Ghana is a vibrant, beautiful country with friendly people, stunning landscapes and unspoilt beaches.
Dancing and drumming are central to the way of life, and you are never far away from a beating drum. In the rural Volta region, the main industries are agriculture and fishing, and many children work with their parents to bring in income instead of receiving an education. We are working with our partner schools to improve their facilities and encourage more children to go to school from an early age.
Teaching and multi-sports
African Adventures works with several schools in the coastal area of the Volta region. Whilst they are government-run schools, they are severely underfunded. In some classrooms, there are not enough desks for the number of students, meaning that children must take lessons sat on the floor. There is also a significant lack of resource material, particularly text books, which can present challenges in terms of teaching. The schools are in desperate need of funding and volunteer support – this is where our partnership starts.
In Ghana, students learn by rote (rote is a learning technique based on repetition) and, therefore, do not always have underpinning knowledge. This means that lesson delivery is often less interactive than in the UK. Each classroom has a blackboard but there is generally very little other decoration. The majority of classrooms have desks for each student and each school has a uniform that students are expected to wear. Teachers are either fully or partly qualified and a syllabus is followed using a text book.
Sport is hugely popular in Ghana and an important part of daily life in many areas. Because of the heat in Ghana, most PE lessons take place early in the morning and after school. Volunteers who choose to help with sports coaching can typically expect to start with two hour-long morning sessions at 8:00am. Lessons inside the classroom will then take place, some of which are based around health, the body and the theoretical elements of sport. There will be times when lessons are not sports focused and instead concentrate on other areas of the curriculum.
Teaching volunteers work alongside teachers and other volunteers to help manage the demands of educating large classes of mixed students, aged between 5-16. Volunteers are working in a support role and will not be asked to do anything that they are not comfortable with. There are typically large class sizes in Ghana, which can present challenges because of the difference in academic ability across the student body. High-achieving students can be held back and struggling students can often get left behind. Teaching assistants can help bridge that gap because the class can be divided into smaller groups to work on more relevant topics. To support volunteers with preparing for this role, we have a Volunteer Resource Portal which is full of syllabus information, lesson planning tips and interactive session ideas. Our aim is to provide volunteers with the guidance and reassurance they need to effectively carry out the teaching assistance role.
Coaching volunteers may be tasked with supporting a teacher to deliver a PE lesson or, if comfortable and confident, will have the chance to deliver independent sports sessions. Qualifications are not necessary for this role; motivation and a can-do attitude will suffice! Football and volleyball are very popular and widely practised in Ghana. Volunteers can also introduce new sports that the children are not as familiar with and teach them new skills. The children love physical activity and are always willing to try new games and sessions – there will be no shortage of enthusiasm and energy! Our Volunteer Resource Portal has plenty of tips and ideas for sporting sessions that will be appropriate for the children. So, if you are looking for some inspiration and reassurance, check out this handy support area.
Your volunteering day
- Wake up and meet for breakfast at around 7:30am before being taken to your group’s allocated project at around 8:30am to start work. (We encourage volunteers to take plenty of water as it will be very hot and humid.)
- A typical morning session will involve assisting in the classroom with English and maths. This will involve the use of text books, writing out activities on the chalkboard and engaging students in interactive learning through singing and different activities.
- At around 10:30am, it is likely that classes will stop for morning break when there will be time for the children to have a snack and play games.
- Another lesson follows until around 12:30pm when lunchtime will commence. Volunteers also break for lunch at this time and will be brought a meal by our team.
- After lunch, it is typical to take the learning outside the classroom and get the children participating in a PE lesson. Activities may include bean bag racing, co-ordination exercises and counting games. These activities will depend on the resources available so we recommend that volunteers bring some sports equipment if they would like to deliver specific sessions.
- Afternoon activities finish at around 3:00pm, at which point volunteers are picked up and taken back to the accommodation to relax after a hard day’s work. There is the option to wind down by visiting the market or taking a trip to the beach during the afternoon.
- Dinner is served at the accommodation at around 7:00pm, following which volunteers can relax with a book, play some games or reflect on the day’s volunteering. There may also be the chance to get involved in some drumming or practise some Ewe!
Building and renovation
The schools we support in Ghana are in desperate need of improved facilities to sufficiently accommodate the growing number of students that attend. The buildings are old and tired, there are holes in the roofs, and the floors are often filled with potholes, making it difficult for teachers to deliver safe, practical lessons. Volunteer support is crucial to help provide new facilities and a more engaging environment for the students to learn in.
Why schools need support
Large investment is needed at the schools we work with because many of the buildings were built long ago, prior to independence. Many of the classrooms have leaky roofs, missing windows and old paintwork. New classrooms are needed for both space and safety reasons. Many lessons are overcrowded and the floors in the old classrooms are often extremely uneven with a large number of potholes. In addition to classrooms, providing other facilities can be a huge positive for the schools. For example, some schools are without adequate kitchen facilities and many of the schools lack any sort of security fence or wall, which is a concern in terms of the children’s safety.
In addition to needing better structures, the projects require renovation of existing buildings to make them more conducive to learning. The classroom interiors are usually tired and do not have any learning materials on the walls. Although cosmetic changes may seem a minor thing, a more vibrant classroom can completely transform a learning environment and the impact of this should not be underestimated.
