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School Report for 2008

By Christine de-Manuel

The visit this year was more of a fact finding mission although I did also get a few practical issues dealt with. The experiences I had were many and varied and I could write pages but will try to keep to basics! I started in Tamale at Étoile Royale Education centre. This was very different to Ko, Children at Etoile Royale Grade Schoolparents pay fees to have there children at the Creche, Nursery or school which at present takes up to Grade 5 but is expanding each year. Florence Pul is Principle and welcomed Joe, Jonathan and myself. We were shown around the centre and met with staff and children. Florence is keen to establish links with a school or schools in the UK and hopes next year to pay a visit herself. Many of the children spoke good English and it was easy to communicate with them. The standard of education was higher than in Ko - as expected - and the class sizes were smaller. Teaching methods seem quite similar with the benefit of better resources, they also have a suite of computers that are timetabled for the children to use. The head of Early Years was keen to establish the creative side of the curriculum and interested in developing 'learning through play'. I enjoyed sharing ideas with her. I have names of children to link up with my school and form pen friends. It would seem more possible to create links on an interactive basis with this school than Ko A, to establish an Ko library, before reorganising!agreement in partnership on a global basis.

Going to Tamale took a whole day journey each way so reduced the time at Ko. As expected the library we set up was not being used on a regular basis. So after I had sorted our container resources that were delivered and reorganised the library books, which were very muddled, I spent further time on training the staff and children in use of the library and how books should be used and stored. I left with hopes that this would be taken on board and maybe Ko B might use it too.

Gabriella and her teaching staff at Ko A SchoolDery and I visited the  District Director of Education for the Region ( in Lawra) to discuss the provision of teachers and how we FREED UK as a charity could support the development of Ko A school to be a model school. We left with some commitment to the provision of staff and ways forward to get electricity at the school. While in Lawra I hoped to meet up with a VSO couple who have been supporting the development of ‘model Kindergartens’ and the training of teachers to use phonics for reading but they were in Accra. However I did meet with VSO Ruth Heery who was actually involved with schools around Nandom, Ko A amongst them.( She was unaware of the library resource despite visiting the school several times.) She was able to visit the school with me and we watched some teaching of phonics. Two teachers had been on the phonics training programme at Lawra (Gabriella, the Head and her P1 teacher). We were pleased to say that they had taken the skills on board and were doing quite well!

Dery marking the maths books after his teaching session.Dery enjoyed a session of maths teaching in KoA school with P6 and we met with the teachers to discuss our hopes for the school. One of the young teachers at Ko has shown promise and we are planning to organise his training along with some incentive to come back and teach at Ko. He has at first to work a bit on his own qualifications to get into college. The Head retires next summer but we have had some reassurance of a suitable replacement from the District Education Director.

Glenda sorting toys.Time at the Kindergarten with the nursery age children was restricted. Thanks to the support of Glenda, the toys in the store cupboard were sorted out with new ones rescued from the school library (some home to a family of mice!) Sister Jan was pleased with the posters and rhymes I had taken out, I was sorry not to have time to set things out and share more with the children. We saw for the first time a play session with the toys!

Also Sister Jan thought it would be a good idea to put shelves up in the rooms for easy access to the toys, so a step forward in thinking! Kindergarten staff have finally gone on strike as they have not been paid for months! Many of the kindergartens have been closed as a result. So our visit achievements this year were:  

Dery and I also paid a visit to Nandom Secondary School to look around. Blake Fleischer, a Peace Corps worker there has been working wonders on the ICT and Science curriculum. FREED UK has provided some computers and it was interesting to see the school and its resources. In the future, Blake plans to put an extra page on our web site about the school. Watch this space!

School Project 2007

School Report by Christine de-Manuel and Jenny Howlett

Chris, Ambrose and Jenny in the new library.Freed UK. have made links with two primary schools and a nursery in the upper west region of Ghana, in a village called KO, approximately 20 minutes drive from Nandom.

The contrast between English primary schools and both KO A and B is enormous. The schools are only partially staffed by qualified teachers; volunteer teachers make up over 50% KO A classroomof the staff. Lessons rely on ‘chalk and talk’ education methods, with teachers using mainly blackboards to convey information, with minimal interaction from the children. Classes consist of numbers between 45 to 60 children, who are all seated in rows of desks, so there is no interaction between children and their peers. Classroom environments lack any stimulation or display to enhance the curriculum or show children’s work and the schools lack enough funding for general repairs and maintenance of the buildings.

Achievements so far:

Hopes for the future:

Pumping water for schoolFreed are aware of the enormity of this project in achieving all of the desired outcomes and that much funding is required. However, we feel that each small step is progress in the right direction.

Our ultimate aim (and that of the head teachers) is to improve the quality and standard of education to enable more children from both schools to go forward to secondary education. At present the number of children extending their education is very low!

To achieve this main aim, our objectives are as follows: