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Volunteer to teach creative arts at schools in Ghana, West Africa

#volunteertakeover News

Date Posted: 10/08/2018

#volunteertakeover News from Alexia about creativity workshops at a local school

#volunteertakeover News from Alexia about creativity workshops at a local school


This week another volunteer and I have been running creativity workshops for four to seven year-olds in Divine Home School in Kokrobite. We had been to the school before to give them supplies for arts and crafts that were donated from the UK, and while the teachers were very grateful, they were confused as to how to use some of them. That’s why we thought it could be helpful if Sarah (the other volunteer) and I got to do arts and crafts projects with the kids and their teachers, where they could learn how to use the donated materials, as well as some recycled materials that they can find relatively easily in the future.

Now picture this scene: in our first workshop there was a class of about 20 kids, sitting at their tables with pens, colored pencils, crayons, paints, markers, and blank sheets of paper in front of them. Sarah and I told them that they could use all of the materials to explore and draw whatever came to mind. What do you think happened within the next five minutes? I expected a bit of chaos, knowing that at least five-year-old me would have gone crazy at the sight of glitter paint and three different shades of pink crayons. Imagine my surprise when I started looking at the sheets of paper and found them just like they had been five minutes ago, blank. The kids were waiting for instructions, for someone to tell them exactly what they should draw and how. When we gave them more detailed guidelines, they started trying the different materials and enjoying themselves more. But until then, most of them were blocked.

The teachers explained to us that creativity is not a big part of Ghanaian education, and children often learn by repetition and are not usually encouraged to use their imagination in school. Even though I can’t generalize and say that this is true for all schools in Ghana, teachers at House of Grace School for the Deaf and volunteers who visited several schools near the community have similar perceptions of the limited role of art and creativity in Ghanaian education. We took this into account when designing the next workshops, which I think the kids really enjoyed, and writing up some suggestions for projects that the teachers could do with the kids in the upcoming years, which they sounded very happy about.

This experience showed us how different the Ghanaian approach to education is from the one that we were brought up with, and how these differences impact a child’s ability to use its imagination at a young age. That is definitely not to say that Ghanaian people are not creative or imaginative. In my time in Ghana I have seen beautiful paintings, sculptures, clothes, acrobatic shows, lots of singing, music and dancing, all of which couldn’t be described as anything but creative. But the workshops at Divine Home were a reminder that kids will soak up whatever you teach them, and that’s what they will reflect and use to build their character. It’s why projects to improve access and quality of education are so important. It’s why we (we as in the NGO, and we as in people in general) need to keep going out of our way to try to make a difference, no matter how small.

Happy Friday,

Alexia x 

Author: Alexia - PWA Volunteer

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