Thursday, 26 October 2017

Youth Alive Workshops


Youth Alive Educational Workshops for Professionals and Students in Navrongo.

Currently, Youth Alive is conducting a three month project funded by the UK International Children’s Trust to focus on building Youth Confidence and improving the educational experience and support within the Navrongo communities. As part of these objectives a three day training programme had been organised for teachers and peer educators to attend relating to Active Learning, Finance and a Peer Educator workshop. As a newly qualified primary school teacher I was intrigued to participate in the workshops to develop my own knowledge and to learn more about the education system in a developing country.

The Workshops

Day 1 – Active Learning:

The conference aimed to highlight the importance of Active Learning to the teachers of Junior and Senior High Schools in Navrongo, Northern Ghana. The concept of Active Learning seems to be relatively new in Ghana, and the session was able to educate those involved on the benefits children can have from taking a more responsible role in their own learning, moving educators away from traditional teaching styles. 

Photo Credit: Katey Forster
The session was engaging and fun as it incorporated Active Learning, with teachers participating in group discussions and activities that would encourage them to think beyond what they had been directly told by the speaker. I found this a very powerful method to use as the teachers will then be able to appreciate the importance of Active Learning for themselves.

Similar to the UK, the teachers were challenged to think outside the box for creative ways children could be more involved in their learning. The ideas that were presented by the teachers include:
  • ·         Group Discussions
  • ·         Class Games (an example was played during the session with some of the teachers)
  • ·         Learning by teaching
  • ·         Whole Class discussion
  • ·         Think, Pair, Share
  • ·         Student Debates
  • ·         Video/Input Response (questions/feedback)
Photo Credit: Katey Forster
It was really engaging as a spectator to see how the teachers were responding to the information given regarding Active Learning. It can be challenging as a teacher to be told that what you are currently doing in your own classroom may not be the best approach to use, but the teachers all took on board the new learning method.

The feedback that the teachers were able to give towards the end of the session was fitting to the content. They were confident to ask questions to their colleagues, encouraged each other to expand on ideas respectfully and overall seemed to have a really enjoyable time.

Day 2 – Finance and Accounting:

The aim of this session was to discuss how funds are received and how finance records are kept and monitored in schools. The session was delivered by Mr Alhassan Bibarajie, who began by asking the teachers to group off and make a list of ways the funds are distributed and monitored effectively. He walked around the groups, contributing to their ideas and challenging why they think it may be done this way. The groups mainly focussed on ways that funds are monitored such as: cash analysis books; invoices/receipts; logbooks; inventories; and class attendance records.
Photo Credit: Cameron Johnson

As a NQT in the UK I feel that I am unable to compare the ways in which funds are distributed in
British schools. From what I know, I believe the local councils take into account the location of the school (whether it is in a deprived area or not) and how likely the parents are to contribute financially – this excludes private schools – and distribute funds from their findings.

Before any money is spent, a meeting is set up with parents, staff and members of the community to discuss the needs of the school. It’s reassuring to know that parents and members of the community here in Navrongo, are able to have an input on how the money is spent, meaning that hopefully money is not wasted on items deemed unnecessary.

After the discussion, Mr Alhassan highlighted what you would expect to see in a sample cash book. The remainder of the session was then based around educating the professionals about cash books.
It was refreshing to watch the teachers work on the activities so well – staying focussed on the task at hand. They were eager to learn and expand their knowledge further. Nobody worked negatively and peer educating between the teachers was very inspiring. Even as an outsider, if I wasn’t understanding something they were being told, they were happy to explain it to me – one gentleman took the time to write down information I missed which he gave to me at the end of the session.  Mr Peter informed me that the teachers will be expected to teach their colleagues when they return to their individual schools.

Day 3 – Peer Educators:

This session worked with the Peer Educators of schools in Navrongo. The title of the presentation was “Youth Active workshop for students on how to study and how to use a dictionary.” delivered by Mr Albert Awe Adonnawura.

Photo Credit: Ephraim Ekow Ashun
The content of the session wasn’t exactly what I imagined but mainly focussed on teaching them how to study. I expected that the school children would be informed on the ways in which they could support their peers when it comes to school, whether that be with studying or with issues they may be facing within school, such as attendance/punctuality.

The workshop was very long and didn’t incorporate any active learning for the children, but I was later informed by Mr Peter that the original speaker had cancelled last minute and therefore they had to find a replacement on very short notice. The children were asked questions throughout the workshop to try to involve them but I felt they were too nervous to speak up and ask questions. This could have been because we were sat at the back watching, making them feel a little intimidated.

When asked “What sort of personality do you feel a peer educator needs?” the children were able to list really inspiring qualities such as:
·         Knowledgeable
·         Leading by example

·         Polite to peers
·         Respectful

·         Honest
·         Hardworking

·         Disciplined
·         Obedient to teachers

·         Confident
·         Courageous

Photo Credit: Ephraim Ekow Ashun
For the second half of the workshop, the children focussed on learning how to properly use a dictionary. The expectation is that they will pass on their knowledge to their class mates. Mr Albert explained how to use a dictionary. For example, there is a pronunciation table at the front of the book that the children can refer to which can help them practise their spoken English more.

The children were all given a dictionary each and told to find a particular word. We challenged them further by giving them another word to find. I think the children really enjoyed this part of the workshop as they turned it into a competition among their peers on who could find the word first. There was a lot of conversation generated from this activity, all around the intention of the workshop. The enjoyment and engagement from a simple activity emphasises the benefits Active Learning can have in the classroom.

As a team, we sat down with Mr Peter to feed back our thoughts on how the workshop went and it was concluded that giving the children more opportunities to be actively learning then they may have been more engaged and able to talk more confidently on how to study and how to use a dictionary.

Overall, I really enjoyed learning about the education system in Ghana. I feel there is still quite a way to go in educating teachers and children more appropriately, but it can be argued that in the UK we have still not yet mastered the education system either. There will always be room for improvement and educators will argue that particular methods are more effective than others. However, if Youth Alive can keep empowering the teachers and students in Navrongo to have a passion for education then they will continue to progress.

Photo Credit: Ephraim Ekow Ashun

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