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. The area we work in is very rural – if you want to get away from it all and immerse yourself in a new culture and way of life, you can’t go wrong with Ghana.
Teaching and multi-sports
African Adventures works with several schools in the coastal Volta region of Ghana. 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.
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. As a multi-sports coach, you could typically expect to start with two hour-long morning sessions at 8am. 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. If you elect to assist with coaching an adult football team, they will train in the late afternoons or early evenings.
When teaching, you will be working alongside teachers and other volunteers to help manage the demands of educating large classes of mixed students, aged between 5-16. As you gain confidence, it may be that you start helping with lesson delivery and then progress to delivering lessons independently. There are typically 50 children and only one teacher in each class, which can be challenging 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.
When coaching, it may be that you support a teacher with delivering a PE lesson or, if you are comfortable, you could deliver a sports session yourself. Don’t worry if you don’t have qualifications; all you need for this role is motivation and a can-do attitude. Football and volleyball are very popular and widely practised in Ghana. You could 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!
Your volunteering day
You will wake up and meet for breakfast at around 7:30am and will then be taken to your allocated project at around 8:30am to start your day’s volunteering. Remember to take plenty of water with you as it will be very hot and humid. A typical morning session at your school project will involve assisting in the classroom with English and Maths. This will involve you using books, writing out activities on the chalkboard and engaging students in interactive learning by asking them to join you at the front of class and address their peers. Learning English phrases and numbers through singing songs is often very popular. At around 10:30, it is likely that classes will stop for morning break where there will be time for the children to have a snack and play games. This will be followed by another lesson up until around 12:30pm when lunchtime will commence. You will break for lunch and be served a delicious hot meal that is brought to you by your Trip Host.
After lunch, you may like to take your 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 bringing some sports equipment with you if you have specific sessions planned. Afternoon activities will finish at around 3pm, at which point you will be picked up and taken back to your accommodation to relax after a hard day’s work. You may have the chance to visit the market or take a trip to the beach during the afternoon. Dinner will be served at your accommodation at around 7pm, following which you can relax with a book, play some games or reflect on your day’s volunteering with other travellers. You may also like to get involved in some drumming or practise your 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 in Ghana 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. Currently, 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
This programme focuses on improving the standards of buildings at the schools we support, particularly new classrooms, sheltered dining areas, IT suites and playgrounds. As a building volunteer, you will 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 do not worry about being out of your depth. You should be fit and healthy enough to carry out typical activities such as painting, cement-mixing, plastering and carrying moderately heavy items. If you are unsure about this, please contact your doctor.
Funding for the building work required is provided by African Adventures and African Adventures Foundation, and you will be advised before you travel about the kind of work you will be carrying out.
Your volunteering day
You will wake up and meet for breakfast at around 7:30am and you will then be taken to your allocated project around 8:30am to start your day’s volunteering. Remember to take plenty of water with you as it will be very hot and humid. Depending on your allocated construction work, a typical morning session at your school project might include cementing bricks for a new classroom, painting existing classrooms or screeding classroom walls and floors. There will be a friendly team of qualified builders to help you with these tasks. You might like to take some gloves and eyewear with you for protection.
At around 10:30am, you can stop for morning break with the children, when they take time to have a snack and play games. After 30 minutes, lessons will commence again and you can continue with your building work for another hour or so. Your Trip Host will then bring you a cooked meal around 12:30pm, which will be well-deserved after your morning’s work. In the afternoon, you will continue with your building and renovation activities until the time the school closes at around 3pm, at which point your Trip Host will take you back to the volunteer accommodation for some downtime. During the afternoon, you may like to visit the craft market or take a trip to the beach. Dinner will be served around 7pm, after which you can either get involved in some drumming and dancing or just relax with a book and reflect on your day’s volunteering.
What to Expect
During your stay, you will soon become familiar with, and adjust to, the pace of life in Ghana. Everyday life is more relaxed than the usual fast-paced lifestyle you may be used to in Western culture so be prepared for a few obstacles along the way with timings. Likewise, you may find that although we work hard to ensure that project work runs smoothly, it won’t always be exactly as advised – project needs can change and it is important that we are adaptable and flexible to manage this. The best advice we can give is to travel with an open mind and embrace the Ghanaian culture as best you can.
Ewe is the spoken language in Volta, the region you will visit. However, at school children are taught in English (with the exception of lessons for younger children), so feel confident that you will be able to interact with the teachers and children comfortably in English. The children will want to practise speaking English with you and, in turn, they will enjoy trying to teach you some Ewe! Please do not underestimate the impact this exercise can have on a person learning a new language; it could be more valuable than you think.
Outside of project hours, you can relax, get to know the other volunteers and the African Adventures staff on your programme, and explore the local area. Ghana is brimming with culture and there is an abundance of things to see and do. From visiting the weekly market to relaxing at the nearby beach, if you have never been to West Africa before, you’re going to have the time of your life! You will have the freedom to use the local transport (tro-tros) for the short journey to and from town. Just ask your Trip Host for the best way to go about doing this and they’ll be more than happy to help.
We believe in providing an experience which has clear two-way benefits. Not only will you be helping to create lasting change in this deprived area of Ghana, you will go on an amazing journey and learn a great deal in the process.
We are confident that you will:
- Learn valuable skills which you can use in the future.
- Gain experience that will benefit you and your career.
- Return home a more globally aware citizen.
- Help create lasting change in the Volta community.
- Feel proud of the impact you have made whilst volunteering.
- Go on an emotional journey that will make you appreciate what you have.
- Build new relationships and make new friends, possibly lifelong ones.
- Be inspired to continue helping to create change.
Your programme package
- Friendly pre-departure support and useful information
- Dedicated African Adventures Programme Co-ordinator and Ghana Trip Host
- Comprehensive personal travel insurance
- Western style, single-sex, shared accommodation with electricity, toilets and running water
- Daily transport to and from projects, if required
- Return airport transfers
- Drumming lesson
- Three meals per day
- Fully organised project work, with clear objectives, advised prior to departure
- 24-hour in-country support
- Trips to historic and cultural areas of interest
2017 Programme Start Dates
2018 Programme Start Dates
Cape Coast Adventure Weekend +£150
You will embark on a tour of Cape Coast Castle, where slaves were held before being transported to the Americas, and then relax by the pool before settling down for the night at your hotel accommodation.
The next day, you will set foot on a 120ft-tall canopy adventure trail though Kakum National Park, followed by lunch at a restaurant built over a crocodile lake. You will round up your weekend with a visit to a souvenir market, where you can buy some beautiful Ghanaian crafts and cloth.View the brochure
Volta Adventure Weekend +£150
Experience Ghana’s wild side where you can take a walk through the forest of a protected monkey sanctuary and feed the monkeys their breakfast.
You will also visit the tallest waterfall in Ghana, Wli Falls, and get the chance to hike up Mount Afadjato, the highest mountain in Ghana. A beautiful lodge awaits you for a relaxing overnight stay.View the brochure
Keta Lagoon Retreat +£50
Stay for the night in a rustic beach hut overlooking the astonishingly beautiful Keta Lagoon. It’s hard to beat the tranquillity and serenity of this tropical retreat. If you are looking to escape from it all after your hard work volunteering, this one-night stay is the ideal way to wind down and relax.
With plenty of social spaces, a restaurant, a bar and easy access to the beach, this excursion is perfect for those looking for a quiet and calming break without the stress of travelling. Breakfast, transport and your overnight stay are all included in the price.View the brochure
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