Curriculum Development at Junior High Schools in Ghana
During the fist half of 2011, Miranda Pieron worked in Ghana to perform research for her additional thesis for her double degree MSc program in Science Communication and Water Management, both at TU Delft. The work covered trials at two junior high schools in Ghana and concerned the possibilities to include weather measurements in their curricula. Below, you find a summary by Rolf Hut of her main finding.
In this summary, the most important conclusions of Miranda's work are presented. However, her work was very thorough, and includes a lot of recommendations. This summary will not cover all of them. Anyone planning to work on TAHMO is encouraged to read the whole report.
Miranda concludes that for TAHMO to be an ideal weather station, different sides of “ideal” have to 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, workshop and literature review, Miranda has provided pointers to reach that ideal situation for each of these areas. In the next three paragraphs I will summarize (in my opinion) the most important points she makes. In the final paragraph I will summarize her recommendations.
Ideal for technical production and distribution
For the weather station to be a success 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 situation and has the authority to adopt to the local situation.
- Sell your philosophy, not your product.
- Test the product / design to prevent wrong / undesired interpretations.
- The weather station should come with repair instructions / 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 the weather station to be a continued success after introduction, care must be taken to address the following points:
- The weather station should enable teachers and students to carry out the actual measurements themselves to increase comprehension.
- The weather station and / or accompanying materials should provide clear instructions on the meanings and functioning of the equipment to decrease teachers' uncertainty.
- The weather station and accompanying materials should induce feelings of pleasure (fun / delight) and arousal (interest / curiosity) in 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 demands practice with measurement equipment, although 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 public school are very limited: practical equipment or visual teaching-learning materials are not available.
Ideal for functional and reliable weather dissemination
For the weather station 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 people (ie. local to 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 has to be addressed!
- For Gmet to adopt a sensor network based on (wifi) communication will require a shift in paradigm for the whole organization.
Recommendations for further research and next steps
The following points are suggestions for further research and next steps that have to be taken to move the development of the TAHMO weather station onwards:
- The research so far has focused 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 being carried out.
- Alongside the weather station itself, additional material such as spare parts, manuals, information booklets and guides for teachers do need to be developed. These additional products to develop will be crucial in the prolonged success of the whole TAHMO endeavor.