Monday, February 20, 2012

Careers! Opportunities! Lectures! 2012!

This past Friday, GHEI staff and volunteers presented the annual Career Opportunity Lecture Series, a chance for students in their second year of Junior High School (JHS) to get a look at what sort of careers are out there, how you can achieve it, and how to properly register for Senior High School (SHS). 

I was a bit surprised when we started this event on time, but not a bit surprised when I heard us starting this event as we do all, with pulse-pounding dance music, even at 10 am on a weekday.  The JHS students lining up to register for the event didn't seem to notice.  Were they too cool too dance?  The sullenness of adolescence is a universal truth… 

When all 86 students from the schools in Humjibre and Muoho had taken the bright, plastic chairs, Happy began explaining what the purpose of the day was, and the minute details of the schedule. Happy had assured me the day before, there would be no delays! He even pounded his fist into his hand, like he was striking a scared me a little.

After the assembled 86 students were divided up into four separate groups according to a coloured name tag, and sent off to a particular station, they would then rotate once they heard Happy's whistle.  The whistle would signal that 20 minutes was over and they had five minutes to migrate to the next station, where a last shrill blast would summon the different leaders to begin.  I told you he was serious...
Brown and Felicity

SESSION 1: BROWN and FELICITY:  School/Subject Career Match.  How do you register for courses in SHS? What are some of the areas that you would focus on in Senior High Schools?  If you study General Arts in SHS, what careers could this lead to?
Student 1: I like science, but I don't know this word “Botanist”.
Felicity: A botanist is someone who studies trees and plants.  They could be employed by environment protection agency or by natural resource ministries or these things...
Student 2: I want to be a football player.  Do I need to study these things? 
Brown: Well, any of these would be okay to study as long as you are good enough to join the football team.  But what if you are injured?  What will your career be then?

Saga and Emmanuel

SESSION 2:  EMMANUEL AND SAGA:  Technical and Vocational Education. What is offered at these schools? What sort of careers can you follow from there?  Where are these schools in Ghana?

Saga: My dear brothers and sisters, don't think of technical institutions as doing carpentry work or things like this, no. It's not only that. It is helping your great nation develop and to progress. We all want to have our electricity, to have our water to flow freely though our pipes, to have our phones work, what? Constantly! And we want to have better internet services.  My question, where do the technicians who provide these services come from? Of course!  It is through technical and vocational education. The government of Ghana has put aside about 100 million US dollars to help vocational education- 
Emmanuel: Just so you have an idea, one US dollar is equal to 15,000 Ghana Cedis.  So if you translate that, that is 15 Billion...or wait... 
Saga: That is old currency, but in new would be....something like...
Emmanuel: Yes, well, anyway, you can see the government thinks it's important.

Amoako and Jen

SESSION 3: JEN and AMOAKO. Job and Skills Match.  What skills and qualities do you need in certain fields?  What are some qualities that apply to all?

Jen: What does time management mean?
Student 1: It means to manage your time.
Jen (frowns): Hm...Okay...Yes, it means to manage your time. But that means to plan well.  If you have homework that is due on wednesday, you don't wait until Tuesday night to do it all.
Amoako: What jobs do you see on this list that demand good time management skills?
Student 2: Journalist*more timid hands go up
Jen: Don't wait! Just yell out an answer! YELL!

Degraft and Powerpoint
SESSION 4:  BRIGHT and DEGRAFT and a powerpoint presentation. Career Review:Looking at Options with   What are some of the careers that have been mentioned so far but you would like to know more about?  Let's review them...

Bright : An Engineer is someone who was trained in the making of machines, roads, buildings, and many more.  They would need to have studied this in University and in SHS they would have focussed on science.  They work very hard, and here in Ghana, just like doctors, nurses, technicians, and other science fields, they are in very high demand! We need more!  Please support your nation!

"Kids in America don't waste their time on the internet!" Uhh...
After all the sessions were done (and whistles blown) and the students had their midday meatpie snack, it was time for the lectures.  A statistician from the Bibiani District Government office, a nurse from Bekwai Clinic, a senior high school teacher at Bekwai SHS, and a catholic priest all offered their thoughts.

Each talked at length about their struggles to get to where they are now, and each commented on how much Ghana has changed since they were children.  For many of them, the idea of electricity coming into some homes was hard to think of as they studied at night by lantern.   For some, there wasn't even a JHS in their village and they would have to walk kilometres to get to one.  But all had a very similar message, “Have a goal, have a destination.  And make a road map to get there.”

The SHS teacher's point was that Ghana needs better ICT services, so study ICT.  “Do you think students in America and China are wasting their time on the internet? No!  They are researching and bringing their countries into the 21 century and beyond.”  A good point but he doesn't know kids in America like I do...

During the following question period, one student put his hand up, “Who invented the internet?”  Nobody, really knew how to answer that one.  And then, lo and behold, the priest knew the answer, he had received enlightenment...on his smart phone. 

Internet was really invented by a number of people, through a process of connecting computers in the early 1970's.  Computers back then were as big as some of these student’s mud-brick houses.  And now this priest, who studied by candle light and walked 3 kilometers on dirt roads in Ghana at the same time that supercomputers were being strung together in southern California, has a computer in his pocket. 

What will the next forty years bring in technology, in changes to the nation of Ghana, in advancements in schooling, and in the future careers of these students assembled here today? Clement closed the events of the day, and Happy gazed at his watch with satisfaction.  

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