TL;DR – Talk to kids we are supporting in West Africa who are dissecting stuff!

Link to a photo of us now: https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B3qlx3IPOm6mTVN0V0pyNXRPVU0

My name is Meagan Allen, I'm a volunteer with an NGO called Exponential Education in Ghana and I'm here now with some of our students from Ejisu Model Junior Secondary School, Frank, Dzifa, Faustina, Janet, and Aba. Ask us Anything!

Here in Ghana, the education system has many challenges, including an over-reliance on rote learning, lack of funding and resources in general, and under/poorly-trained teachers.

To help counter these challenges, Exponential Education runs various after-school programs, ranging from our flagship Peer-to-Peer Math and English tutoring program, to our Girls Leadership, Empowerment, and Action (LEAP) program, to our Level Up Village (LUV) classes, which focus on Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math (STEAM).

At Ejisu Model JHS we currently run a LUV Global Doctors Anatomy class. The students meet once a week after school to learn about human body systems in a hands-on and interactive way. Through this class, they use scalpels and forceps to dissect and learn, something they would not have the opportunity to do in a regular Ghanaian classroom. We are also running a Global Inventors class, where they get to learn about 3D printing! The kids are also partnered with a school in another country that they exchange videos with to learn about each other's culture, while also sharing observations about their hands-on classes.

If you'd like to help support our organization and important programs like these, please visit our donations page here. A small amount can go a long way and any contribution would be greatly appreciated! None of our American staff take salaries and field staff like myself take small living stipends. All of your donations will go towards supporting our programs here on the ground.

I'd also be happy to send donors a thank-you card from the kids, Ghanaian chocolate, locally produced fabrics and crafts, etc. Just PM me your details so we can work out shipping.

If you are interested in learning about our other programs, check out our past AMAs and our various social media:

Peer-to-Peer AMA: https://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/4qwupf/we_are_staff_students_and_teachers_at_a_village/

Girls LEAP AMA: https://bestofama.com/amas/56ggk3

Website: www.exponentialeducationprogram.org

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ExponentialEducation/

Happy Holidays,

Meagan Allen

Director of Operations, Ghana

Exponential Education

EDIT: We have been joined by Elsie, the science teacher at Ejisu Model JHS!

UPDATE 11/26 4:25 GMT: The kids when need to leave soon, we will get to as many questions as we can. Thanks for your interest!

UPDATE 11/26 5:36 GMT: The kids and Ms. Elsie had to go home for chores and dinner. I will continue to answer remaining questions, but am about to travel from my office to home (dinner time), so I'll get to them soon!

UPDATE 11/26 8:57 GMT: Thanks everyone for your overwhelming interest! There are just too many questions for me to get to tonight. I have to sign off for now, but will get back to questions tomorrow. I will also try to get in touch with the kids for some more answers from them directly.

UPDATE 11/27 5:24 GMT: I'll try to get to more questions tonight and answer what I can without the kids (they are all at home with their families), but I won't be able to take any more questions after that as I have to do regular work tomorrow. Sorry all!

As a quick reminder, as many of you have asked, you can find out more about supporting our organization and programs on our donate page here. ALSO, we are actually prepping for our annual giving campaign for Giving Tuesday, so feel free to share our info with your networks as well: exponentialeducationprogram.org/donate

Comments: 1210 • Responses: 57  • Date: 

berryjam1023 karma

First of all, thank you for the fantastic job you do :) what would your pupils like to be when they grow up?

Expo_Education1672 karma

dzifa: i want to be a medical doctor.

JANET: I want to be a pilot.

Aba: I want to be a banker.

Frank: I waNT To be a Journalist.

Faustina: I want to be a news castor.

fherry13592 karma

You said that I could ask you anything... What do you guys eat for Breakfast? I'm actually always curious what kinda diet people have around this region.

