Teaching Scholar Visits Ghana

Written by Piper Burton: Teaching Scholar

President: Education ClubVice President: Math ClucMajor: Elementary EducationMinor: Math and BiologyCampbell University Swim Team

As a Campbell University Teaching Scholar, I traveled abroad to Ghana, West Africa, with my advisor Dr. Terrie Hampton-Jones. We joined Dr. Peter Ahiawodiz and the Campbell University Public Health team. We donated school supplies, curriculum materials, technology devices, and t-shirts. On the education side, our goal was to explore the educational systems within grades K-6.


The education system in Ghana is interesting because the teachers use similar teaching techniques that are also used in the United States. You couldn’t tell the teacher apart from where they were licensed (USA or Ghana). In the Akatsi community I visited, the teachers teach without technology and are as effective and arguably more efficient due to their need to teach bilingually. I observed 1st grade, 2nd grade, and some of 3rd grade being taught.


The students were very responsive to their teachers and highly engaged with the same kid energy of students here in the USA. I liked how their daily schedule is set up; two hours of studying and 30-minute breaks to get food or socialize.  This pattern is repeated from 8:00 am to 3:00 pm, and each subject receives one hour of focus. The purpose is to allow the students to get some of their energy out and stretch their legs while giving their minds a break. Each day of the week may vary slightly between the more elective subjects, like some of our schools in the U.S.

Another interesting factor was their adaptations during Covid-19.  This was remarkable.  Due to limited Internet and broadband, the schools used their local television stations to broadcast lessons.  Students were able to stay caught up with daily lesson programming via cable.  There was also tutoring available through television during specific times of the day for every grade level.


Undoubtedly, students’ perseverance and hard work are noticeable in elementary school.  As part of their school day, traditionally, the students clean their school every morning as an act of discipline, respect, and care for their education.
The culture of the people is reflected in the classrooms by both the teachers and the students. I gleaned from my experience that discipline, hard work, politeness, and respect are core values of the Ghanaian communities. The culture was cheerful, with bright fabrics and foods rich in color. I couldn’t help but laugh a little when the students would respond with a “please, no” to a teacher’s question. “Please” is at the beginning of almost every sentence when speaking with a Ghanaian. The students call the female teachers “Madam” and greet you upon entering the classroom as a sign of respect and acknowledgment.

During our stay, I found Ghanaians very polite and welcoming, always asking how you are doing and wishing you well. The people work hard every day, not necessarily because they choose to, but to make a living they must, which is visible in the roadside stands and the markets. They laugh, dance, and sing with each other, making their smiles infectious to those around them, and many of them do so while praising God.

 While on my trip, I took notes of my observations and asked questions to learn more about the needs of the schools and teachers in Ghana. The basic needs appear to be pencils, paper, notebooks, whiteboards, classroom book sets, and fans. Additional things that could benefit the classrooms include windows, cubby systems, classroom posters, and more.
For future study abroad trips to Ghana, it would be most helpful for teacher education students to conduct collaborative sessions with the Ghanaian teachers before arriving.  Given the resources, we could offer arts and crafts and proper English pronunciation workshops. Overall, visiting more basic school sites and meeting as many teachers and students as possible would be advantageous.
The study abroad in Ghana, West Africa, would benefit future generations of teachers through simple exposure to such rich cultures, communities, and diverse villages.  Learning how money and resources do not change who someone is or their potential in life is an important life lesson. Limited money makes an individual more creative and resourceful. The more teacher candidates know how to be innovative, the better they can teach in any environment.
Teachers can learn to help and give back to each other and be encouraged not to be afraid to embrace whatever community they end up in; or be afraid to step outside of their comfort zone to help students who need mentors to fulfill their potential.
While in Ghana, our team visited the College of Education at Akatsi, the University of Ghana at Cape Coast, the City of Accra, the University of Health and Allied Sciences at Hohoe, Wli Waterfalls, the Monkey Sanctuary at Tafi-Atome, Kakum National Park, and the Cape Coast Castle. Each tour was exciting and educational in its right.  There was so much history and culture to take in. I plan on returning to the beautiful country myself and hope others go if given the opportunity.