The Primary School in Tafi Atome


While here in Ghana I have spent mostly everyday teaching in the primary school. The teacher for Class 4 has been out sick so it has been me and another volunteer in charge of the class. This was not an easy task. The first thing I realized was an issue was the language barrier. Many of the children can partially understand what I am saying but I think they have a difficult time with my accent. There have been many times when I ask the students something and they respond “yes” even when it may not be a yes or no type of question. I have been working with them on their English and last week we were attempting to learn past tense verbs. I’ve noticed they have trouble pronouncing their “w’s” and “y’s”. Another thing that I have found difficult is that it will be time to pass out their notebooks for a specific subject and many will end up not having one. I didn’t understand why some had books and others didn’t then the headmaster explained to us that they either used theirs up or didn’t have one. He also told us that meant that the student just wouldn’t do that work today. It’s hard to see some kids be left out like that because I’ve been told by Emmanuel, the grounds coordinator of Compassionate Journeys, that some families struggle to make only 1 CD a week and in the market the notebooks go for 2 CD’s and 50 pesewas. With that said many families also have multiple children so I can imagine it is a lot of money to try and support your family as well as send your children to school. I try to pass out paper to the ones who don’t have any but then the class does as normal children would and act like they don’t have theirs so that they can get paper too so we’ve had to slow down on that. The school here is nothing like what I was used to in the U.S they are disciplined however there is a lack when it comes to being structured. In the class I was in and it may just be because I was new many of the kids would just get up and walk out. I don’t know where they would go but many would just walk around and go into other classrooms. There are texts books for each level and they do a good job at sharing them with one another but an issue I have ran into is the retention of what we teach them. For example, me and another volunteer focused on the forces in science and reviewed them multiple times. They came in the next day and they were either too shy to answer or no one remembered what we had taught them. I hope while I am here I am able to help them understand and retain the information better. We have started after school tutoring classes in the library in which we alternate the grades throughout the week. We hope by spending a little extra time each day that we can make a greater impact that way. With experiencing all of this I have gained a whole new appreciation for teachers. It takes a great amount of patience and time to be able to teach and actually get across to the students and without doing any of this I don’t think I would have ever realized that.

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