Teaching about Malaria

Teaching about Malaria discusses the need to improve teaching on the subject of malaria in Ghana's Northern Region based on research work done in Tamale in July to August 1999, as well as some general knowledge about the region from one year of teaching experience in Tamale International School 1995-1996.

Orientation "Teaching about Malaria"

Project Outline
- Background: Interviews
- Background: Talks to Teachers / Book Review
- Background: Teaching Materials
- Problems
- Acknowledgments

Interviews "Malaria" (additional page)
Talks to Teachers / Book Reviews (additional page)
How to teach about Malaria (additional page)
Materials for Teachers (additional page)

References (in German)
NEW: Websites and Audiovisuals

Back to Homepage Matthias Giger

Project Outline

During a four year training course in the College of Secondary Education of St. Gallen I decided to produce a CD-ROM / web page on the internet in German to fulfill part of the normal study requirements. As a spin-off and due my personal teaching experience at Tamale International School in the Northern Region of Ghana in 1995 - 1996 a project "Teaching about Malaria" was launched base on a three step approach: 1. Interviews to review the knowledge of the local population concerning malaria. 2. Talks to teachers and a review of books. 3. The writing of actual teaching materials for interested teachers. The problems caused by the approach are discussed at the end of this page.

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Background: Interviews

The goal of the interviews was to gain some insight into the knowledge about malaria of an urban population. As I had some previous experience with the conditions in the examined part of Ghana, only a few interviews were conducted, covering a basic set of questions concerning the symptoms, the treatment and the prevention of malaria, as well as ways of infection and to a lesser extent the way schools cover the topic. Most additional information was gathered by informal talks to people who I was able to meet several times. All in all information from about twenty people were collected. Three full interviews and a summary of the other talks can be found under "Interviews".

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Background: Talks to Teachers / Book Review

The interviews I took suggested that people in Tamale didn't know much about malaria — excluding medical staff who are confronted with malaria every day. First, it was planned to approach teachers at different levels of the educational level. However, I was told by several teachers that apart from a few basic pieces of information — as the importance of the mosquito — the topic was not covered well in schools. On suggestion of these teachers a different approach was chosen. I made contact with the science department of two of the senior secondary schools in Tamale and thus, I could talk with people in charge of the Science and Biology courses respectively. I also had the opportunity to look through the two basic textbooks used in the Biology courses on that level. I was told I could get more comprehensive information at the Nurses Training School, but considering this institution as a medical institution I abstained from visiting it.  The most important points of the information which were provided by the science teachers can be found under "Actual Teaching in Schools".

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Background: Teaching Materials

Right from the beginning of the project I planned to write some teaching material for teachers interested in the topic of malaria. Considering the information provided by the teachers I talked to, there was no obvious reason why I shouldn't  write the material, especially as a part of it was already available in German and only needed translation and little revising. In order for the lessons to comply with local teaching customs, the generally used approach for lesson planning in Ghana was inquired. As most of the topic is not directly a part of the usual curriculum tested by the West African Examination Council, an effort was made to present the materials in a way, which would help the teacher to fulfill the expectations of supervisors as well as of students. Also the content of the commonly used Biology and Chemistry textbooks, especially the "GAST Biology for Senior Secondary Schools" have been taken into consideration. At the moment all materials are about to be revised and tested by teachers in Ghana and upon that should be improved where needed. The methods used in the lesson planning and further information are given under "Teaching Materials" and the lessons and background information can be found under "Materials"

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As in other African countries, Ghana has an official language, English, which is used in many classrooms. Nevertheless, a sizable part of the population neither speaks fluent English nor have they had a complete school education.

Thus, every approach to further the teaching about malaria in schools would not better the knowledge of the people most in need of it. It may therefore be regarded as a waste of time to write teaching materials for schools on the topic of malaria. But in my view, this is clearly not the case.

Just because one is not able to change the big problems in one part of the population, it doesn't mean one should stop trying to improve the situation in a small way, where it is possible. And as a teacher with years of educational training as well as some teaching practice and some knowledge about malaria I think I can make a contribution to enable others to fulfill their duty in the classroom, hoping that somebody else may attack the problems, I myself can't solve.

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I would like to thank all the people who have made this project possible. Special thanks go to Prof. Dr. Frischknecht, professor for microbiology at the University of Zürich and Biology professor at the College of Secondary Education of St. Gallen who has spent much of his precious time to advise me and has made many valuable suggestions. Special thanks also go to Mr. Kofi Abbam, Head of the Science Department of Vittin Technical Secondary School, who has enlighted me on lesson preparing practise in Ghana as well as Mr. E. A. Yakubu, Biology teacher at Ghana Senior Secondary School (GHANASCO) both in Tamale. Additional thanks go to Mr. Amin, an agroforestry advisor, who has provided information on local treatment of malaria, and my wife, who has provided translation whenever it was needed and shown much patience, as well as to all Ghanaian relatives and friends who contributed to the research work.

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Comments, suggestions or corrections, especially from Ghanaians, people from the teaching field or in malaria research to mattgig@freesurf.ch are most welcome.

Matthias Giger, August 1999 (Update: 20.07.2005)