Ghana is renowned for the warmth and hospitality of its people. It enjoys an equatorial climate, and miles of unspoilt coastline. It is an inexpensive country to live in, and has much to commend it as a place to experience. The hubbub of the bazaars, and the liveliness of the street life are things to savour and enjoy.
A population of twenty-one millions squeezes into ninety two thousand square miles. English is the official language; however, the native idioms of Ewe, Ga and Twi survive. The population is seventy percent Catholic, fifteen percent Muslim, and fifteen percent native African religions.
Prospects are good for teachers, with it being perceived to be the case that, in any profession, one will need a good command of the English language. There is no shortage of English medium high schools, where all subjects are taught in English. Also it is part of the curriculum that all high schools teach English. Indeed, the chances of you being accosted and asked to supply English tuition to anybody from taxi drivers to business people to students is really quite high, so don’t be surprised.
For those wishing to teach in a state or private school, there is no requirement for a PGCE or an undergraduate degree in Ghana, though these jobs are few and far between. Most voluntary service organisations (VSOs) insist on a TESOL qualification prior to placing teachers.
Language institutes are not plentiful; however, there are a few. But this is offset by the opportunities to teach in high schools and universities - particularly for the better qualified.
Because of the huge variety of standards in education you can expect a commensurately varied student body. Some will have very little experience; however, others, with more experience in English, will have many years experience in studying English.
Classes tend to be large, but schools are clean, and reasonably well resourced. Students are a joy to teach, and show great enthusiasm for learning English, since it is regarded as a passport to future success.
Visas and Regulations
Your visa entitlements will depend on what your country of origin has set up with Ghana, and it is a good idea to write to your local Ghanaian consulate stating that you intend to teach, and asking what your visa entitlements are. Most of the organizations detailed below will be able to advise you of the current visa requirements. In most cases you will need originals of your educational certificates, a resume or CV. You may also need a medical certificate.
If you plan to just hit the ground with a tourist visa and check things out, it is still worth considering what you have to do to renew your visa. All the way back home, or does a cross-border trip do nicely? How many times can you renew your tourist visa?
Ghana is a sun seeker’s paradise with lots of lovely beaches. Other places worth seeing include Khartoum, the capital, and the Khartoum National Park - a beautiful stretch of unspoilt rain forest, ideal for a bit of trekking and getting back to nature.
Getting a Job
A modicum of preparation prior to setting out will pay dividends. Think of not one country, but the continent of Africa. You may come to value mobility once you hit this part of the world. Hence, it is a very good idea to contact all of the African embassies in your country of origin, enquiring about teaching and visas, and see what you get back. You will find that you have a nice big file folder of leads and information, but will vary from country of origin to country of origin, African embassy to African embassy.
Organizations specific to Ghana include WWOOF/FIOH Ghana, S & S Human Resources Development; and Cross-Cultural Solutions (www.crossculturalsolutions.org). Another good resource is the Yellow Pages (http://www.yellowpages.gh/home/default.asp), and as ever the British Council is worth contacting for advice on local teaching conditions and resources.
For many, getting a job will mean knocking on doors - once again, you will need your certificates. This gives you the opportunity to examine the teaching facilities, class sizes, materials, and, where appropriate, accommodations. Highly-qualified, and more importantly, well-turned-out, organised and enthusiastic teachers are in short supply. If they like you they will most certainly find some teaching for you!
Hence, one of the best and most realistic propositions is to build a working life based around getting a contract and the work permit that will come with it, and bearing mind that revenue from ‘privates’ can double a teacher’s income, one should always be on the lookout for private students, whatever one’s employment or visa status. The market for those wanting private tuition or conversation practice is huge, and potentially very lucrative, therefore, not be neglected. Give yourself time to build a portfolio of work. This is best safeguard to both your income, and employment status.