When I told people I was going to spending my summer in Ghana, I got a lot of “Are you building a school?”
I’m not going to lie, in high school I thought building schools was the greatest thing ever. One of the Millennium Development Goals in Universal Primary Education, so naturally I was like, “oh, more school buildings means more kids can go to school!”
And youth were and still are being taught this. Volun-tourism has become huge for my generation and those after me. We’ve been exposed to a movement of being globally minded and we all want to do our part, and we’ve been told that that means building a school.
But I’m a little older and wiser now. I’ve come to understand that education does NOT come from infrastructure. Sure, that’s an aspect, but do you really need a building to learn? Even looking at my education in Canada: every school I went to did not have the best facilities or resources. The public system is strained. That didn’t get in the way of my learning though, no sir.
Frankly, there are school buildings everywhere in Ghana. From where I’m typing right now, there’s a College, Primary School and Junior High School in less than a kilometer radius. When I was on my Village Stay in Bongo, the community I was in had a Primary School and JHS right smack in the middle, and then another Primary, JHS, and SS down the road small.
The problem is not access to school buildings; it’s quality of education. For Ghana, the poor quality comes from the British style of teaching being copied and pasted here, combined with teacher attendance and motivation. Kids are learning “A is for Apple”, when they haven’t even seen that red shiny fruit before in their lives. That is of course, if the teacher shows up.
Here’s another thing to ponder; why send over students who probably have never picked up a shovel or mixed cement before in their lives? Why not send over construction workers with experience? Or better yet, why not contract local construction workers and promote local businesses?
My inspiration for this post came from reading this blog bya guy who has experience and deep insight into the education system in East Africa: http://www.owen.org/blog/4715