Construction and renovation assistance
The work we organise is focused on improving the standards of buildings at the schools we support, particularly new classrooms, sheltered dining areas, IT suites and playgrounds. Building volunteers work in a support role and do not need any form of previous experience as all work is led by a local expert builder. Any specialist building work is reserved for those with qualifications, so no-one should worry about being out of their depth. We simply recommend that volunteers are fit and healthy enough to carry out typical activities such as painting, cement-mixing, plastering and carrying moderately heavy items.
Funding for the building work required is provided by African Adventures and African Adventures Foundation, and is organised before travel so that volunteers understand what is expected of them during their trip.
Your volunteering day
- Wake up and meet for breakfast at around 7:30am before being taken to your group’s allocated project around 8:30am to start the day’s volunteering. (We advise that volunteers take plenty of water with them as it is very hot and humid.)
- Depending on the allocated construction work, a typical morning session might include cementing bricks for a new classroom, painting existing classrooms or screeding classroom walls and floors. A friendly team of qualified builders will be on hand to help with these tasks.
- At around 10:30am, there is a morning break for the children, when they take time to have a snack and play games. Volunteers often like to take a break at this time to engage with the children.
- After 30 minutes, lessons will commence again and you building work continues for another hour or so.
- At around 12:30pm, building volunteers take a well-deserved break and are brought lunch at their project.
- In the afternoon, building and renovation activities continue until the time the school closes at around 3:00pm, at which point volunteers are taken back to the volunteer accommodation for some downtime.
- During the afternoon, there may be the option to visit the craft market or take a trip to the beach.
- Dinner will be served around 7:00pm, after which volunteers can get involved in some drumming and dancing or just relax with a book and reflect on their volunteering experience.
If you are looking to experience rural Africa, you might like to choose Ghana. You will be staying and volunteering in the Volta region, on Ghana’s south eastern coast. Volta is dominated by Lake Volta to the west and Togo to the east. The lake is a source of power and water for the region and is the water highway to the North.
Ghana is located close to the Equator and has a tropical climate. The weather in Ghana is hot and humid and the temperature is often 30 degrees Celsius or above so if you like the heat, you will be well-suited to Ghana. During April and November, southern Ghana’s rainy season, there may be short, infrequent bursts of rainfall which are pleasantly warm and refreshing.
Ghana is a vibrant and colourful country and Ghanaians are very friendly and welcoming. There is a great sense of pride within communities and relationships are very important. When meeting someone new, you will often be greeted by a handshake, like you would greet people at home. Elders are highly respected in society and it is polite to greet them with a bow in passing.
In Ghana, as a traditional gesture, it is not unusual for visitors to be greeted with dancing and drumming on their first day. So, if you choose Ghana, be prepared to have fun and immerse yourself into the relaxed atmosphere.
Ghana welcomes freedom of worship. Christianity and Islam are widely practised, as are more traditional regional faiths, influenced from family loyalties and customs.
There are 250 languages and dialects spoken in Ghana. In the Volta region, where we work, the mother tongue is Ewe and this is the language you will hear spoken within the communities you visit. School lessons are often taught in English, as this is the country’s official language. Some of the phrases you may wish to learn for visiting Ghana, include; “E foa?” (Eh-fwah) which means “How are you?”, “Akpe” (Ak-ay) meaning “thanks” and “Woe zo” (Way-zoh) which means “welcome”.
Food in Ghana is nutritious and full of flavour. Traditionally, dishes have a tomato-based sauce and are quite spicy but you will generally be served a milder version of the same meal. Some popular regional dishes are okra or palmnut soups and red-red (a pepper and bean stew). There are a variety of carbohydrates to accompany these dishes, including cassava, plantain and yam. As you will be staying so close to the sea, along the Keta Lagoon, you will have the chance to eat plenty of locally caught, fresh fish and enjoy the refreshing taste of coconut water.
The legal drinking age is 18, however being drunk is seen as shameful in Ghanaian culture so we ask volunteers to be respectful of this.
Ghana represents modern-day West Africa and has become one of the leading economic successes in recent years. However, this is not reflected in rural areas where poverty is prevalent. Our volunteers stay in a rural community where the main industries are agriculture and fishing. Many children work from a young age to help support their families and, as a result, it is common for children not to start school until the age of six or seven. Through our partnership with projects in Ghana, more children are being encouraged to start school from an early age and are staying in education longer. As a volunteer, you can help in a teaching or building role contributing to our long-term development goals.
African Adventures group trips proudly focus on volunteering and ensuring that all volunteers make a positive impact at their designated partner project.
During their journey, it’s important that volunteers also get an opportunity explore the magnificent sights and cultures of Africa. That’s why we have carefully selected a range of extraordinary adventure activities which groups can choose to add to their trip. Our adventure tours focus on culture, geography, history, adventure, wildlife and rest and relaxation. Be assured that there’s something for everyone, whatever their interest.
So, whether you’re looking for a rainforest trek in Ghana, a chance to explore the phenomenal Great Rift Valley in Kenya, or an ocean safari through the crystal-clear waters of Zanzibar, view our adventure activities brochure and explore all that Africa has to offer.
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