Friday, 8 August 2014

A Tale of Three Schools

A word from our Team Leader:

Hi everyone, it's Nat here. This week the teams have been very busily getting to grips with teaching in the schools - the feedback I have received from (and of) them has been great. I also found myself covering as a support teacher for classes 3 and 4 in Tua Sunnia School, which was very hard for me because I had a sore throat. Not great for dictation, that. However, it does make a change from the usual office work I do here and am used to do in the UK...and it made me appreciate all the energy needed to teach small children!

Next week, we have our colleagues from the Resource Centre ICS doing disability sensitisation exercises in all of our schools - which will definitively be a sight to see! We are also planning to have a day of sport on most Thursdays, so that the children will look forward to seeing their teachers again every Monday. As such, today we played around with the sports resources, and felt like kids again.

It feels like this project is taking momentum, I cannot believe it's been three weeks already!


PS - as usual, let's hear it from the teams:

'Team Tawfikiya':

Hi guys, my name is Mahama Salamatu ('Sala'). I am a national volunteer working with Bawah, Jamal, Alhassan and Ben (who is an international volunteer).

We are on the Summer School Project, working at Tawfikiya Islamic Primary School. Last Thursday, the crew arrived at the school around 10:00am. However, we couldn't begin teaching because the Municipal Chief Executive was there to commission a toilet facility to be built for the school. Instead, we had a brief chat with the students and some teachers, as well as the headmistress. We started the assessment with the students that day, but due to the commissioning we had to postpone it to continue on the following Monday.

Ben (left) and Bawah (right) working together
to teach Classes 5 and 6
On Monday 4th August, the team arrived at Tawfikiya at 9:00am. We moved into our various classes to begin work. I am taking care of Class Three (P3), which happens to be a wonderful class; the students are lovely and are always ready to learn. Bawah, who was meant to take Primary Two (P2), had to move to Primary Five (P5) because the workload on Ben (who originally had P5 and 6) was too much; the pupil's turnout was close to 60! So Jamal, who was to take just Primary One (P1), combined both 1 and 2,
since their turnout was not as overwhelming as Ben's. Alhassan taught Class Four (P4) and he finds his class interesting. He is content with the class size and manages it well.

In the afternoon, the team returned to the office and interacted with the rest of the other volunteers, who had also returned from their schools. We talked about our experiences, as well as materials that would be needed for effective teaching and learning.

On Tuesday, we left for our school again full of smiles and ready to carry out our duties. We had an intern from 'Create Change' who assisted Jamal by taking on Class One; it was a great help as the turnout for those classes had increased! Teaching and learning went on well in our various classes and we all enjoyed our sessions. The school closed at 1.00pm.

Pupils of Tawfikiya during a literacy lesson
The next day the usual took place; we moved to our school in the morning and started work. We had a range of activities carried out in our classes and it was fun. I had an intern from 'Create Change' and she helped me in my class. We all had interesting and entertaining lessons. Back at the office, 'Team Fundraising' (led by Pooja) engaged and lectured us on issues such as poverty, good governance and human rights. It was educational, informative and entertaining. We all learned new things. The other two teams will do their presentations later about their chosen topics.

Two gentlemen from Kesmi FM came to Tawfikiya on Thursday. They wanted to do a piece on our Summer School Literacy Project. They interviewed Ben for five minutes, asking questions about the work we are doing, the importance of education upon children and the wider community, and what Ben believed the government could do to improve the education system in Ghana. After that, they interviewed Osman and Azara, two children in Ben's class. We hope that they will bring positive publicity to the programme and the work that we are doing.

As for the actual work we did that day - teaching and learning began in the morning, followed by football matches in the afternoon. Classes 1 and 2 took over the pitch first, playing against each other. They enjoyed every bit of it! Classes 3 and 4 were next on the list and they played well against each other. The final and last match was between Classes 5 and 6, which was also enjoyable. Whilst a team was on the pitch playing, teaching and learning was continuing in other classes to keep the students busy with their time. We again closed at 1:00pm and moved back to the office for lesson planning.

'Testing' the parachute!
On Friday, we received all of the resources we had ordered for the schools; educational posters, crayons, coloured card, exercise books, maps, flash cards, books of nursery rhymes, red pens for marking, chalk, educational games and metre rulers. Furthermore, there were some other useful resources in the office that we have access to; play dough, two parachutes, some space hoppers, Frisbees and a variety of balls.

'Testing' the Frisbees!
We will use these on Thursdays when we will hold 'Sports Days' to keep the children interested. So obviously we decided it would be important to take them outside and 'test' them. Us the national volunteers had never played with Frisbees and parachutes before. It was fun, interesting, enjoyable, but also very useful to be able to learn how to use them with the children.

We are very much looking forward to going back to Tawfikiya next week!

'Team Ticheli':

Hi guys,

I'm called Alhassan Toyibu Damba. I am a national volunteer. I work with Sowa, Fatima and Jade, and we work at Ticheli E/A Primary School. It is a rural school with three classrooms, a small office at the end of the classroom block, and also a library, which was built by Create Change for the students. We are there to help the students to bridge the gap between rural and urban education.