Expo_Education819 karma

Daizfa: oats

Aba: porridge (Meagan: this is different than the porridge you are used to probably, this is made from millet and is a drinkable, thick liquid)

Janet: tombrown (another form of porridge)

Frank: banku and hot pepper

RoosterSamurai523 karma

Are the students able to participate in school club activities? Soccer, baseball, basketball, etc.

Expo_Education668 karma

Yes! They participate in several clubs. For instance, Aba participates in basketball and Frank participates in 4H, using their minds and hands to create things such as soaps.

RoosterSamurai436 karma

That's great! I sent over a little support for you guys on the donation page. I'm a junior high school teacher in Japan. I wish you and your students all the best!

Expo_Education471 karma

Meagan: Thank you so much for your support! The kids actually have a couple questions for you!

Frank: I have a question for you. What time of day do lessons start in Japan?

Dzifa: What subjects do the kids take?

haikusharks81 karma

Woah like telekinesis?

Expo_Education285 karma

Unfortunately, Professor Xavier has not yet established an academy in Ghana, yet.

kjeckm409 karma

Hi everyone!

I work in a public middle school in Berkeley, California.

What are your favorite books?

Expo_Education407 karma

Dzifa: Cock crow (Elsie: this is an abridged version of classical stories, poetry, drama, etc.)

Frank: A novel entitled Julie's dance.

Aba: Summertime at Saint Claire's

itstimeforcheesecake374 karma

Hi guys! What's the most interesting thing you've learnt at school so far?

Expo_Education774 karma

Frank: Learning about time and money in maths, and it helped me to learn how to manage it well.

Dzifa: the reproductive system in science

Faustina: food and nutrition

el_frexicano371 karma

Hey from El Paso, Texas!

What do yall wanna do with your educations in the future?

What kinds of things do you dissect?

How's the chocolate?!

Expo_Education473 karma

Meagan: Hello! Please see the above response to your first question.

Everyone: a frog, grasshopper, shark liver, worms, and sheep heart

Frank: I like chocolate because it is produced from my country.

el_frexicano142 karma

Thanks for the response! This is a cool AMA

If you have time i have a couple more questions

Which was your favorite to dissect and why? Which didn't you like?

Would you be interested in trading a little Ghanaian chocolate for a bunch of Mexican candy if possible? I'd love to trade the experience with you!

Expo_Education230 karma

Which was your favorite to dissect and why?

Dzifa: The frog, because during the dissection of the frog, I was surprised to hear that the frog has a teeth.

Which didn't you like? Janet: The shark liver. (Elsie: the kids did not get to dissect it, they watched a video as we cannot get this organ here)

Would you be interested in trading a little Ghanaian chocolate for a bunch of Mexican candy if possible? I'd love to trade the experience with you!

Everyone: Yes!

Meagan: PM me so we can arrange it.

birthdaybutt137 karma

What an awesome organization! Are you accepting volunteers?

Expo_Education151 karma

Meagan: We do periodically accept volunteers based on the school terms. We already have volunteers lined up for next term, but I encourage you to keep an eye on our website for the next posting! As well, feel free to PM me and we can get your contact information to notify you.

those_pesky_kids123 karma

Hi Meagan, thanks for coordinating this. Some questions for your students:

  • How did you find out about these programs and how did you get started?

  • What's something you've learned from the foreign students you've been in contact with? What's something you think is important to teach them about yourselves, your culture, etc.?

  • What are your ideas on what you'll do after the program ends?

  • What's something you want to learn that the program doesn't currently teach?

Expo_Education170 karma

How did you find out about these programs and how did you get started?

Elsie: It was introduced to us by the former program manager at Exponential Education, Taylor.

What's something you've learned from the foreign students you've been in contact with?

Janet: They are friendly and very active, and some of them like eating.

What's something you think is important to teach them about yourselves, your culture, etc.?

Frank: How to dance to some of the tunes of our music and to speak some of our language, and how to sing our music

What are your ideas on what you'll do after the program ends?

Janet: Will try to dissect some animals myself.

