Saturday, September 20, 2008

“About School” By Tammi; 19 Sept, 2008

School officially started on Monday, although it's kind of hard to tell. Today is Friday. No classes have been held yet. Only about 1/6th of the students have reported to our school. High school fees are about $75/term, (there are 3 terms), and many students will not be able to afford fees until the beginning of next month. Few of the first year students know which school to report to. The Ghana Education System (G.E.S.) is just now sending out the high school entrance test results and school assignments. Most high school students in Ghana are boarders and live on the school campus. Students typically have to travel 1-2 days to reach the school where they board.

Entrance to school campus

The students who have reported to school have spent their first week cleaning, sweeping out the classrooms, and “weeding” (mowing the lawn with machetes). Our school is very typical of schools in Ghana.

Just your typical school girls

The assistant headmasters started working on the class schedule yesterday. Before the class schedule can actually be developed, however, the masters need to know how many teachers are returning, the subject(s) they teach, and how many students are coming. These items of input are still quite vague.

Chris and Assistant Headmaster/art teacher, Mr. ABC

I have been assigned to teach Information and Communications Technology (ICT) to freshman and sophomores. Today I was issued a box of chalk, 1 red pen, 1 blue pen, and a notebook to write my lesson plans in. I have a textbook which I tracked down and purchased in Accra, a photo copy of the freshman syllabus which was provided by the Peace Corps, (the sophomore syllabus has not come out yet), and some misc electronic files that I have collected from other teachers. Yep, that should pretty much ensure my teaching success.

classroom block

We have a new school computer lab! However, said lab has been under construction for nearly 2 years (as are the admin offices, boys’ dorm, girls’ dorm, new classroom block, old classroom block, and assembly hall). The construction crew is supposed to be returning to work “any day now”. There are about 20 misc disassembled computers in various states of disrepair in a dirty (infested?) store room. If the school electrician is able to install electrical outlets in one of the designated classrooms today, I will be able to start setting up and testing the functionality of the computers over the weekend. The typical class size is 40-60 students. So if we are lucky enough to get most of the computers operational then each computer will have 3-4 students trying to use it during class. Last year G.E.S. promised 40 new computers to each high school. I’m guessing that these computers will actually reach our school sometime after the missing construction crew completes the campus building projects.

New computer building under construction (complete with sheep on porch)

Our fellow teachers and staff at the school have been delightful! The atmosphere of the school is very positive and the school seems to have a fine reputation. We are sad that our headmaster/neighbor will be moving in a week or two. But apparently being transferred goes with the territory as headmasters are transferred about every 5 years. We have grown quite fond of Headmaster Daniel and his family and are hopeful that the new headmaster and family will be as likeable.

Outgoing Headmaster Daniel with wife Madam Tina


Michael Stanley said...

Wow!! Chris, you look even taller in Africa! I love the sheep on the porch. Does it come in any other colors? Seriously though, you two look great. By the looks of it, I am going to have to mail you some snacks. Any suggestions?

We miss you both back here in Iowa!!!


travelgirl said...

Tammi & Chris,
George and I were so happy to see your latest posts. Really enjoyed reading them and hearing about your adventures. We, too, are at times addicted to TV even though neither of us has cable--that we know of your feelings at discovering that you have a TV there. Best wishes and good luck at getting the computers up and running.