Exploring Educational Challenges in Africa

A task completed in a community service session with girls at ASA on 31st October

The concept of Reading Spots is very fluid. As a charity we basically aim to improve educational opportunities for children in rural areas in Ghana through the creation of ‘Reading Spots’ which will contain books; but, we also hope the ‘Spots’ can serve a number of educational functions once they are created. It is very important to us that problems are identified and solved by Africans, for Africans – we simply want to be the facilitators.

TASK 1: Therefore, to help us consider what the issues are, I would like you to consider the particular challenges relating to education in some way, faced either by yourself in your home country, or by others that you have knowledge of. This should be in a rural area due to the focus of Reading Spots. Please describe the issue in some detail. You have 5 minutes!

If you have finished quickly, write another challenge that you are aware of or that has affected you!

For example: ‘When I was in Junior High School, I wanted to study, but I didn’t have a place to study, and my house was always busy with many people creating much noise, so I found it difficult to learn. This had a negative impact upon my studies due to my failure to concentrate.’

TASK 2: With a partner, comment on two of the challenges which have been presented, offering a solution to their problem that you think Reading Spots could play a role in providing.

For example (in relation to above): ‘I think that the ‘Reading Spots’ could provide a place for students to study at night and during the weekends, where they have light, a fan, and a desk, which will provide them with the conditions and environment to be able to focus on their studies.’

While thinking of the solution, consider: what makes a solution a good solution?

The ASA girls decided:

  • The solution must be directly targeted at the specific problem.
  • The solution must be realistic – i.e. it could be quickly put into practice.
  • The solution is inline with the capacities and funds of the Reading Spots charity.
  • The solution should consider the long-term.
  • The solution should be sustainable – ideally self-sufficient in some way and not reliant upon ongoing aid.
  • The solution-maker should consider other possible consequences of the solution that might not be initially visible, and may be less positive.
  • The solution should not harm the environment in any way.

37 thoughts on Exploring Educational Challenges in Africa

  1. The challenges that my community faces is culture based where the people are limited to perform to their best abilities because they are raised to believe that they can’t. In classrooms, from primary level, the teachers point out boys as superior and once the teacher realises that a student does not understand they tend to reject them which decreases the self esteem of a student. They should instead encourage the students facing difficulties so that they can excel.

    1. Reading Spots can provide books that focus on feminism, and offer biographies of great women. In addition, training could be provided for teachers on gender bias and its effects on society

  2. One of the challenges in the educational sector in Sierra Leone especially in Freetown, which is the capital city is overcrowding in schools. Many people migrate from the rural areas to the capital city and because of this the city has become congested. For example, I went to a public school. There were 64 girls in my senior class and other classes had more pupils. There were more than 2000 girls in the whole school and we had to be split into two shifts (juniors went in the morning and seniors went in the afternoon). This means that teachers cannot give enough individual attention to the students. This greatly affects the learning of each student and is a disservice to them.

    1. I think a Reading Spot can open in Sierra Leone but it can have volunteer tutors in the library so the students coming there could have a person to ask questions to.
      Teachers can volunteer in the Reading Spot and can have tutor session everyday so the students can get a clearer idea of what they are learning in class.
      Also those students who understood the concepts in class could meet up in the reading spot with the students who didn’t understand to discuss the specific ideas.

  3. Inadequate books. In Ghana, the quantity of books given by the government to the various public schools are just a handful. At the end of the day, five or more students end up sharing the same books. Also, the government fails to update the books used by the students. These young children learn about things that are taken out of the syllabus.

    1. The schools is Ghana should make connections with non-governmental organisations so as to get fund to buy books and also the organisations can donate books to the schools. After the government has taken out some things out of the syllabus representatives should go to the various schools to make sure they update their libraries.

  4. One of the educational challenges in my country especially my home town Ajumako is lack of effective library for the students. Most students in my locality complete school with good grades in most of the subjects but perform poorly in English language. From my perspective, a lack of adequate library to help students write and speak good English is a major problem. Most pupils get declined to further their education due to poor performance. Also, even when they are able to speak good English, they are not able to write what they speak. When books are provided they can read and learn new vocabularies for their own benefit.

    1. I think a solution to this problem is giving out books to students to read. A short essay or spelling competition can be organized after about three weeks of handing the books out. This will motivate the students to read more because they will have it at the back of their minds that there is a reward at the end of reading. Before they know it, they will have improved on their reading, writing,and speaking fluency. This will go a long way to benefit them academically and socially as well.

  5. One major educational challenges faced by students in Ghana which I have identified is the inadequate reading and research facilities in the country which prevents students from further research into their areas of study. Also education in Ghana is theory based rather than practical based and this deprives students from getting a better understanding of what they are been thought. There are also poor infrastructures in which students study making it less conducive for learning.

    1. 1.Setting up research centers for students.
      2.Supplying practical kits to school by governmental and non-governmental organisations.

  6. Because of lack of enough teachers , some schools in Africa have failed to produce effective education to students .

    In most of our societies, school leavers apply to our basic schools and are employed which is concerning when they are not qualified teachers. Most of the students find it difficult to study and pass well in their exams because these teachers teach only what they know and not what exactly must be taught.

  8. I have noticed that most libraries in my neighborhood have books for both adults and kids but not really organized well so it is tough to go and find a book you might be interested in since there is no specific spot for a specific topic.

    I have also noticed that the libraries are not supervised properly so some people talk to in the library making others uncomfortable. Another thing is that the libraries are placed beside a noisy place like cafes .This leads to people not going to libraries because it not as quiet as it needs to be for you to do the thing you went there to do.

