to equip graduates of basic and secondary levels for gainful employment.

The trajectory:

-3 year lower primary (1-3)
-3 year upper primary
-4 year middle school
-Graduates could enter nursing training

Secondary- 5-year general certification of education, ordinary level graduates could enter the world of work
-       2 year sixth form- GCE ADVANCED LEVEL

=ELEMENTARY- languages, maths, hygiene, Physical Education, history, geography, civic education
=SECONDARY- Addition of French, economics, government, home science, physics, chemistry, biology, agricultural science, literature, art.

The current trajectory

*Basic Education
-6 years primary
-3 years junior high
*Secondary Education
3 (4) years Senior high school
*University Education
-4 years

We also went to AwaaWaa2 which is an early intervention center for Children with Speech and Language Difficulties. AwaaWaa2 is a registered charity and has been in operation since 2004. It runs on donations and was opened by a woman who has a 10 year old autistic child. While the donations do come in, there is certainly not enough and in my opinion I could feel the lack of resources and the stress of running the program from the group up

There is a need for more supplies and services for the center, particularily bubbles we were told...The center provides services for about 25 kids age 3-12 and does not have funding so much of the staff is volunteer based. Being there I felt tired- I felt that the kids needed more structure and resources and that music art and dance therapy could be very helpful although we did not get to see a full day so it is hard to assess what a typical day is like. I do think that maybe it was at this school, or at New Horizons that music therapy was mentioned as being something that was desired, so that made me happy. It is inspiring that there are individuals working to get the needs of the kids met, but there is an unbelievably long way to go. Being that I have worked in an early intervention center, I know that you need a LOT of support.. it is difficult and exhausting so I respect the work that is happening and I know it starts with one voice but I felt discouraged. 

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