Whether you’re thinking of starting out in teaching on your return or are simply looking for an enriching experience abroad, teaching English or other subjects in Ghana will provide you with invaluable knowledge, expertise and awareness. The uVolunteer teaching projects in Ghana require no official qualifications – all we ask for is willingness and enthusiasm to work with underprivileged children and help them improve their abilities.
Our teaching programs focus on equipping elementary schoolchildren with English language skills, sporting abilities and basic ICT knowledge, which can open the doors of opportunity to a brighter future.
When you make the decision to teach English as a volunteer in Ghana, you’ll discover just how different the education system is in Ghana compared with your experiences back home, so expect the unexpected. To ease the transition when you volunteer in Ghana, we’ve picked out some of the key differences between teaching in Ghana and the Western world, where many of our volunteers come from.
1. Children are exceptionally behaved
Both a blessing and a surprise, schoolchildren in Ghana are exceptionally well-behaved and polite. Depending on where you’re from, your own experiences of youngsters aged between five and 12 may vary significantly! What you’ll find when you volunteer to teach in Ghana is that the pupils are respectful and follow instruction without question, meaning you can devote all your efforts to planning and delivering meaningful lessons as opposed to dealing with unruly behavior.
Nobody knows why Ghanaian children are so well-behaved but there are numerous factors at play, including the general societal emphasis on peace, respect for elders and authority, and old school English discipline, learnt from many years as a colony. Also, most Ghanaian schoolchildren come from farming backgrounds and have an organized routine, including a number of tasks they have to complete each day; this helps children become responsible at an early age and contributes towards the development of organizational skills and awareness.
2. Corporal punishment is still practiced
Another surprising element of teaching in Ghana is that tutors can administer corporal punishment to students. Although the teachers’ code of conduct advises against using physical methods of punishment, it’s up to teachers in much of the country to make the decision for themselves. Caning is still commonplace, although it has been banned in the Greater Accra region.
Caning is still a practiced in Ghana to deal with badly-behaved children, lateness and even for answering incorrectly in class, and the mode of punishment is culturally accepted and lawful in most schools and households. Where you’re from, however, caning may have been banned decades ago, so it can be very difficult to witness in the classroom. At these times, you should practice diplomacy; as an observer and guest in the school, it is not appropriate to pass comment directly within the setting but you are free to inform your volunteer coordinator of your opinion and observations.
3. Most schools have no electricity
Ghana is a developing country and, as such, you’ll encounter a lack of basic utilities and amenities you might not even notice back home, including electricity in schools, when you volunteer abroad. Especially within rural areas, schools tend not to have an electricity supply – in fact, thousands of educational establishments have no power, so teachers are tasked with creating lessons that don’t require lots of technological resources like power point projectors or electronic whiteboards.
Some high schools have power for their computer labs and you may be placed teaching ICT classes where you’ll demonstrate your computer skills but you’re unlikely to have this luxury if you’re teaching English, sports or other subjects.
4. Not all subjects have teachers
Ghana is lacking in the resources many of us take for granted in the developed world and for poor, rural schools, this often means not having a dedicated teacher for each subject. Many schools outside the main urban areas simply don’t have access to enough funding and cannot afford to employ a teacher for every subject, so tutors will often teach a number of subjects, even if the themes are outside their areas of expertise.
Traditional subjects are prioritized in Ghana so physical education often falls by the wayside in terms of having a dedicated teacher and imaginative classes. Lessons are often limited by a lack of resources and specific teaching skills, so volunteers with experience of different sports are welcomed warmly by staff and pupils alike.
5. School starts early
In countries around the world, the school day often starts between 8am and 9am local time, and some even later. In Ghana, however, the school day often begins between 7am and 7.30am, when lessons start. If you think about your own schooldays, you probably got up with an hour or so to spare and focused on getting yourself ready for school and making your way to class; in Ghana, most children rise at about 4am and complete a tasks such as fetching water, preparing food or cleaning the house for the family before they can start preparing themselves for school.
Most children walk or cycle to school, attend lessons and stay after classes for extra classes in English, football or ICT, while others have to hurry home to help out with food preparation, cleaning, work or water retrieval.
Life in Ghana is new and exciting when you volunteer abroad but there will be noticeable differences between your home life and this authentic African adventure. It’s important to recognize and respect the cultural variations while making a difference.
Teaching elementary school pupils is a worthwhile cause, enabling you to pass on your knowledge and skills to disadvantaged children and improve their prospects. In turn, you’ll benefit immeasurably from experiencing a new culture and way of life, working with children who need and value your support for a mutually beneficial experience you’ll treasure forever. Find out more about teaching English, sports or ICT in Ghana by downloading the program brochure.