    1. I think other people in the community who are unemployed can volunteer to work in the library. Rules should be made in the library and anyone who breaks the rules should be condemned. Basically people should be quiet in the library so the rules made and the consequences of not obeying the rules will ensure order and silence in the library.
      The libraries should also be located at places away from public centres e.g( shopping malls, ranks etc) where there will be noise. This location will make the environment conducive for reading.

  9. Many young people in my community do not finish their school because their parents can no longer pay their school fees when they retire. This results in extensive work so as to raise money to go back to school and of course to support their parents. The work they will be doing is so hard that they end up being sick because their bodies are not strong enough for the work they will be doing.

  10. One challenge I faced in education was the inaccessibility of books. When I was in Junior High School, most of my mates and I could not afford the text books because they were too expensive. I had to rely on the petty notes that was given to me by my teacher. I could not bother my parents with the books. This affected my studies. Also, during my primary school days, most of the people in my neighborhood could not read and write and my parents could not help me too, any time I came home with an assignment, there was no one i could go to for help. It was either I struggle to do it or I do not do it at all.

    1. This issue can be solved by setting a community volunteering team, where individuals will assist students with their assignments.Also,volunteers can organize sessions for the parents where they will learn how to read and write in order to help their children with their assignments when the volunteers are not available.Reading spot can provide adequate books for students to borrow if need be.

  11. Most students do not have access to books and as a result, do not have the opportunity to read alone and ahead of their teachers.
    Many students can’t afford to go to school and are deprived of the opportunity to fully realise their potentials. If they had access to books some could have developed some skills that can enable them to be self-employed.
    In addition, some students who have access to the libraries do not really know what amazing things they could do with the books.

    1. In order to address the issue of inaccessibility to reading materials, we think that a reading spot can be created in the school where students who have access to the books and wouldn’t need them any more can donate those books so that other students can borrow and use them for their studies.

    2. In response to the inaccessibility to books by students, we think that ‘Reading Spots’ should organize books that will no longer be needed by students and keep them so that other students can borrow and use them for their studies.

  12. Smartphones have become very popular and a lot of people use them now. Yet, I have noticed that a great percentage of the people whose use smartphones and other sophisticated technological devices have very little knowledge about them. For this reason, such people are unable to use these devices effectively and that renders the devices less useful.
    From observation, I have realized that this is not because the phones are too complex to use but rather because the less educated people in our communities have very poor English backgrounds and so find it difficult understanding the instructions on phones. I believe that if the literate-biased nature of phones and other technological devices could be changed, even the least educated person could use any device easily and more effectively.

  13. 1. Lack of books and funding.
    2.Poor structure of school buildings causing lack of concentration.
    3. Civilization.
    4. Lack of quality practical sessions.
    5.Lack of sufficient teachers in schools especially basic schools

    1. in order to solve the issue of inadequate teachers there is need to train more teachers so that they can work and improve on the educational system.

    2. Concerning the first problem that you mentioned , Reading spots can organise something for your community or school so that you can get books for your library .

    3. I will comment on the point 3. I think the other points are being addressed by the reading spot. For the issue of civilization, i think there should be public education on the importance of reading. So the Reading Spot can have literacy program to educate the community on the importance of reading.

  14. Having spent 18 years in Ghanaian education. I have noticed that teachers do not have the required materials for practical lessons and this makes most students, especially the less privileged in society not able to understand what is taught in class but actually just memorize what is being taught for their examination seek. This makes it difficult for students to actually understand the importance of what is taught as they can not apply what they have learnt.

    1. I think the reading spots could provide some research facilities to these schools
      In addition, they could provide training where the teachers are taught how to use these facilities.

  15. When i was in JHS , I had so many house chores at home that at night , i would be too tired to learn. I think ‘Reading Spots’
    should approach parents and make them aware of the effects of overburdening their children with house chores as it affects their learning. I also think that permission should be sought especially for the girls because it seems our parents usually think we are out to do something bad.

    In most of our basics schools we lack qualified teachers. School leavers apply and are employed as teachers in our basic school.For this reason, students are not able to study hard and perform well in exams because the teachers teach what they know or think is right and not what must be thought actually.

  17. The main challenge I observed in my community, Kenya, is that there is book shortage with only one library which everyone relies on. The library is small hence doesn’t accommodate many people at the same time, so students and everyone else had to go to read in shifts. This limits students with their educational accomplishments in terms of research and school reading. To add on that, the library is supposed to accommodate all students from pre-school to university. There is no separate reading spot for the groups which doesn’t make the environment favorable for both parties to do their peaceful reading.

    1. I think the solution to this problem is to expand the building and stock it with a lot of books. The structure should be in a way that anyone at all can easily get access to what they want and also enable the library accommodate a lot of people at a time

  18. Where I live, there is no public library and most schools lack libraries. Therefore children just go to school and hear the teacher talk for hours but they don’t get the chance to do things practically. They don’t read books and so they do not improve on their reading and speaking fluency. As the saying goes, practice makes man perfect.

  19. Most basic schools in my region Volta, do not have a library but there is a library in the community. The students don’t know much about it because they don’t get motivated from their teachers to visit the place. This has affected the way they think and analyze problems because the more one reads the more knowledgeable one becomes.

  20. Children at the basic school in my community always go about aimlessly after school because they have not been involve in any activity that will keep them busy and also help them in improve their basic skills.

  21. I was quite fortunate to attend a school with a library but the problem was its usage. Our educational system is scheduled in such a way that we focus only on the academics. Teachers discourage students to read novels. Because of this essay writing is a quite a problem for me

    1. This blithe disregard for reading is to be attended. The fact that the school lacks diversity is merely a phenomena and is by no means the root cause of the problem. It is of utmost importance to introduce this new ideology that studying is valuable in itself. It should not be pursued as a means to an end and thus reading itself is enjoyable and rewarding.

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