Let me say first:- the ‘Other’ does not need ‘saving’.
One of my pet …. concerns… is when people go to ‘Africa’ and save the ‘Other’, when they go and open schools run on an Education system from another country, churches in exchange for better livelihoods, when they impose their moral values on people they deem different because their worldviews are not the same and therefore must be ‘less’. Okay, okay … I hate it. It’s essentially destructive.
My mother always told me if you want to create change, join it and change it from within. She always meant institutions and organisations but I also think it readily applies to oneself.
People who go to Ghana and open schools run on a British system for the ‘poor’ are not helping those children. It is useless unless it’s for a concentration of expats who are transient and whose children will end up back in their country and so need a consistent curriculum. I will do the same for my children whenever we are in Ghana long-term. I have known for many years that I will home school then on the Aussie curriculum. I am a teacher so it’s easier for me to do that too. But for the children in Bolga who will remain in Bolga their entire lives, or travel around Ghana and West Africa what is the point of a British education? It smacks of colonialism and adds to Brain Drain which is a serious problem within Africa and in the end takes away from all the children who end up being left behind anyway.
The Ghana Education Service may be lacking resources etc but there are many people in places of power within the department who are attempting to create a relevant, current curriculum. Yes, there are the usual barriers to money, infrastructure, corruption but I challenge those people who set up schools to, instead, go and get a job with GES or go and work for an NGO or a branch of the UN that is working to empower the system. I saw on UNICEF’s Facebook page for Ghana that they are now teaching play-based learning in the North. How fabulous.
Change takes time and setting up programs takes time. Don’t go into Ghana with your foreign money and challenge a system that is trying to grow and support it’s people. I suggest you go and watch Hans Rosling’s TED talk using Gapminder about new insights on poverty –
I suggest you take my mother’s advice and create change, but do it from within because the ‘Other’ is a construct.
In my five and a half years living in and travelling to and from Ghana I have never once set up a charitable anything. I sat amongst my family and learnt the language, the culture. Even when I go back I will not rush to make things ‘better’. My family is happy. We could all do with more money and to give our kids a better education than we once had. My point is I am aiming to become a part of my place there before I even attempt to create change because it should be wanted, relevant, self-sustaining etc. It should NOT be a quick fix for a bunch of ‘poor’ people who deserve better as ‘we are all human, awwwww’. Umm der, of course we are!
Photo credits: (c) Asanempoka, 2007