Make your own free website on



This is a letter I wrote to the incoming volunteer to BONSEC (Bongo Senior Secondary School) As of yet nobody has replaced me, read it as if you have just entered the Peace Corps as a Teacher, Here is your assignment and this is where you will spend the next two years of your life!

So I guess I will tell you a little about Bongo. Its a lovely village, set back in the strangely out of place rocks that are scattered throughout the area. It is a quick 9 mile ride from the Upper Eastern regional capital Bolgatanga which means anything you could possibly need is easily accessible. To the north is miles of gently rolling Savannah decorated by scattered baobab trees and local clusters of mud thatch huts. I consider the location to be perfect, you can have your culture and live comfortably too! The northern regions of Ghana are very different from the fast development oriented sites in the south. The people are generally a little more laid back and absorbed in some of life's more primitive challenges; that is eating , sleeping and the progeneration of the species! Such a situation is what I discovered I enjoyed the most. The people are still struggling against the physical elements of life and this was the context that I wanted to work in. The area and people are rich in culture and have not been influenced as heavily by the systems some of us desired so urgently to escape. Incidentally, this fact unveils the tricky paradox that we as pioneers of progressive development live at the mercy of: the same "day by day," "play it by ear," lifestyle that we grow to appreciate becomes the main frustrational obstacle in the nature of our work. Here is the challenge that instigates our creativity and nurses our ingenuity. For me, this is what I joined the Peace Corps to discover within myself. Wasn't I supposed to be telling you about Bongo? Believe it or not, I am. These underlying cultural tones that I have been discussing present problems that, no matter how dynamic a person you are, will never be overcome in two short years of work. Bongo Senior Secondary School, where I was teaching, is a new school in a brand new district, that was developed under the Ghana Education Service (GES) in 1991. The students are predominantly from poor farming families who's parents are themselves uneducated and illiterate. There are a number of well established and esteemed boarding schools in close proximity, Bawku, Bolga and Navrongo. Bongo is a day school which quite frankly isn't among the top choices of the qualified in-coming students. Thus the caliber of students is relatively poor. I would never say that the students are not bright, some are incredibly talented, but due to the circumstances of their environment, have never developed their abilities. I was sent to the school to teach Biology. When I entered into my first class with the final year students who were preparing to write their final WAEC (West African Exam Council) examinations at the end of the term, it marked the first time they had ever had a biology master! The science program at Bongo has always struggled. As it stands, it doesn't look as if the school will offer elective science again due to lack of interest and teaching equipment. Out of the seven years Bongo has been offering the elective science stream, not one student has passed. In consideration of these problems and the fact that there are two other foreign service volunteer science teachers, it was clear to the headmaster and I that another biology teacher was not viable. I discussed with him the option of an art teacher and he was very pleased and taken by the idea. The headmaster is very cooperative and is himself interested in the development of a visual arts program. However, currently a visual arts program at the school does not exist. The headmaster is hoping that he will admit students to the program in Jan. of 1998. It would be the courageous challenge of the in-coming PCV to spearhead the visual arts program. The Upper East Region, Bolga area in particular, is the epicenter for all leather works and basket weaving in the country. There are also abundant sources of pure clay as well, but there has been no development of any type of ceramics work. If you are looking for a more contemporary and stable teaching job, I wouldn't choose Bongo, but if you are looking for a dynamic challenge and you want to mix with an extremely open and fascinating culture of people, the village will be beautiful.