Dzifa: I will try to advise the general public on the prevention of some disease.

What's something you want to learn that the program doesn't currently teach?

Frank and Aba: To learn more about the human body system than what is in the class

dumb_giraffe131 karma

Will try to dissect some animals myself.

Janet, pls no

Expo_Education8 karma

Yes, I was a bit wary of her response too, but I am confident she meant in a scientific way.

The perspective on animals here is quite different from America though. Most Ghanaians don't have pets and don't really seem interested in the concept. I do have neighbors that regularly feed a local cat, and I have local friends who own dogs, but it's only for breeding and/or protection purposes. For the most part, Ghanaians are afraid of dogs. So I wasn't entirely surprised by her answer.

ThePlumThief87 karma

Howdy, y'all.

My question is; after receiving a proper education, do you kids plan on staying in Ghana and trying to find work/improve the country, or do you plan on moving to more economically sound countries?

My parents are immigrants and moved from their home countries so that our family could be prosperous in America.

Basically, where (geographically) do you educated kids see yourselves in 10-15 years?

Expo_Education210 karma

after receiving a proper education, do you kids plan on staying in Ghana and trying to find work/improve the country, or do you plan on moving to more economically sound countries?

Janet: I will stay in my country, but go to another country for fun

Faustina: Move to another country because the sun is too scortchy here

Frank: Yep, I will stay in my country to develop it and make a star out of it. I will make Ghana developed to make it like the other countries.

Aba: I will stay here

Dzifa: I will move to another country to experience another way of life

Basically, where (geographically) do you educated kids see yourselves in 10-15 years?

Dzifa: Washington, D.C.

Faustina: Paris

Flint_KWLC87 karma

I was a foreign exchange student in Ghana back 2010, so I understand the rote situation. Are there any teaching styles or techniques that you as students would like to see your teachers use? Such as reciprocal teaching, group style discussing, anything like that? (sorry, I'm a teacher now, so I find this stuff cool)

Expo_Education107 karma

Faustina: discussion

Frank: using the Internet in class sections

Janet: debating

Elise: activities in the classroom

Meagan: Thanks for your question! This is a challenge we try to address with all of our programs, trying to make it more of an interactive learning environment, using games and activities as much as possible.

Metafx73 karma

Is your program, LUV Global Doctors Anatomy, geared towards sparking an interest in medicine as a career?

Are the student dissecting cadavers or something else? How involved are the dissections scientifically—are you explaining organs, veins, and nerves, etc?

What do your students want to do career wise?

Expo_Education85 karma

Elsie: There is that aspect for gearing them towards medicine, but there is also a health aspect, encouraging them to take care of their bodies.

The kids are only dissecting organs in that class. They are quite involved scientifically, the organs and such are explained as part of the class.

Meagan: Please see the above response on the kids' career interests.

jaybyrrd70 karma

Hey guys! I have a couple of questions!

What change do you want to see happen in your lifetime?

If you could choose to do one thing for others right now and have it made possible instantly, what would it be?

Keep up the good work! It will take you far!

Expo_Education206 karma

What change do you want to see happen in your lifetime?

Janet: Peace in Ghana (Meagan: although Ghana is a very peaceful country)

Frank: Development

Dzifa: Free education

Faustina: Good leaders

If you could choose to do one thing for others right now and have it made possible instantly, what would it be?

Frank: Build a mansion for orphans and mad (Meagan: mentally ill) people to stay and have a comfortable way of life

Dzifa: Make education free in Ghana

Faustina: Equal rights

awkward_pwnguin68 karma

If you could go anywhere in the world where would you go?

Also, I am a student in college studying the ocean, what do you want to learn more about?

Expo_Education128 karma

If you could go anywhere in the world where would you go?

Janet: Las Vegas, Hollywood

Faustina: India, Taj Mahal, Agra

Dzifa: Mexico City

Frank: Paris

Aba: Los Angeles

Also, I am a student in college studying the ocean, what do you want to learn more about?

