Curriculum Development at Junior High Schools in Ghana
During the first half of 2011, Miranda Pieron conducted research in Ghana for her dual-degree MSc program in Science Communication and Water Management, both through TU Delft. Her research focused on two junior high schools in Ghana, and she studied the opportunities for including weather measurements in their curricula. Below is a summary of her main findings, written by Rolf Hut.
The full reports can be found here: [Report], [Poster].
The most important conclusions of Miranda’s work are presented in this summary; however, her research was very thorough, and includes many additional recommendations. Anyone planning to work on TAHMO is encouraged to read the whole report.
Miranda concludes that for TAHMO weather stations to be considered ideal, multiple aspects of “ideal” must be considered:
– Ideal for technical production and distribution
– Ideal for use and maintenance in the sub-Saharan context
– Ideal for functional and reliable weather dissemination
By conducting interviews, workshops, and a literature review, Miranda has identified several pointers to help TAHMO achieve those ideals. In the next three paragraphs I will summarize (in my opinion) the most important points she makes, and in the final paragraph I will summarize her recommendations.
Ideal for technical production and distribution
For weather stations to be successful from a technical and distribution point of view, care must be taken to address the following points:
– Have good, local project management that understands the local context and has the authority to address local situations.
– Sell your philosophy, not your product.
– Test the product and design to prevent wrong/undesired interpretations.
– The weather station should come with repair instructions and spare parts to guarantee continuity in its use.
– Except for mobile phones (GSM, no data, only voice), (wireless) ICT is not used within the Ghana meteorological agency.
Ideal for use and maintenance in the sub-Saharan context
For weather stations to continue to be successful for years following deployment, care must be taken to address the following points:
– Weather stations should enable teachers and students to carry out the actual measurements themselves to increase comprehension.
– Weather stations and/or accompanying materials should provide clear instructions on the meanings and functioning of the equipment to decrease teachers’ uncertainty.
– Weather stations and accompanying materials should be both fun and interesting for both students and teachers.
– Competition is a key concept in the Ghanaian education (between countries, regions, schools and students); this should be taken into account when working on (educational) material for the weather station.
– The Junior High School (JHS) syllabus requiress practice with measurement equipment, but this is never done in schools due to the lack of materials. This is an opportunity for the introduction of the weather station.
– Resources in Ghanaian public schools are very limited; equipment and visual teaching-learning materials are usually unavailable.
Ideal for functional and reliable weather dissemination
For weather stations to deliver information to users in a reliable and accurate way, the following points must be taken into account:
– Internet is not widely available (yet). Radio would be the best means to communicate to a large public.
– Raw weather measurements, without an interpreting forecast step, would not be useful to local people in Ghana.
– According to Ghana Meteorological Agency (Gmet) personnel, JHS staff and students are not skilled and knowledgeable enough to add value to the national observation network. This sensitivity must be addressed!
– Gmet’s adoption of a sensor network based on (Wi-Fi) communication will require a paradigm shift for the whole organization.
Recommendations for further research and next steps
The following are suggestions for further research and steps that should be taken to advance the development of the TAHMO network:
– Thus far, research has focused primarily on “adoption intentions”. Further research on the actual adoption behavior should be studied. Of course, this can only be done when the first pilot projects are carried out.
– In addition to weather station hardware, additional material, such as spare parts, manuals, information booklets, and guides for teachers, should also be developed. These additional products will be crucial for the long-term success of the TAHMO endeavor.