High School kids are the same all over the world

Trip Start Jun 25, 2011
Trip End Jul 17, 2011

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Flag of Ghana  ,
Thursday, July 7, 2011

This morning we visited Labone Senior High School which was a short walk from our residence.  It is a huge complex, with several classroom buildings and several dormitories for students and also teachers.  Unlike the other schools we have visited it is a public school that does receive its funding from the government and school fees.  We first met the headmistress and then went to a history class.  In Ghana students pick different tracks to follow when they go to high school which then determines what they will study in University if they go.  In South Africa last year we learned that they do this in the second year of HS while here in Ghana it is right from the first.  So for example the students who want to do anything with science or maths take as their courses Bio, Chem, Physics and Maths for all four years - no humanities courses at all.  Interestingly the history class we went to was all girls except for one boy.  Talking to the students we learned that boys don't usually take history because it is in the track with literature, French and art.  After listening to the teacher's lesson we had some time to interact and talk with the students.  Incidentally during the teacher's lesson various students were reading other books, no one was taking notes and someone was opening a snack.  I don't blame them, the lesson was kind of boring.  Also the girls I spoke to wanted to know if I was on facebook, wanted my email address and could I take a picture of them.  The Interwebz bringing people together.  All the girls I talked to wanted to go to University when they graduated.  They also wanted to know what I taught and how old I was.  More importantly they wanted to know about Kelvin, our CRA who is a young handsome guy.  Teenagers :)    As we left this classroom a few of my classmates were asked by a young lady about religion and whether they were Christian or not.  She was and seemed genuinely concerned when some folks were a bit ambiguous about their religious beliefs.  She was polite and very earnest.  She was very eager to share her beliefs with us.  This kind of exchange at a public school would probably not occur in the U.S. in most places and so it was interesting to see how it transpired.  We visited the office of one of the art teachers who showed us student art.  It was excellent and in different mediums including collage, watercolor, oils and carving.  Very talented students.  We next stopped by a biology lab classroom.  I felt a little bad because I had asked if we could visit and I think the students and teacher were on their way to break.  The room was really large and their seemed to be more boys than girls but not the skewed ratio we saw in the history class.  Of course I had to ask the biology teacher about evolution.  They learn it in the last year of high school only.  Our prof then said that in the U.S. there is a controversy to teaching evolution because of a conflict with religion that it would lead students away from God.  The teacher's response was "It is no problem in Africa!"  I would like to investigate that further to see if this is the case truly.  Back onto the bus and to lunch at a place called Melting Moments.  Every time I say the name I have to say it in a soft breathy voice as if I was shilling for an herbal tea company.  The food was pretty good and they even have real coffee there!  I didn't indulge but I have been jonesin'  The instant coffee and milo mixture that I have been working on ain't cuttin' it. 

After lunch we reconvened to visit the W.E.B. du Bois Center.  If you didn't know... Du Bois was the first black person to graduate from Harvard with a PhD and then went on to become a writer, scholar, activist and professor.  He was invited to come to Ghana by Kwame Nkrumah in 1961 where he lived with his wife until his death in 1963.  He was very active in Pan-African politics and while in Ghana began writing a series of books about every African country.  He was only able to complete three volumes of the Encyclopedia Africana (Sierra Leone, Nigeria, South Africa, Botswana, ) before he died at age 95 here in Ghana.  The house we visited was where he lived and contained personal artifacts from before and during his stay in Ghana.  We saw his hoods and robes for his doctorate from Harvard as well as honorary doctorate from the University of Ghana.  When du Bois passed he was buried on site and you can visit the mausoleum where his remains and his wife's ashes are located.  After our visit we returned to the residence before we headed out to dinner. 
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