Faustina: I want to learn more about aquatic organisms.

Skibiribiripoporopo63 karma

Hi guys!

What do you do for fun in your spare time?

Cheers from Brazil!

Expo_Education112 karma

Faustina: reading and drawing

Dzifa: writing stories and jokes

Janet: drawing and browsing the Internet

Frank: dancing and singing

Aba: playing video games

BlackBloke58 karma

By many projections the west African nations of Ghana and Nigeria are poised to do very well economically in the next 20 years or so, which is in time for middle school students like yourselves to be in position to take on leadership and institutional roles.

Are you particularly excited for the future of your country and see yourself building a life there? Or do you lean more toward the modern African Diaspora and see yourself settling abroad when you come of age?

I wish all of you all the best!

Expo_Education29 karma

Meagan: Thank you for your question! Please see the above responses by the kids to ThePlumLeaf's question.

battmrown44 karma

If you could 3D print yourselves anything, what would it be?

Expo_Education65 karma

Faustina: A piggy bank

Frank: A robot

Dzifa: A doll

Aba: A name tag (for a shirt)

Janet: A toy car (like you can ride in)

smollargeneral43 karma

2 questions:

1) Are students commonly allowed to ask questions of the teacher?

2) What are punishments for misbehaving and under performing?

Expo_Education78 karma

Elise: Yes, it is normal practice for kids to ask questions. Punishments vary. For underperformance there is no punishment, but for misbehaving it depends on the behavior.

Meagan: To add more information to Elsie's response, sometimes kids are afraid to ask questions in class sometimes, for fear of mockery. And corporal punishment is a practice in and outside of the classroom in Ghana. Of course, Exponential Education does not allow beatings as part of the programs we offer.

perksoftaylor36 karma

What STEAM class do your student like best?

Expo_Education47 karma

Aba: I like the Inventors class.

Janet, Frank, Faustina, and Dzifa: I like the Anatomy class.

coffeshots34 karma

Hello! hope everything is well! Teachers, how do you prepare for lessons without all the necessary rescoures? Dont mean to be rude! Thanks

Expo_Education28 karma

Elsie: Basically, you use some activities, like discussion and other materials (maybe a picture) when you don't have the item itself.

aerionkay31 karma

Hi, I'm from India. I was exposed to the world via the internet only when I was in highschool so these are my questions.

What did you notice in the kids that was very similar to kids in USA?

And kids, what about the rest of the world surprised you the most?

Expo_Education39 karma

Meagan: It's actually kind of surprising how much is similar! I'm always impressed by the creativity of kids. They don't have much in the form of entertainment. That is very different (like toys are less common, as is technology in general). However, what is universal is the ability of a child to make anything into a toy or a game.

The kids are gone now, so sorry! But to try to answer your second question, Ghanaians are often surprised at things like my ability to type quickly (basically computer and tech skills). Also in an earlier question, the kids were talking about how they thought the American kids in their partner school liked to eat a lot! So perhaps they would be surprised by our love of food too?

nastymujer30 karma

Hello Meagan, Elsie, Frank, Dzifa, Faustina, Janet, and Aba! I'm an educator here in the US and I have my degree in the STEM field.

Meagan and Elsie: Is there anything in particular that is not within the standard curriculum you wish to teach your students (ex: cool science projects or lessons, certain books, life lessons, specific historical events)

Frank, Dzifa, Faustina, Janet, and Aba: What do you like most about your teachers? What do you want to learn more about?

Expo_Education26 karma

Is there anything in particular that is not within the standard curriculum you wish to teach your students

Elsie: The LUV Anatomy class is good because what they are studying is not actually in the regular Ghanaian curriculum. So that is beneficial for them when they go to the next level.

What do you like most about your teachers? What do you want to learn more about?

Aba: They are friendly.

Dzifa: They teach to the understanding the pupils

Faustina: They sometimes crack jokes to make the class interesting.

