Sleepy at school

Bridget, 8, can't help feeling tired in her Primary 1 class after walking over two kilometres to get to school. In the north, many children get to school by foot or bicycle, often traveling up to five kilometres on little to no food. Great Victory Academy, the area's highest ranked private school, attracts students from the outlying villages around Bolgatanga; there used to be a bus for them, but now it lies unused in the school's courtyard, unmaintained and empty of gas.

Sleepy at school

 

Under the teacher's watchful eye

A Primary 2 class works on an English assignment under the watchful eye of their teacher. Students at private schools like Great Victory Academy are usually separated into smaller classes of 30-40, which makes instruction and supervision much easier. One of the biggest problems for public schools is motivating their teachers, who are paid less than half of what private school teachers are paid.

Under the teacher's watchful eye

 

Biking and hitchhiking

The racks at Great Victory Academy are overflowing with bicycles, which most of the students use to get to school. In the north, where roads are in poor repair and cyclists share the road with cargo trucks and speeding cars, this is one of the most dangerous ways for kids to get to school. Still, with no school bus and no other options, most kids are forced to either walk or cycle, though sometimes sympathetic drivers will give them a lift into town.

Biking and hitchhiking

 

Second family

Students at Adabase Primary pose for a group shot during a class break. Having a uniform is one of the most significant things for most of the children; it shows that they are part of the group, that they belong. With school being such a privilege, many of the kids wear their uniforms outside of classes to show off their student status. Watch out for wear and tear though; uniform costs are one of the main reasons parents pull their children out of school.

Second family

 

Studying for the future

Students at Adabase Primary pose for a group shot during a class break. Having a uniform is one of the most significant things for most of the children; it shows that they are part of the group, that they belong. With school being such a privilege, many of the kids wear their uniforms outside of classes to show off their student status. Watch out for wear and tear though; uniform costs are one of the main reasons parents pull their children out of school.

Studying for the future


Learning the language

A student in Primary 3 at Adabase Primary works on an English assignment. Though English is the recognized official language of Ghana, many children don't learn it until they get to school. At home, most families speak in local dialects such as Twi or Fante. It's pretty easy to distinguish between the educated and uneducated in Ghana - schooled ones can speak English, and unschooled ones can't.

Learning the language


Age is but a number

(R-L) Razak, 10, Veronica, 12, and Rafia, 9, share a front row seat in their Primary 2 class. Because children are held back in school unless they pass their exams, many classes are comprised of students four or five years apart. Typically, the younger ones excel, while the older ones are left behind.

Age is but a number

 

Learning on the veranda

(R-L) Latif, Abu, and Rafia attend Kindergarten 1 classes on the veranda at Adabase Primary because there aren't enough classrooms in the compound for students under Primary 1. Their teacher says it's not uncommon for the youngsters to fall off the veranda during classes and suffer bruises and broken bones, though she points out that it's significantly cooler than being inside a classroom.

Learning on the veranda

 

Just to be there

Nursery students at Adabase Primary don't let the lack of adequate care or teaching affect their spirits - they're content just to be at school. Most nursery students are simply left on the veranda to play on their own while their teachers tend to kindergarten or primary classes. Many times, nursery children are simply sent to school with their older siblings so the parents can go to work.

Just to be there

 

Sidewalk chalking

Usefa, 3, practices his penmanship with chalk on the veranda floor. School supplies are one of the biggest needs for schools in the north; most students are only given one pencil and one notebook for an entire year. Many families need to choose between adequate feeding and school supplies, and the former almost always wins out.

Sidewalk chalking


Cornerstone

The foundation for what's supposed to be the administrative offices - according to Ayishetu Mahama, headmistress of Adabase Primary, the building has stood unfinished since 2003. As all government education funds are allocated to supplies and teaching materials, public schools rely on parental support to finance renovations, additions, etc. Mahama points out that in the north, many parents are uneducated and therefore don't see a need for education for their children. Thus support from families, though necessary to maintain school property and make important additions, is limited and unreliable.

Cornerstone


Office with a view

Eliasu Mohammed, the information and communications technology teacher at Adabase Primary, marks papers in his "office" under a tree on school grounds. Mohammed has four computers on which he teaches classes of 30-40 students how to type, navigate folders, and understand the internet. ICT is one of the most popular classes at Adabase Primary, but Mohammed says that with the current equipment, most of the students will not retain anything because they only get about five minutes each per class.

Office with a view