August 3, 2010 — Seeking opportunities to create symbiotic relationships was the goal of an eight-member delegation from Winneba, Ghana, as they visited the University of Virginia's Curry School of Education on Tuesday.
The delegation from Charlottesville's newest sister city has been touring the area since July 22, visiting local businesses, government offices, churches, schools and historical sites, as well as the U.Va. Medical Center.
Because Winneba is home to Ghana's National University of Education, the Curry School was a natural stop on their itinerary, according to Nancy Deutsch, assistant professor in the Department of Educational Leadership, Foundations & Policy, who hosted the luncheon.
"I think we made some connections that will provide for fruitful collaborations between Winneba and the City of Charlottesville and between the Curry School and Ghana's National University of Education in the future," she said.
Francis Joppa, director of the Office of International Relations represented the National University of Education in the delegation.
Most of the school's 32,000 graduate students are preparing to teach. "Ghana has a serious shortage of teachers, especially in the rural areas," he said.
Just under half of their students are going through a traditional four-year degree program. The rest either take only summer classes or earn their degrees through distance education.
Because of acute shortages in subject areas such as mathematics, science, agriculture and French, English and Ghanaian language studies, they have been designated as priority teaching fields.
"Education is getting special attention from the government," Joppa said, because of its potential to impact economic and social development in the country. Incentives to specialize in these subjects include "study leave" from the classroom with three years of full salary for qualified teachers.
Joppa and others in the delegation met and discussed common interests with 10 Curry School professors, most of whom work in the teacher education program.
Also present was David Breneman, the former Curry School dean and Newton and Rita Meyers Professor in Economics of Education, who will visit Ghana during this fall's Semester at Sea voyage.
The Winneba delegation will return home on Wednesday.
Winneba is Charlottesville's only African sister city. The other sister cities are Poggio a Caiano, Italy; Pleven, Bulgaria; and Besancon, France.