What do you want to learn more about?

Meagan: Please see previous question; they want to have more art and music classes. Thanks!

ImEnhanced25 karma

To Frank: What about being a journalist appeals to you the most? I've been considering the occupation myself.

Expo_Education101 karma

Frank: I want to be a journalist because I feel like my people need news, they need information about ongoing activities. I feel like I can speak publicly on behalf of others.

evanthegirl20 karma

This is absolutely wonderful! I'm tearing up over here. I used to be a math and science teacher, but now I'm a software developer. Most of my students hated being in school. Do you find that to be untrue with these students?

Expo_Education26 karma

Meagan: I actually find that most are relatively OK with being in school. I think there is a heavy focus here on education because it is an opportunity that much of the older generations here didn't have. There are naturally trouble kids and those that regularly act out, but I find it's more commonly because they are struggling academically and that is the best coping mechanism. It's less common that it's because they don't want to be there.

As well, corporal punishment is common and encouraged is schools and the home. This naturally affects students' perceptions of the classroom. They like teachers that don't beat them, simply put.

Kalastrielle20 karma

What a fantastic thing to do! I am a teacher in Ireland - I teach 6 and 7 year olds. What is the school day like in Ghana? What time do you start and what subjects do you do?

Expo_Education32 karma

Aba: We start at 7:30 or 8 am

Everyone: math, science, english, social studies, Twi (local language), religious and moral education, information and communication technology, basic design and technology (vocational skills, such as cooking, art, etc)

onthebalcony19 karma

Hello from Denmark! I went to Ejisu a few years ago - the temple is cool, and I had the best food in my entire Ghana trip in the hotel at the opposite end on the big road. It didn't seem to have a name at the time as it was under construction. Is it done now?

More relevant to your Ama - what aspirations do you have?

Expo_Education27 karma

Elise: I think you are referring to Anita hotel, which is finished.

Meagan: Yes, that hotel is quite nice!

what aspirations do you have? Aba: My aspiration is to become very popular in Ghana; and I want to become a banker.

Texyone17 karma

If you could visit any other country in the world, where would you go and why?

Expo_Education8 karma

Janet: Las Vegas, Hollywood Faustina: India, Taj Mahal, Agra Dzifa: Mexico City Frank: Paris Aba: Los Angeles

Iyk16 karma

What's your favourite thing about the country you live?

Expo_Education42 karma

Aba: Ghana is peaceful

Janet: Same

Frank: Ghana is beautiful with many attractive tourist sites and hospitable people

Ashmawi15 karma

Hey guys!

What's your favourite form of entertainment? / Do you use the Internet much?

Expo_Education30 karma

Frank: acting, especially performing a stage act

Dzifa: dancing to local music

Aba: music

Faustina: dancing, especially Indian

Janet: music, especially rapping (favorite artist: Stone Boy)

cmakk101215 karma

This is such a cool AMA! I just wanna know: what types of music do you like?

Expo_Education41 karma

Janet: Foreign gospel; R&B

Frank: Reggae

Faustina: Rap

Aba: Gospel music

Dzifa: Inspirational

intellisuze12 karma

Hello from the US!

what's the most interesting thing you guys have learned from dissection?

Also, what does a normal school lunch look like?

Expo_Education25 karma

what's the most interesting thing you guys have learned from dissection?

Meagan: Please see past response from the kids.

Also, what does a normal school lunch look like?

Elsie: everyone brings their own lunch or buys from the canteen.

Frank: Jollof (Meagan:a tomato-type rice)

Aba: Fried rice

Dzifa: bread and sausage

Faustina: bread and sausage

Janet: brown rice

GabrilliusMordechai10 karma

How do you think is the best way to expand this education into math and English? Also, what's the best way to expand similar programs in Africa?

