Ghana Together works with our Ghanaian friends of Western Heritage Home, a Ghanaian-registered and managed non-profit, to improve social, educational, and health conditions in Axim, Ghana. Together we accomplish projects, connect WHH to resourceful individuals and organizations, and create sustainable programs. We make a real difference to real people in a local, grassroots effort. Our website at tells our story.

Nov 26, 2011

The Jerome Chandler Science Resource Center Full Swing!

Oh Wow! Look at all this stuff!!

Eric Jim, JHS Science Center Supervisor and Students
In an Aug 14 news article (see below), we reported that Ghana Together, Western Heritage Home, the Ghana Education Service, and the Axim District Assembly are cooperating to create a Science Resource Center for junior high classes in Axim. The day has come and the Center is open for business!

Jerome Chandler, a retired college science instructor and Ghana Together board director, spent most of September 2011 in Axim working with Ghanaian science teacher Eric “Jim” Jimpetey Djan, Science Resource Center Supervisor, setting up the Center on the 2nd floor of the WHH facility. Jerome produced a fascinating report with lots of photos which you can find on his “Fiziks is Phun” blog (see link at end of this article).

We talked with Eric via phone recently about how things are going. He said, in his calm manner, that “things are going smoothly.” Six schools are now using the Center for their first-level junior high students, with five more possible. Not all have science teachers in place at this time, which is the beginning of their new school year. Science teachers are scarce. Many are fulfilling their National Service requirement---not necessarily trained as teachers---which is required for all college graduates in Ghana.

At this point, 253 students/week are receiving hands-on practicum instruction for the first time. The children, accompanied by their science teacher, walk up to a half hour to get from their school to the Center. Two of the classes from Axim Methodist-Government and Dr. Bemish schools are very large---up to 70 students at one time. WHH and Ghana School personnel are in the process of setting up a One Laptop Per Child computer lab. When operational, the large classes will be split in half.

Eric says the biggest challenge is that schools must re-adjust their accustomed schedules. Math and English teachers are reluctant to give up any instruction time. The students spend about an hour walking to and from the WHH facility—a lot of time out of the day which, after all, begins at sunrise and ends at sunset, since Axim is nearly on the equator and few homes or schools have electric lights. So, he is working with the headmasters to smooth things out. It’s simply not financially or logistically possible for individual schools to have equipped science rooms, and Ghana nationally is emphasizing hands-on instruction in science and computers, so there is no lack of commitment. One of the schools is using the Science Center on Saturdays, when there are no other classes and the students can spend a longer time.

Eric himself has been teaching for six years. He completed his BSC in Electricals at the Ghana University of Education-Winneba/Kumasi Campus. As Science Center Supervisor he organizes materials, sets up experiments, works with individual teachers so their theoretical lessons and the practicums coincide, and generally helps not only the students but their teachers, too, who may have only limited hands-on experience themselves. He works under Mr. Sarfo Hayford, who is the curriculum director for science instruction in the Axim District, with 32 schools, including three senior high schools. The GES requested Ghana Together to help at the junior high level, specifically, as the age level with the greatest need.

The Jerome Chandler Science Resource Center occupies a large room on the 2nd floor of the Western Heritage Home facility, which is reasonably centrally-located to the schools. The facility has piped water, working toilets, and electricity (most schools do not). WHH painted the room. Ghana Together donated funds for six large tables, 42 stools, a raised teacher’s desk, extensive shelving in a storeroom, lockable cabinet, some five dozen storage tubs for science materials, a computer projector, whiteboard, etc. All of the furniture construction was contracted out to local Axim carpenters.

We shipped 18 boxes of science materials that could not be purchased easily in Ghana. Miriam Quansah, Director of Education for Axim, worked with Ghana customs to facilitate entry without incurring import fees. A great many items were hand-crafted by Jerome (thereby modeling how teachers can fashion materials themselves). We hand-carried about 150 lbs in suitcases. Jerome wrote many lesson plans for teachers and students experiments, bound in 3-ring notebooks, with DVD versions included. Teachers can use these plans directly, because they are based on Ghana’s JHS science curriculum, and also as models for their own plans. We spent about $600 in Ghana on science materials available there (we always prefer to buy locally, if possible). In addition, we have delivered 52 One Laptop Per Child computers donated by folks all over the US.
Now, please take a few minutes to look at Jerome’s report---full of photos and just fascinating. While you’re reading it, remember that Jerome spent four of his early years as a science instructor and five as headmaster at St. John’s School in Sekondi, Ghana. After his retirement as a Science Instructor at Skagit Valley College, he traveled to Ghana with our team in 2006. He returned in 2007 to be honored by St. John’s at their 50th anniversary celebration.
When we formally incorporated Ghana Together in 2008, Jerome was a founding member and continues to serve as a Board Director. He returned to Ghana in 2009 to conduct three weeks of workshops for Axim’s Junior High Science teachers. He dedicated much of his time in 2011 to creating the science room by buying or crafting materials, writing teachers’ instructions and student experiments, and overcoming the communication challenges involved between Mount Vernon and Axim! Then he spent September in Axim putting it all together.
We estimate Jerome has dedicated at least 15 years of service to Ghana, in one way or another! It is so fitting that Axim honored Jerome with a special ceremony, and named the room the “Jerome Chandler Science Resource Center.” Thank you for making Jerome's dream (and maybe that of quite a few children) become reality!

Jerome receives a plaque from School Director Marian Quansah and Municipal Chief Executive Cobbinah