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Parental Investment; Greatest Challenge to Children’s Education
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Richard Kuwornu, Mathematics teacher at Kanda Estate 3 Junior Secondary School
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Richard Kuwornu is a Mathematics teacher at Kanda Estate 3 Junior Secondary School in Accra. While students are on a break, he offers a reassuring smile before discussing his take on the state of schools and future opportunities and challenges in the classroom.

As underfunded as he feels schools are, he claims that in some ways, the current state of Junior Secondary Schools is an improvement from his days as a pupil. “We keep their exercise books so they are always neat,” he says, adding, “there are enough textbooks from the government.”

With a total of 18 years in pedagogic experience, he has already seen an increase in class size, and a need to keep up facilities, especially furniture: “I realized that the furniture is just being produced; [no one takes] the size of the students into consideration.” So often, larger junior secondary students fit uncomfortably into desks fitted for primary students.

Still, the greatest challenge for him in the classroom is pupil attentiveness. Students were roaming the outdoor corridors, discussing sports and dancing, but once in the classroom, some sleep. Kuwornu attributes this to the child’s busy schedule at home.

“Some of them, instead of going to do their homework, end up selling in the streets. Some wake up really early to assist their parents either to sell or carry their wares to the market,” he says.

Technology may be a key to enlivening students’ progress, or as he puts it, a move away from “chalk and dusters.”

He is especially interested in the parents’ role in improving the educational agenda of their children. “If you look at the private schools around, where parents are actively involved, [those children] are making the results.”

Pupils of a public school.
At the public schools, where education is free and guaranteed, parents do not acknowledge the solid investment that educational opportunity brings.

“I realized we need to do a public relations campaign,” Kuwornu asserts. This idea has been of central interest to the veteran teacher. The government should dedicate more to educating parents on their children’s future livelihoods which can only be achieved through a dedication to studies.

Kuwornu says that students might be better off passing exams in just the subjects that interest them, instead of forcing them to complete a full array of exams in language arts, social studies, mathematics and science. “There is a need for drastic change,” he stresses about future curricula.

On the other hand, it might be the teachers who need additional training after they have begun practicing in the field. Kuwornu laments that he has only attended one professional development class since arriving at Kanda 6 years ago.

“I am appealing that we [teachers] have enough workshops,” he adds.
Source: Caroline Stauss, University of Oregon Intern at PeaceFM

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