by Nate Nido
Working at Louis Marie and having short glimpses of the many other schools in Ghana have helped me develop an idea of how the Ghanaian school system operates. While I think they are decent, there is so much room for improvement. For example, in my class, and virtually every other class at Louis Marie, there is a lack of discipline from the students and even the faculty. The teachers are very lax with their teaching, and they often leave their classrooms unattended. When they are teaching, they usually have attention of the students. However, it seems like some teachers play it by ear. I do not know how they plan for their classes and what to teach, so that will be something I will be looking for in the future. It would be important to note that when I am asked to teach, they do not ask me in advance. As a result, I have to improvise. Even while in the classroom, the teachers are often on their phones, and on occasion, napping. The students themselves are also lacking in discipline, but much more so in comparison to their teachers. Even with stern talks, hitting, and other forms of discipline, the children continue to be disruptive and disengaged. They run through the halls, get up and walk around with no permission, talk incessantly, and sometimes climb on top of their desks just because. Besides the lack of discipline throughout the school, the faculty also does not communicate well. There were a lot of instances of misunderstanding due to a lack of communication between us, the volunteers, and the headmaster. Some teachers even engage in unprofessional behavior, such as flirting with others. I have not yet formed an idea of what causes all of this, but I plan to have at least a small one by the end of it all.
Physically, the schools themselves do not look sound. Most of the school buildings I have seen are broken, worn down, or just not finished. In addition, the students in my class are always running out of pencils or other supplies. The supplies, tools, and other items that the school have are not ideal or not fully functional. For a private school like Louis Marie, I was surprised by their lack of infrastructure. However, I lack the knowledge that the staff managing the school and its money have. Therefore, I cannot say whether or not school funds can be better used.
Lastly, the school system does not provide enough resources for students with disabilities. At Louis Marie, I do not know of a single student with a disability. Those that do have disabilities seem to be funneled to certain schools, and they are deprived of interactions with others who are not like them. For example, I have a student who seems to be behind. While this is not a disability, there is nothing being done to catch her up. As a result, I spend extra time teaching her. I think that there should be more of an effort to help students like her, or students with disabilities.
Despite all of the shortcomings of the schools, the teachers and their students find a way to make the most out of everything. They are always upbeat and happy, and the joy they exude is genuine and infectious.
For some statistics on Ghanaian education and literacy, go here. For broad information on the Ghanaian education system, go here. These may help contextualize my observations. In addition, I think this is a good read.