Saturday, August 18, 2012

Fun with Balloons

We had a lot of Danish visitors this summer – volunteers for the Youth Center who wanted to stop by Titagya. One of my favorite memories of the summer was thanks to a bag of balloons that one such visitor brought for the kids. I don’t know if the kids had ever seen balloons before, but they were a huge hit. It was a Friday, so class only lasted from 8-9 a.m. and the students got to play outside until noon. The hype and excitement over the balloons lasted them at least a good half hour (which in kid time seems like an eternity). They even abandoned their precious soccer balls to chase around the balloons!

Due to the wind, most of the balloons ended up flying over the fence surrounding the school, so it would be a mad rush to see who could get to them first. A lot of other women and children walking by thus stopped and watched the whole balloon commotion. I’m sure it was quite a sight for everyone!

Granted, a lot of the balloons popped pretty quickly since it is mostly dirt outside the classrooms, but it was so funny to hear the shrieks of happiness every time a balloon popped. I thought the younger students especially might be a bit frightened at the loud noise, but their faces only expressed the purest glee you could possibly imagine. It was truly amazing to witness how just a simple balloon could bring so much joy, laughter, and smiles to young children.

Monday, August 13, 2012

My Summer with Titagya

Hello, everyone! My name is Clara Kang, and I am a rising senior at Haverford College. Thanks to the generous funding from my school’s Center for Peace and Global Citizenship, I have had the opportunity of a lifetime to intern at Titagya Schools this summer. I spent the past two months in Dalun, and it has been such an incredible journey. I have always had a passion for teaching and for children, and this summer I was able to gain invaluable experience in the classroom. It wasn't always easy trying to teach a classroom full of excited 4-5 year olds that don’t know much English, but this challenge is what made it all so worthwhile. One crucial lesson I learned: patience and perseverance are without a doubt two of the most important attributes in any teacher’s tool belt.

A few weeks ago, I got the opportunity to take over one of the teacher’s classes for the entire week, as he was away attending a workshop. I had previously only taken over a class session here and there, and even that was difficult, as the children weren’t used to me or my teaching style and didn’t respond to me in quite the same way as they did the other teachers. In any case, it was one of the hardest things I have ever done in my life – those were five long days. That week, I was teaching them two-letter words like it, as, if, so, go, to, no…etc. To make matters more difficult, I had to do it entirely in English, whereas the other teachers infused Dagbani (the local language) with their teaching so the young students would understand better.

It was never so bad during the first class session, but by the time 10 a.m. rolled around, many of the kids grew rather restless and rowdy. It was always a struggle trying to keep their attention on the blackboard, to get everyone to respond and repeat the words after me or the student leading the class. It was even harder to try and discipline the students in English, for they couldn’t understand what I was saying, and would just giggle.

At the end of the week, the other teachers commented that it seemed as though the students had finally gotten used to my teaching style, especially to my teaching only in English. I was too busy trying to manage the class that I guess I never noticed it, but I realized they were right. In the end, the students actually learned, and they learned a lot. I taught them almost 20 new two-letter words that the students could identify, spell, and read. When on Friday the students read simple sentences like: “So he is to go” and “I am in it,” I was so, so proud of how far they had come.

In the end, it was a long week, but it was one of the most rewarding weeks I’ve ever had, and it was a week that reminded me exactly why I’m here and why I enjoy doing what I’m doing. Here are some pictures of my time in the classroom:

Sunday, June 10, 2012

June Update!

Hi everyone,

We hope the summer is starting well for you and wanted to update you on the latest at Titagya Schools.  Our team has recently started building our third school in a village called Kpong.  We’re excited at the chance to offer a high caliber of early education in a new community, and to work with our partners there to change young people’s lives.

The community has no early education, many children whose parents want them to go to school, an availability of teachers, and a chief (who used to be a teacher himself) who is passionate about educating his people.  We’ve started creating the concrete blocks that we’ll use to build the 90-student pre-school, and there’s a picture to the right of our management team and local leaders visiting the plot of land.  The school is generously being sponsored by Falcon Investment Advisors. 

We’ve also been gratified to deepen our partnership with Bryn Mawr and Haverford College.  18 Bryn Mawr students and faculty members visited Dalun over their spring break in order to learn firsthand about education in Ghana and to offer their ideas about how we can further enhance our impact (pic below).  The visit took place in relation to an integrated set of Bryn Mawr classes called 360.  Following the trip, Bryn Mawr sponsored a visit by Habib to the US in April to discuss ways we could expand the partnership. 

In addition, we have a great intern named Clara working with us in Dalun over the summer.  She’s a student at Haverford and will be posting on the blog over the course of the summer.  She’ll be focusing on a curriculum development project, serving as a TA in the classroom, and helping with the planning for the school in Kpong.

