My friend Michael Boampong who I wrote about here and who blogs here, this year went to my Alma Mater, Uppsala University to do his masters in Development Studies.
The university newspaper, Ergo, had a chat with him (in Swedish) (but see the Google Translate page in pretty decent English) and he had some interesting insights.
On comparing education between Ghana and Sweden:
– If you compare Ghana and Uppsala, you should think outside the box here, while in Ghana is more about memorizing things. I’m very happy with my studies now, but did not think I had enough knowledge about the political background to be able to take me to the teaching of beginning. I would have liked to have had an introductory course in political background before the first course started.
– Uppsala was my first choice, I had it recommended by a friend from Ghana who reads this. It is a well-known university abroad. I think it’s very good to invite prominent speakers from outside and that you have access to literature and new publications.
On the much debated issue of fees for foreign students (yes, higher education has until now been FREE OF CHARGE), from next semester a reality:
– I come from a developing country and had been poorly paid when I worked in Ghana, simply put not the life-situation that is required. But I must say that my experience from Ghana enriches discussions on the course – this can be missed when introducing tuition fees and not having an extensive system of grants for students from developing countries.
Read the article in full here.
Yesterday, I met up with two students coming to do their minor field study (MFS) in Ghana.
MFS is almost an institution in Swedish academic circles. Since 1968, MFS is a stipend financed from Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA), administered by the International Programme Office for Education and Training (in Swedish: Internationalla Programkontoret) in collaboration with higher educational institutions in Sweden. The goal with the program is to expose young university students to life in developing countries and give them an experience of doing research there. The student has to propose a research plan and spend at least 8 weeks in the chosen field destination. The stipend covers travel expenses and a little more. Over the years more than 10 000 students have gone through the program. Recent theses coming out of the program since can be found in this MFS Thesis Database. Usually, the program is very popular and highly competitive.
Back to yesterday afternoon. I first took Emma and Ebba to eat some fufu and drink some bissap at Buka. We talked about everything from clinics to corruption, from surveys to soup, from PhD to perfect beaches. After washing our hands, we went around to do some errands, see some Ghanaian art and crafts and finished the day with a drink by the beach. I could see myself in them – the personal involvement in student activities, the interest in the foreign and exotic, the wonderful curiosity. I was impressed with their confidence and their future goals.
Emma and Ebba are not the first MFS students I take around Accra. They follow Emilie, Asa, Jessica and Ulrik – all MFS students who I have met in Ghana. To some I have been a contact person, an address to put on the VISA application, to others “Field Supervisor” and a discussion partner. I must say I enjoy spending time with them and gladly share what ever small knowledge on research I possess as well as my own experiences in this green country.
Ironically, my own MFS application was not approved when I was studying for my Bachelor’s Degree. But that is another story.
Final exams mark the end of the academic calendar. Today I am holding my final exams.
For someone who has been a student a larger part of her life, it is interesting being on “the other side”. However in a way it is paradoxically quite similar. I mean, I have studied too for this, putting together an exam is not that easy. Also, I am feeling a wee bit nervous (will questions be understood? Will they all remember to come to Lecture Hall 4 and 5? Will the exam booklets be enough?).
Of course, I will not be taking the exam, but spend two hours perfecting the grading rubric.
So, I guess the biggest difference between being a lecturer and a student is when the students walk out of the lecture hall at 3 PM today, their semester is over, but I still have a week of grading to do…