À travers des yeux d’enfant… [Session #1]

In Komoyaili, in my small community, there are ten students from the University of Development Studies. These students are conducting a research project. They will be spending two months in my rural community this summer, and another two next year. It’s nice to spend time with them and hear their perspective on the world. They are well-educated, speak fluent English, and have many opinions.
In Komoyaili there are many village children. Most, but not all, of these children go to the local primary school. They are able to learn when the teachers attend. A portion of them will go to junior high school, some will make it to senior high school, and a lucky selected few will be able to have access to post-secondary education. Some might even do a research project in a community like Komoayili. These children are curious, resourceful, and love-learning. Especially if it’s learning about how to use a slick, shiny, and outlandish camera…

Look at this wonderful kid, he's just done eating!

The University of Development Studies student shared a very interesting part of their research with me. More than 60% of the population in Komoayili is 17 years old or younger. As comparison, in Canada only 24% of the population is in the under 20 age group. Think about it. That’s a whole lot of cute, big-eyed children.
Life is hard in rural Ghana. Life is filled with physical labour, poor sanitation, and food lacking adequate nutrients. People laugh a lot in rural Ghana. People smile when they fall of their bicycles, get intercepted by a goat, or have been washing laundry by hand for three hours.
I think there might be a connection between the kids and the attitude.

Isn't that a wicked smile?

Hence, every Monday I’ll upload a few pictures of a child taken by another child over the weekend! Might as well share a pretty great source of happiness with you, and showcase the talent of these young photographers!
Bon début de semaine!

8 thoughts on “À travers des yeux d’enfant… [Session #1]

  1. Yes, it’s project time at the University of Development Studies! Several IDS students have been coming to the Assembly in Kpandai throughout the week, looking for information about their communities, and budget information for their proposals.
    The Planning Officer has mentioned that their research and proposals would be useful for the District Planning and Coordinating Unit, but few of the reports make it back to the DPCU – they’re just handed in at the university for marks. One of the things I’m thinking of looking into is trying to see if there’s a way to leverage the students’ research and analysis, and make it more useful and available for actual planning purposes. I’d be very interested in hearing about what you learn from them!

    • Hey Seth!

      I’ve talked to the students in Komoayili about the use of their reports beyond the learning experience that they go through by writing them and they mentioned that NGOs sometimes work with the University of Development Studies to use their research. Pointing at the few solar street (read: dirt path) lights in the village, one guy said that the lack of electricity might’ve been identified five years ago by the last batch of students and then picked up by an NGO. On the other hand, they don’t think that government is currently using any of their work. I also agree that there is probably a lot of useful information that could be used in planning; even simple things like their updated population census could give a better picture of the communities to people in charge. I’m pretty interested in where this will bring you, and I can ask more focused questions to the students if you have any!

      Have a great day!

      Marc-André

  2. Hey Marc, thanks for all the posts so far. The Monday child’s photos are a great idea! Children are really awesome; they see the world in such a different way. Since you bring up children and schools, I’m interested in how the education system in Ghana differs from the ones in Canada that I’m used to. When I was looking around, I found more information about building schools in Africa than I did about the schools themselves.

    With over 60% of the community being less than 17 years old, how many of them go to school frequently? Is it common to have a child go to school 5 days a week like we do Canada? It seems like more and more stop going to school as the education reaches a higher level. What are the common causes that prevent the children from continuing with school as they get older?

    I’m also interested in what the children learn in school. Do they learn subjects like English, science, geography, etc… or do they learn things about farming and other work applicable to helping their families? Should it be the former, how does their curriculum compare to schools in developed nations? Would a grade 8 student in Canada have the same education as a grade 8 student from Ghana? Do they teach at the same pace? Could you expect a student in Ghana to finish high school before 20 like many Canadians have?

    How many students can expect to get post-secondary education? For those that make it that far, do most of them go to local universities, or do they tend to go to international schools? Should it be the latter, what’s the process that students from Ghana need to take to get into an international post-secondary university?

    Thanks so much Marc!

    • Hey Kevin, thanks for reading and I’m glad you enjoyed the post!

      I’ve talked to a primary school teacher in the community (who speaks pretty decent English, which is awesome for conversation!) about some of your questions, so I’ll base most of my answers on that. I think that it’s also important to note that the situation is probably very different in the rural north of Ghana, especially in small farming communities like Komoayili, then in the more developed southern part of the country. They’re very exciting questions though, and I agree that education is pretty interesting, so let’s dive into them!

      I think that a majority of the children that have the age of primary school are attending, since there is a school right in the community. The older the kids get though; less and less of them go to school since their help is needed on the farm. The school week is from Monday to Friday, like in Canada, but school tends to end earlier in the afternoon here. Today I did an interview with a group of about 25 farmers in a neighbouring community and only four of them had completed primary school, and only one had finished Junior Secondary School (about the equivalent of grade 10).

      At the more basic education levels children do seem to be learning similar subjects to what we are learning in Canada. Dagbani (the local language), English (even though teachers mastery of the language isn’t exceptional…) and mathematics seems to make a core part of the curriculum, while geography, science, visual arts, and other similar subjects are also present. I’m not sure about the pace of learning, but I know that students can do undergraduate degrees at the end of high school, which seems to suggest that the important material has been covered. Some students tend to finish high school later than students in Canada due to many factors including the fact that school is not always a priority, but it is certainly possible to finish it in the same number of years.

      Only a handful of people from Komoayili with a population of over a thousand people have some level of post-secondary education. This is evidently lower than the average of the country, but I think representative of the rural north. From my experience, a lot of students seem to be getting a post-secondary education right here in Ghana. For example, most of the people at work have studied at engineering polytechnics or at agricultural colleges. This option is much more affordable than going overseas to study. A lot of the people dream of getting advanced degrees outside of Ghana though. Europe, and especially the Scandinavian countries, seems like the most attractive place. People also want to come to the US or Canada (possibly biased by the fact that I tell them where I’m from…?). Here the process would be the same as any international students, I believe, at least in Canada. You need recognition of your past studies and then you pay more for student fees!

      Anyways, I hope that this clarified some of your questions, and if you have more, feel free to ask!

      Oh and one more detail that you might be interested in. Like in Canada, the country subsidizes post-secondary education. Here in Ghana though, students need to do one year of “National Service” after they complete their degree. Basically the government gives them a living stipend and posts them somewhere based on the country’s need and their preferences. For example, there is a aid veterinary at MoFA doing his national service year.

      Ok ciao!

      Marc-André

  3. Hey Marc! I just got to reading your blog today and read every post. Really engrossing, you’re a great writer on an interesting and fun adventure. Glad you survived the malaria and that the mangoes are delicious.

    I don’t really have any input, just wanted to send my appreciation your way. You’ve got one more audience member watching your EWB adventure in Ghana. Keep up the good work!

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