Sunday, 2 December 2012


I attended 2 more School Performance Appraisal Meetings last week. It is interesting how they differ. There were still no suggestions for schools to do anything different to improve education for their students. At each there was a good representation of parents and community members. They all took the gathering very seriously.

In one there was a considerable focus on the students themselves. The chair of the meeting, asked them various questions which I had translated for me. One question was, “What do you want to be when you leave school?” This is a question we don’t ask children any more at home. There is so much choice as to how someone can earn their living and how their interests and skills can be explored. Also, most young people now, will develop their lives in a number of directions through the years and not necessarily focus in one area. Careers are being developed as fast as technology can find names for roles in its new discoveries.

In Ghana here, of course, young people don’t know what they could do if they worked hard and got qualifications to spread their wings. The media doesn't come this far in terms of what is happening and available further out in the world. They know what they can see. So the responses to the question of career prospects were ……… nurse, teacher, seamstress etc.

The other issue that is hard to overcome is, how to talk to parents about their aspirations for their children when the parents have no idea what is possible and they are illiterate themselves. I look at people sitting in these meetings and wonder what they are thinking. They are, predominantly, farmers earning just enough to live on day to day, if they are lucky. They may be perfectly happy surrounded by their family and managing through the seasons. I am not sure whether they want their children to be too successful. They would leave home and move south. Many people here haven’t been further than Wa, ever! The rest of the world, if they can imagine it, is a scary, unknown place. They may fear for their lives and not be at all convinced that if the young people leave, they will return.

Of course, many young people travel south to look for money making opportunities, some being immoral. They all want to have money and understandably, getting money is far more important than finding something that gives you interest and further opportunities to learn and contribute to your country and its citizens. Over time and generations, there should be more evidence of the youth of Ghana being able to choose how they spend their adulthood purposefully and with enjoyment for the work itself. More work opportunities may also encourage them to study as they will see a purpose for it.

The Basic Education Certificate Exam results maybe woefully poor, but the sun still shines and if it rains at the right time we will all be able to eat. Nationally, improving education is seen to be a major issue and it is talked about in the Upper West. However, realistically, day to day in Nadowli, we are just “managing”!

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