Blog Of A Visit to Ghana – Part 3: The Results

In Part 2 of my blog series, I shared the outlines of the projects that I took out to our partner school in Ghana last week. After 5 days working in the school and with an excellent level of support from the staff there, I came away with some fantastic work to share with my students and staff here in the UK.

Here are some examples:

English: Students in Ghana had chosen poems about Africa from an anthology, memorised them and then performed them with a carefully chosen backdrop and in appropriate costume. Here are two examples:

Art: Some examples of work that students in Ghana produced.

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Business: Powerpoint presentations with business plans were produced and have been brought back for analysis by UK students.

Music: Interviews about percussion and demonstrations of their use have been recorded. The choir were videoed singing both the Ghanaian National Anthem as well as the School Anthem (see below)

Geography: Students in Ghana produced work detailing their ‘Fantastic Places in Ghana.

The aim is now for our students in the UK to respond to these project outcomes and for dialogue to start between our two schools. We are looking at the use of shared areas on Google Classroom and Google Drive to assist us with this.

To come – Part 4: The Partnership

 

Blog Of A Visit to Ghana – Part 2: The Projects

As you saw from Part 1, one of my key aims for this visit was to engage students in cross-cultural projects. To this end, I asked subject heads at my school to put together projects for me to take out with me to Ghana, which I could then ask students to work on for the week of my visit and then collect and bring home to share with students in the UK.

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Here are the outlines of the projects that I was armed with:

Performing Arts: Record a video of the choir singing the Ghanaian National Anthem which we can show at our School Summer Concert.

English: Write a poem about your school or about Ghana. Think about your choice of language, similes, metaphors, adjectives and the type of poem you wish to write e.g. sonnet, acrostic, haiku, free verse. You may wish to create your own anthology.

Dance: Choreograph and perform your own cultural dance which you can then video to teach pupils at Preston School. Film your dance all the way through with music and then again, but this time as though you are teaching it to someone step by step. Students at Preston School will then learn the dance and we will send a recording of the dance you have taught us back to you.

Music: Discuss on video how important rhythm and percussion are to you. What types of percussion instrument do you use? Are there percussion instruments other than drums that you use? Can you demonstrate them for us?

Art: Produce a piece of art work which captures your feelings about one of these areas: 1) our partnership, 2) the UK, 3) Ghana. (I may have to take photos of these rather than try to bring them all back to the UK with me!)

Languages: Produce a Twi phrase book with all the essential Twi phrases that you think we should learn. Produce a video guide for us and again, we will send you back a video of our students showing what they have learned.

Enterprise Challenge: Create a business / marketing presentation for a product of your choice (I will bring lots of help sheets for this)

Geography: Students at Preston have made a leaflet or brochure style page about a ‘Fantastic Place’ in the UK. I will bring these examples to Ghana for Sinai students to reply to them or make their own example about places in Ghana.

Science: ILA – My Gym. A multi-phase project based around creating a brand, marketing, designing a fitness plan and health and safety / first aid awareness

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Clearly, the success of theses projects would depend heavily on staff support in Ghana. I was fortunate that a wide range of staff (with the support of key partnership advocates on the staff and SLT) helped to see these through.

To come in part 3: The results

 

Blog Of A Visit to Ghana – Part 1: The Journey

My third visit to Ghana was very different to the first in 2011 and the second in 2013 (reflections here)

The reason? No students to share the experience.

However, that was not to say that there was not plenty to do.

Having had a partnership with our school in Ghana for more than 6 years, we have achieved a lot on our partnership journey so far. We took students to Ghana 2 years ago and have hosted Ghanaian teachers from the school in the UK. The one area that has been lacking though, is student-to-student communication and collaboration. This was one of the areas I wished to address on my visit this time.

Here were the overall aims:

1) To cement a good relationship with the new head teacher
2) To initiate and oversee a range of curriculum based projects which originated from our staff and students and to bring back responses from Ghanaian staff and students which would hopefully lead to much collaboration in the future.
3) To learn more about the Twi language and culture, which can then be disseminated through a range of assemblies and Ghana group meetings on my return.

So, that was my starting point.

Fancy a little Ghana experience?

Well, join me in the video below as I make the journey to school from my guest house in Akropong-Akuapem, Eastern Region.

To come in Part 2: The Projects

Out Of Africa Again – Reflections on my visit to Ghana – February 2015

Note: This was written last Thursday evening in a hotel in Ghana in darkness (thanks to a power cut). Another blog entry will deal with the purpose of my visit. The following entry deals with what was on my mind at the time.

I am the ‘abruni’, the ‘white man from far overseas’, the fish out of water, the ancestor of one-time colonial masters …

This is my third visit to Ghana. I feel that during the time that I have spent in this enchanting country, I have got to know the people, the culture and the language to a much greater extent. Yet, there have still been occasions on this visit when I have been overwhelmingly convinced that I have barely begun to understand this land of complexity and contradiction.

In the morning of one day, I see students completing mock Mathematics examinations in the medium of English (a second or third language in addition to their mother tongue) which appear to include equations surely known only to Einstein and his ilk.

School dormitory: triple bunks packed into what used to be a classroom

School dormitory: triple bunks packed into what used to be a classroom

Yet these are the same students who sleep 48 to a room, who wake at 3.30 a.m. every school morning to clean the student showers and toilets and sweep the grounds with primitive brushes, who study in classes of at least 60 in temperatures of over 30 degrees, who snake across the school grounds, adroitly carrying buckets filled to the brim with water on their heads to wash their uniform for the week ahead. In the afternoon of this same day, I see at first hand the communities where some of these students come from: simple clay buildings, often in the grounds of semi derelict or incomplete buildings that once were dream projects, but are now concrete shells. There is so much of potential here, so many young futures that promise so much.

Bright future: Meeting the student prefect team

Bright future: Meeting the student prefect team

Yes, in so many ways this is a land of positivity, but daily life is lived against a backdrop of adversity and harshness. The climate is oppressive and the basic infrastructure is fragile, as the recent years of power cuts have demonstrated. Yet, the people (on the surface at least) adopt a resilient, communal response. They just get on with it.

And this is not where the contadictions end. The people are as attached to their smartphones as anywhere else in the world, yet the cars they drive are often unroadworthy, dented and relentlessly punished by the Ghanaian roads which are often seemingly no more than a complex network of yawning potholes interspersed with ribbons of tarmac.

The vast majority of the people here are multilingual, yet I write this in darkness as we suffer another power cut, one in a series of power outages that has peppered the last three years across the entire country.

Ghana is an assault on the senses. (I’ve decided that Africa has an aroma all of its own, which I have termed earthy musk) It is also an assault on your sense of perspective. Contradictions live side by side, seemingly mutually coexisting fully aware of the other and willing to nod to each other every morning.

I sat in a speeding car this afternoon that swerved across the road to avoid potholes, as I listened to my four Ghanaian companions singing and tapping along to Phil Collins singing ‘Another Day in Paradise’. The backdrop to this was a typical Ghanaian scene of young boys playing football with goals formed from sagging bamboo poles, women of the village washing clothes and pounding fufu by the roadside and men sat next to makeshift stalls of bananas. Students who arrive to school in clean, well pressed uniform walk past their pre school counterparts who sit in the earth surrounded by wandering poultry and stray dogs.

As I return to the UK, the line ‘Think twice. It’s just another day for you and me in paradise’ has never cried out with as much ferocity before.