Sister Mary Charity Dorcas Banaman Mensah IHM points her cane stick towards the students in her primary three class as she instructs them to begin singing. Sister Charity is one of the few teachers at the Immaculate Heart of Mary Preparatory School who does not believe in using the cane stick on the students. She finds alternative ways, such as giving more homework, to punish students for bad behavior and keep control of the class. Sister Charity taught primary two and three (P2 and P3) this year during the three different terms at the school, which is located in Namong-Offinso in Ghana. Her current class is P3, ages 8-14.
Doris Mantey works on an assignment during class. Mantey is a student in Sister Charity’s primary three classroom.
Bernard Osei Oduro, Tabi Obed, and Ernestina Adu Serwaa work together in groups to complete a class assignment. When they finished they were allowed to leave the room for recess. The children in this class are known as the “pioneers” because they were the very first class at the Immaculate Heart of Mary Preparatory School, which consists of kindergarten 1 and 2 as well as P1-3. The children in Sister Charity’s class will be returning for the 2008-09 school year as they implement a P4 class for the new school year. The school also just celebrated its fifth anniversary on the last day of the 2007-08 school year.
A washing bin in the front of the classroom used to wash hands before lunchtime.
Prince Obeng, one of the disabled students in Sister Charity’s primary three class, sits in the back and talks to another student while completing his work. Most of the disabled students at the Immaculate Heart of Mary Preparatory School live in an eight-bed room at the school and only go home for holidays. They do not receive the care and attention they need at home, for many reasons including time and financial issues, so they live at the school where they receive the best care available.
Samuel Amponsah rests on a table in the back of Sister Mary Charity’s primary three classroom, waiting for his stomachache to subside.
Sister Mary Charity Dorcas Banaman Mensah IHM instructs students about a class assignment before having them work in groups to complete it. Sister Charity has been working at the Immaculate Heart of Mary Preparatory School for three years and teaches both primary two and three (P2 and P3), the equivalent to first and second grades in the United States.
Prince Obeng stands in the doorway of Sister Mary Charity’s classroom while other students work on a class assignment.
Prince Obeng, Edward Mensah Yeboah, Joshua Yeltuo, and Tabi Obed laugh together as they work on completing their class assignment before recess and lunch.
Tables used to collect the pencil shavings when the children sharpen their utensils. Sharpening is done by taking a blade and scraping the ends of the pencils by hand.
Lydia Dufie sharpens her pencils for class by hand with a blade. The students must ask for them each time they need one and the blades are collected after use. They are not collected for safety reasons but because the Immaculate Heart of Mary Preparatory School just received a new school car (bus) and the faculty do not want the children to ruin the seats. There is no fear of the children hurting themselves or others though.
Vanessa Konadu sits on a desk during recess wearing glasses she constructed out of sticks.
A list of the birthdays of faculty and students in primary three hangs on Sister Mary Charity’s classroom wall.
Jennifer Owusu and Amazing Grace Amponsah pose outside of their classroom for a portrait during recess.
Elvis Osei Bonsu picks up his chair to carry to the end-of-the-year assembly practice in the field behind the Immaculate Heart of Mary Preparatory School.
Agatha Akomah and Vanessa Konadu pause to sing lyrics written on the board before attending their end-of-the-year assembly for the Immaculate Heart of Mary Preparatory School.
Immaculate Heart of Mary Preparatory students of all ages exit the school with their chairs to attend their practice assembly held behind the school. The school ranges from kindergarten one to primary three (ages 3-14) and will be implementing primary four into the school for the 2008-09 school year.
Michael Owusu Sekyere, a kindergarten one (KG1) student, exits the school carrying his chair to the assembly practice while Ivans Kusi, a KG1 student, watches from them hall. Kusi will not be part of the end-of-the-year assembly and stays behind while the rest of the school attends practice.
Collaborative piece with Jason Sparks for National Public Radio. Published piece here.