Expo_Education15 karma

Meagan: Actually, we do offer programs focusing on Math and English outside of the Level Up Village classes we have. Our Peer-to-Peer tutoring programs do this. I encourage you to check out our website to learn more about them or I can answer any questions on that. If your question is about expanding the LUV program model (having partner schools and video exchanges) to include English and Math, there are already classes as well focused on literacy and reading, which we have run with a different school. As well, I think the model is very adaptable to any topic and LUV is always looking to expand on the curriculums.

artemisodin10 karma

What is your favorite holiday or event?

Expo_Education34 karma

Janet: Christmas

Aba and Dzifa: Easter

Frank: Independence Day

Faustina: My birthday

dancenerd10 karma

Hello from Hartford, CT! What are each of your favorite subjects?

Expo_Education11 karma

Dzifa and Faustina: science

Aba: Math

Janet: Basic design and technology (vocational skills) and English, Maths

Frank: Social studies and English, computer science

BobbyMcSmathers9 karma

What kinds of technology do the students get to work with?

Expo_Education19 karma

Elsie: Just the computers.

Meagan: Access to technology can be quite limited in the classrooms and personal lives of the kids we work with. Some high school students have phones, but middle school students rarely have their own technology.

blastoise119 karma

Currently in Kumasi, Ghana, as a volunteer. What are the kids thinking about the upcoming election? When i asked my JHS 2 classes they all wanted the NPP because they dont like the current President Mohama.

Expo_Education15 karma

Some of them like Mahama (NDC), and others prefer NPP, and one is for the PPP! So we have a good mixture here.

Butter528 karma

Such a lovely class! I have a question for the pupils: What 3D printing projects are you planning to do?

Expo_Education15 karma

Elsie: Solar lights and some toys at the end of the program

DonPeriOn3 karma

My mom is from Ghana! It's cool to see programs like this.

Do any of you speak ewe, by any chance?

Expo_Education4 karma

Meagan: Sorry I missed this one before the kids left! I actually don't know this off the top of my head, but it's likely no. All the kids live in Ejisu with their families since they go here, so if they speak Ewe it would be because their parents are from Volta. It's more common to get a diverse group of senior high school kids because most SHS's are boarding schools, so the kids come from all over the country.

JustVan3 karma

Hello from Japan! What is something that you think is largely misunderstood or underepresented by foreigners about your home culture?

Do you like to read books? What are your favorites?

Expo_Education10 karma

What is something that you think is largely misunderstood or underepresented by foreigners about your home culture?

Elsie: That people think we live in trees, but we do not

Frank: That we walk barefooted, but this is not common

Do you like to read books? What are your favorites?

Meagan: Please see the previous response by the kids. Thanks!

m0r1arty2 karma

What are the students favourite Pokemons?

Expo_Education3 karma

Meagan: I don't think they know what that is. Sorry! However, I will note that an expat friend of mine here DOES play Pokemon Go, so there is likely at least some college-aged Ghanaians playing it!

kingdowngoat2 karma

How's the weather?

Expo_Education6 karma

Everyone: It's hot!

ScratchMaster2 karma

What would each of you do with $1 million?

Expo_Education6 karma

Frank: travel

Faustina: build a modern gymnasium for my school

Dzifa: give the country free education

Janet: save it for the future

Aba: get books for myself to enhance my education

hunter159911 karma

Hello from sunny Arizona!

Now that the kids have seen/learned about 3D printing, do they have any new ideas about how it could help families like theirs in developing countries?

Expo_Education4 karma

Aba: Creating solar light kits can provide light for us when there is no electricity. Also, we can print trash bins! (Meagan: lack of electricity and poor waste management are significant challenges here in Ghana and so that is often the focus when it comes to identifying problems to solve in communities).

Ekrank-25 karma

In ATP hydrolysis, which inorganic phosphate is removed when your product from the reaction is ADP + Pi?

A) alpha B) beta C) gamma D) I don't know

Expo_Education19 karma

Meagan: Unfortunately, I think that question is a bit too hard for the group here, so we are going to pick D.