It was Thursday the 31st of July (2014) when we first embarked on our journey to Ticheli. We arrived there late due to the reasons outlined in the last blog post, and also because we got lost on the way to the community! When we finally arrived at 11.30am (an hour and a half late!) and met with a volunteer from Create Change, Kate. She introduced us to the students who were very happy to see us in their school. Fatima is taking Classes 1 and 2, I am taking Class 3, Sowa Class 4, and Jade Classes 5 and 6.

A literacy lesson with Classes 5 and 6
Once the students were settled we gave them their assessment papers, which we had designed to be differentiated according to which class each student was in. We will assess them again at the end of the project to measure their improvement. After the assessment we had a play with the children outside the school to try to get to know them better. We played many different games, including 'Kuraya Kuraya'. This is a game where all the players sit in a circle and each has a stone. They pass their stone to the person on their right and then pick up the stone that has been passed to them on their left. The movement gets faster and faster until one player has a build up of stones on their left and is out of the game.

A game of 'Kuraya Kuraya'
The people at Create Change had told us that on some days we would go to the school and find no children there. At first we didn't believe them, but now we know it to be true. On Tuesday this week, we arrived at the school to find that hardly any of the students were there. It so happens that there was a naming ceremony in one of the homes in the community, and that as a result, none of the parents had told their children to come to school that day. It was a great challenge for us!

Damba's very small class (Class 3) on Tuesday
Another challenge we faced was this Wednesday when we found that the classrooms had been left unlocked overnight. The local livestock from the village had gotten into the classrooms and there was goat 'poo' everywhere, even on the desks! The children had obviously experienced this before, because they knew exactly what to do; they used leafy branches to sweep, as well as small kettles to pour water and then scrub the floors and desks. At least it was an interesting start to the day!

Some of the students of Ticheli Primary School
Lastly, we have heard of a boy within the community who doesn't want to know anything about education; anytime he sees a teacher coming he runs into the bush and hides. I asked his mother about it, but unfortunately all she said is that it is his life and his decision. I hope that we will get the chance to offer our help to that boy.

Overall, despite the challenges, we are really enjoying working as a team there at the school and look forward to the coming weeks.

'Team Tua Sunnia'


Education is a key to development (holistically) as is often said by most scholars and educationists. In most African communities education is still a challenge; Tua Sunnia (a sub community under Tamale metropolitan assembly in the Northern Region of Ghana) is not an exception. The difference between this community and others is that parents and pupils have the zeal and willingness to take advantage of education, However, their situation is somewhat trying, which makes education very challenging for them.

Team 'Tua Sunnia' is formed of Pooja Khatri , an international volunteer from the UK, together with in country-volunteers Iddi 'Ishaw' Mohammed,  Fuseini  Zarouk and Abdulai M Hardi (that happens to be me, I prefer to be addressed as Hardi). We started out work at Tua Sunnia primary school on the 31st of July 2014. This is part of our routine schedule within the Summer School project of the International Citizen Service,  helping to give quality education to the less endowed communities like Tua.

Upon on arrival the headmaster and a few other teaching staff received our team and welcomed us to the school. The team went around the school assessing the classrooms, and later moved into our respective classes; with Pooja taking Primary 5 and 6, Ishaw taking Class 3 and 4 and Zarouk Class 2. I myself took Class 1 and Kindergarten. A friendly introduction and interaction between pupils and our team was first and foremost carried out, followed by exams to assess the level of their previous knowledge. However, my pupils were not able to be assessed as there were insufficient resources available; the number of students had shot up by 100% more than expected!  Pupils came with their siblings and other children from the community, and parents also brought their children from different schools. They came because they all have a desire of acquiring education, but this made controlling the class very difficult!

Lessons began on Monday with the exception of my classes, which took their turn of assessment. Meanwhile, Class 5 and 6 impressed Pooja with their level of knowledge – despite a remaining disparity between the best and worst performing students. Nevertheless, after assessment Pooja went through the spellings of the days of the week/months of the year, and did some phonetics with the class. According to Ishaw, initially learning was a bit difficult for his class. But, by the end of the day, and up until Friday, students were showing better understanding, which made teaching more enjoyable for him. It was different for Zarouk, who had to repeat his lessons throughout the week in order for the children to catch up; it was really challenging for him!

After assessment and teaching, students with the highest and lowest grades were identified to make teaching and learning effective for  both categories of students. Those with low grades were also identified for guidance and counselling. I led the process of counselling, and found it necessary to speak to parents of the children in the community to make them aware of the importance of education. Rahinatu of Class 4 was identified by Ishaw as one of the weak ones. During a counselling session with her it was discovered that she is from a broken home; her mother re-married a different man and now lives with him. Also, the father lives in the Ashanti Region, leaving her with her grandmother, who is a very busy woman at her trading place. She also lives with her grandfather, who is an alcoholic and has no time for her. Overall, her situation makes learning impossible as she lacks support and parental guidance.

Children from the Tua community have many hopes and dreams, and are willing to take advantage of education. But their hopes and bright futures can be thwarted if proper parental guidance and counselling are not given to these children. The guidance and counselling team will report more of such cases in the school and the community in our next blog. Stay blessed!

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