I am in Ghana studying to earn credits to go toward my higher education degree. That’s right. I completed Elementary, middle school, and high school, and am so close to my college degree I can taste it.

In Africa, while education should be a right it is a privilege. A privilege that I as an African-American sometimes take for granted.

In our first few days here we visited the W.E.B DuBois Center, and on the latter part of our time here we did a community service project for the Krofu community, and there we had the opportunity to see the education system from the perspective of grade level students. We also got a small peek into the campus life and attitude toward higher education by our visits to the University of Cape Coast and the University of Ghana.

One of the largest differences that I saw between the American educational system and the Ghanaian educational system is that in Ghana grade school education is up to the discretion of the parent to choose if the child goes to school and if so to what level they are allowed to complete. There is no requirement that a child must receive a formal education, because of this many children may find themselves at home helping with family responsibilities, both domestic and financial. This trend is one that I saw paralleled with the African American community from generations past. It was very common for a child to drop out of school to be burdened with ‘adult’ responsibilities.

Also there are many things that you cannot learn in books that you must learn from life and experience. There lessons elders in the community have an abundance of. Simply put the weight and dependability that communities have for their elders is reflected in the amount of passed down knowledge and tricks of the trade.

Also, the access to resources is a major problem in some areas of Ghana. While boarding schools are an option for some Ghanaians, what we would call a public school becomes the general route for young Ghanaian children. Here supplies and resources are limited. From textbooks to balls to play with outside the need is evident. In America this is something that can be seen in urban area school districts, where minorities tend to populate the area. The schools are a reflection of the climate of the neighborhoods.

For higher education.. affordability. College is EXPENSIVE. In America the higher the price tag of the institution the more ‘quality’ the education and experience seem to be. Higher education is a market that goes hand in hand with the overall climate of our country. You need an education to get a decent job but higher education is limited to those that can afford it. This creates an uneven playing field of opportunities simply by default.

In Ghana this is different, for those fortunate enough to obtain a higher education there is a certain level of respect that comes with that territory. Professors are held in high regard as well as students and the idea of education is viewed as more a practice as opposed to an unobtainable idea.

If education is key, then America is intent on keeping those doors locked.

~Kristen Phantazia

“Perception is reality, and reality is in my world there is no black and white, only shades of K…”

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