Are schools in Ghana superior to those in other countries? Plus, two other exciting findings...

Welcome to our weekly blog for Teacher Tapp Ghana!

Every Monday we summarise our most surprising and interesting survey findings from the week before. This weekly blog provides an easy way for you to learn about the experiences and opinions of teachers across Ghana.

Please encourage your colleagues to use the Teacher Tapp app to keep engaged with education even when they’re not teaching. Your responses are also a vital data source that GES will be using to help in their decision-making around best policies and approaches to managing the current crisis.

If you’d like to bring more teachers to Teacher Tapp, please share this blog with your colleagues and encourage them to use the download links at the bottom of the page. In the mean time, here are this week’s intriguing findings…

1. Your weekly update on social distancing

It’s been a week since stronger social distancing measures were instituted across Ghana. While the Greater Accra region is currently subject to a total lockdown, the rest of Ghana is being urged to only leave home when absolutely necessry.

How have teachers been managing?

Last week, 70% of you told us that you were finding social distancing quite easy to do. We speculated that this might because teachers were not practicing very strict social distancing.

When we polled you this week, nearly 40% of you told us that you had left the house that day.

This figure seems very high for any community practicing strict social distancing. However, we didn’t specify the reason you left the house – you could have been leaving to get food or medicine.

1-in-3 of you also told us that you had seen neighbours leaving the house when you don’t believe they had a good reason to. Of course, we left it ambiguous as to what a ‘good reason’ might be. Nonetheless, these two findings suggest that some of the population of Ghana – teachers included – are not practicing strict social distancing.

As we discussed last week, social distancing poses a particular challenge for Ghanaian society which is highly social and community-based. Social distancing, as a way of reducing infection, has largely been designed for western countries where infrastructure makes such practices much easier. As such, it will be an interesting and ongoing challenge to see how Ghanaians continue to adapt to new social norms.

2 . Ghana vs. the rest of the world

Schools across the world have quite a bit in common. For one thing, the vast majority of them are closed right now!

But there are also plenty of differences between schools and education systems across the world. Which leads to a natural question – which ones are better?

We asked you how you thought schools in Ghana compared to schools in the rest of the world. Nearly 40% of you said you believe that Ghana’s education system is superior to that of most other countries in the world.

Only a small number of you strongly held this belief in Ghana’s educational superiority and 16% had no strong feeling either way. This suggests some level of doubt and hesitancy in your response.

However, there was less doubt and hesitancy when we limited the scope of comparison to just other countries within Africa. When we did this only 1-in-5 of you stated that you do not believe Ghana has a superior education system to other Africa countries. Meanwhile, 60% of you stated the opposite.

We wondered whether this result may be due to low opinions of the quality of educational systems across Africa in general. We also wondered whether the greater degree of confidence may have been caused by teachers having had some experience of working in other schools in neighbouring African countries.

But here’s the funny thing. When we polled you to ask how many of you have ever taught in a school outside of Ghana, only 4% of you said that you had!

Which leads to the question – what are you basing your opinions of schools in other countries on? If you’re not basing them on personal experience, are you basing them on things that you’ve read or heard? We’d love to find out more! Please email baz@teachertapp.co.uk to let us know your sources.

These results might also highlight a common bias in human judgment: we tend to view ourselves – and our country by extension – as superior to others in most respects. This applies even when we don’t have good evidence to justify this belief. Don’t worry, this is perfectly common. We are human after all!

3 . Boys vs girls?

Across the world, girls tend to do better academically than boys. The only difference between countries seems to be at what age girls start to perform better.

This finding has caused lots of speculation as to why this difference exists. Perhaps girls are naturally more intelligent? Perhaps boys have too much energy to be well-suited to school?

One popular idea is that girls tend to have more agreeable personalities which makes them easier to teach. Because they are easier to teach, they end up getting taught more effectively and therefore doing better in school.

Although it is just an idea, we wondered whether this idea matched your own personal experience. So we asked you if you found one gender easier to teach than the other. To our surprise, the vast majority of you told us that you did not.

Those who did express a preference for a gender tended to specify boys rather than girls. Why might this be?

There could be all sorts of explanation for this pattern and we’d need more data before we could do a more detailed analysis. But with recent efforts in Ghana to make sure teachers are offering as high a standard of education to girls as to boys, it was positive to see that teachers are trying to maintain gender neutrality in their treatment of young people. Well done for being so progressive!

4. Finally, we know you’re finding our daily readings useful, so here are all of the ones from last week…

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