Ghana is in dire need of trained and committed teachers to improve the quality of life of rural Ghanaians. By spending your time improving education in Ghana, your own life will be enriched by the vibrant and colorful culture, welcoming people, and the spirit of progress and promise.
Although Ghana has a comparatively high literacy rate (65% in 2007), ten percent more males than females can read. Ghana has 83% of its children in school, but there are still half a million children unable to attend because of the lack of trained teachers, scarce resources, and the expense of supplies. You can make a huge difference in this situation by choosing Ghana as your destination to teach abroad.
The Republic of Ghana stands out in West Africa as one of the continent’s most progressive countries. Home to 24 million people, including a diversity of ethnic groups, Ghana is working to widen access to health care and education for its rural poor and to improve its political transparency through maintaining freedom for the Ghanaian media. While teaching there you’ll be exposed to this exciting progress and the unique culture that infuses Ghana.
Photo Credits: chadskeers.
Ghana’s official language is English, used as both the standard language in schools and in business and government affairs. Additionally, before entrance into high school, students must take the “Basic Education Certificate Examination” (B.E.C.E.), which includes the English subject as one of its components. While spoken English is strong, the Ministry of Education aims to improve English writing and reading skills among students, so that the Ghanaian youth will become fluent.
International schools in Ghana follow either an American or British curriculum. Schools, such as the American International School of Accra or Lincoln Community School, employ ESL, general high school or English subject teachers. Jobs are also available in subjects such as music or art, or in the school’s administrative departments.
As a volunteer in Ghana, you will teach not only English, but also a variety of subjects, including math and science. Volunteers do not need formal TEFL certification, but experience with children or teaching is preferred. Often, housing and food is taken care of by the school/employer.
If formal teaching is not for you, it is possible to volunteer as an ESL tutor to lead conversation groups for local Ghanaian people, of all ages and professions. As a leader, you will tutor anywhere between 3 to 15 people and spearhead interesting, informative conversations in English. Not only will you help your students learn English, you will have the chance to engage in cross-cultural exchanges and make new friends!
Tutors do not need a TEFL certification; although, applicants must have already graduated from high school. Conversation leaders live with host families and are provided 2 meals per day (an ideal situation for anyone looking to immerse themselves in the local culture).
Finding a Job
When and Where to Look for Jobs:
Accra, the country’s capital city, is the location of most international schools and employment opportunities. However, most volunteer opportunities are located in rural regions of Ghana, near the cities of Kasoa, Kumasi, or Hohoe.
To apply as a teacher in Ghana, you must be a U.S., Canadian, Australian, or European Union citizen (i.e. a native English speaker). In addition, you must be in good health and covered by accident and sickness insurance, which some employers can provide.
Salary & Cost of Living:
Housing is usually arranged through the employer. You may be placed with a host family, in a shared home with other teachers, or at a hostel.
Depending on your preferred lifestyle, it is possible to save money as a teacher in Ghana. Paid teachers will likely earn a salary of around $500/month. Eat locally, take local transportation, minimize going out, and you will find that your salary is plenty to live off of.
Classroom & Work Culture:
Ghana’s grading system differs from the common letter grade assignment. From preschool to junior high school, grades are given in numbers. No +’s or -’s are given either. Once in high school, a combination of number and letter grades are given: A1, B2, B3, C4, C5, C6, D7, and F9 (with A1 being the highest and F9 the lowest).
A formal and long greeting is considered very respectful in Ghana. This includes saying “good morning” or “good evening” following a salute. Also, remember to eat or shake hands with the right hand only, as the left hand is considered “dirty.” Keep in mind that it is disrespectful to enter a guest’s home and eat with the left hand.