That’s all for now, but please stay tuned for upcoming posts!  If you’d like to read more about the Bryn Mawr / Haverford partnership, see this article and I was also recently interviewed by our great partners at Givology here:

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Happy New Year!

Nii tee yuu palle (Happy New Year in Dagbani)!!

We hope that 2011 finished well for you. It was a great year for us, as we opened our second school, a kindergarten in Dalun. Our 120 students are enjoying learning pre-reading and basic math skills, as well as developing their creativity and self-confidence through educational games.

We also made changes to our leadership team, including bringing on board Manzah Iddi Habib as our new Managing Director. In addition, we hired a new Project Manager, an Accountant, and two new Teachers. We're proud to have attracted such talented individuals who share our passion for educating young boys and girls in northern Ghana.

We're also greatly looking forward to the rest of 2012, as we seek to build two more schools in northern Ghana. The two schools will be a pre-school and kindergarten in a new village in the region. The first one will be sponsored by Falcon Investment Advisors, a private equity firm in New York, and we are still in the process of asking for contributions for the second.

Thanks for your support over the past year and we can't wait to work with you over this coming year! We hope it's a prosperous one filled with fun challenges for you.

Thursday, November 11, 2010


Take a look at a new video we have up about our work in Ghana. See the students you've been hearing about for so long here:

We're very grateful to our intern, Chris Brandt, as well as Joan Bogden and Yaw Agyenim-Boateng for creating this video.

Friday, October 22, 2010

New York Launch!

Next Tuesday, October 26th we'll be hosting our first major fundraiser in New York. Please join us from 6:30 PM to 9:30 PM at White Rabbit (145 E. Houston St., Between Forsyth St. & Eldridge St.) for a fun night and a chance to raise funds to deliver our services to 60 more students! It'll be a night filled with great people, fun US and Ghanaian music, beautiful silent auction items, and special guests.

You can register or make a donation here:

Please also sign up for our Facebook event group:!/event.php?eid=160222023998367

Thank you!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Initial Impressions of Dalun and of Titagya-Dalun School

The next morning, I began the first official day of my internship. On my way to the school, I started my first walking tour of Dalun, and I met many more residents, some of whom I learned were parents of Titagya students. Those who I encountered frequently struck conversation with me and even invited me inside their homes! Considering that I was still a stranger to everyone there, I was surprised by the humbleness of the environment here in Dalun. The most enthusiastic residents were the children who ran up to me and Alison and shout “deseba!,” or “good morning!” in Dagbani, one of the most widely spoken languages in the Northern Region. Perhaps, coming from a large metropolis where people rarely acknowledge each other’s presence had made living in a remote and homely Ghanaian village seem completely relaxing and secure to me. From that point on, my initial homesickness quickly turned into an affinity for the local culture.

When I finally arrived at the school after navigating my way through a maze of houses, I had made many new acquaintances in a society totally unfamiliar to me. During the morning hours, I learned more about the school’s operations, observed classes during the first and second period, and had an opportunity to meet my other colleagues. The school’s daily schedule consists of two major one hour periods from 8 to 9 am and from 10:30 to 11:30 am with built in rest and playing time included in the scheduled breaks (the times in between periods and from 11:30 to noon). Friday, however, as an extended day of prayer for Titagya’s Muslim students, stands as an exception, and as a result the school grants the students more playtime than on other days.

The school building has two main classrooms, fairly large in size, which hold the two age groups of students: one for younger students (ages 3-4) and another for older students (ages 5-6). Titagya employs two fulltime teachers, Madame Baraka and Abdul-Azeez, and allows Alhassan, a professional teacher who trained at a teaching university in Tamale, to volunteer with the older students. In the younger class, Madame Baraka teaches the English alphabet and beginning English language skills to her students (many children here speak Dagbani as their mother tongue) by using mnemonic devices and educational workbooks. In the adjacent room, the older students sit at their desks in a semi-circle around Alhassan or Abdul-Azeez for their first period Mathematics class. Although the teachers create modules that include topics from various subjects, the main curriculum centers on giving children a firm footing in Mathematics, Informational Computer Technology, and English speaking/grammar skills. One of the major strengths of the curriculum is that it allows kids to enjoy the process of learning by offering a more interactive and participatory classroom environment. Additionally, Titagya believes that rigid teaching styles are counter-productive to the students’ real needs, because such styles do not target the correct methods to stimulate enthusiasm and motivation. Some of the effective styles in practice at Titagya-Dalun School mirrored those I saw at the Gateway School (a Special-Ed school for gifted students where I interned at as a high-school senior).

From my own observations, I was impressed to see how much the teachers and students had achieved in the nine months since the school’s inception. A sizeable number of the students in the younger class could understand spoken instructions and recite poems and songs in English! A handful of students in the older class could read and write English words, and a few of the more precocious students in the group could even understand multiplication and long division! Stay tuned to hear more about my daily experiences as an intern and to learn more about my responsibilities this summer!