Education is a hot topic these days, especially here in Ontario as Bill 115 continues to have ripple effects felt by teachers and students alike. With education on my mind, I can’t help but think of my recent trip to Sang and the barriers to education that many children in northern Ghana face.
“The government is supposed to supply textbooks to teachers, to help structure what children are learning at different levels, but we have never received textbooks from the government. It is through the work of CFTC and RAINS that our school receives the school supplies we need to be able to teach,” said Safia Musah, a volunteer teacher in the community of Kpachelo, just outside of Tamale. The community of Sang is no different, with CFTC and RAINS supplying necessary school supplies, textbooks and training for volunteer teachers.
School books in short supply is just one of the problems Sang’s schoolchildren – like many throughout northern Ghana – face. It is not uncommon for schools to set up classrooms outdoors, under a tree or sometimes unprotected beside regular school blocks to accommodate the overflow of children who wish to attend.
Despite two well-equipped school blocks in Sang, pre-school students must sit outside to learn each day under the shade of a large tree at the bottom of the school yard. Each morning the children carry their shared desks outside, along with a chalk board. The chalk board is set up closest to the trunk, and the children fan their desks out around the base of the trunk.
Learning outside means that children have minimal protection from the heat and sun, which on average is in the high 20s/low 30s C (approximately 90 degrees F) in the summer months of December through April. During the single rainy season, children lose hours of lessons because they have nowhere to take shelter from the rain.
Despite these challenges, not all is bleak. Access to education for children is strongly supported by community members in northern Ghana, a message I consistently received from community members. People in Sang feel great pride in the strides their community has made in the past ten years to better equip and refurbish facilities for students while providing them with the necessary supplies, textbooks and qualified teachers they need to succeed.
Forty-two-year-old Ayi Mustafa, who was born and raised in Sang, said it best when she said, “I did not attend school, because it was not a priority at that time. But I believe strongly in sending my own children to school. I know they will have a brighter future because of this. I have three boys and three girls, and they are all enrolled in school at this time.”
If you would like to send any words of encouragement to the parents of Ghana in their efforts to educate their children, be sure to drop a comment in the box below!