On Tuesday 31 August, the British Council Ghana Schools team launched rivers of the world artworks and exhibition at the British Council office in Accra. The purpose of the event was to celebrate and share in the amazing story of rivers projected in six themes (i.e. river of life; river city; resourceful river; working river; river culture; and polluted river). The showcased artworks were curated by pupils from 6 Junior High Schools in the Ningo-Prampram community in the Greater Accra Region with the guidance of a professional artist. The event was honoured by the presence of Ghana’s Deputy Minister of Education, Hon. Rev. Ntim Fordjour who was the guest speaker. In his address, he underscored the importance of using arts to tell our stories especially in promoting environmental consciousness.

The Deputy Minister acknowledged the efforts of the students, teachers and British Council by saying, “today we celebrate the skill, we celebrate the talent, we celebrate creativity [of the students]. We must also thank the British Council for this intervention that touches on a wide range of greater important matters that concerns us today. On our part as a Ministry we will continue to support your many credible interventions and in particular rivers of the world [programme] and to explore how we can take it further, how we can even scale up. [The Rivers of the World Programme] ties in perfectly with one of the very important directions on President Akufo Addo’s education agenda which is Science Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics”.

The Acting Country Director of British Council Ghana, Mr Chikodi Onyemerela who was overly excited about the event also re-echoed the British Council’s commitment to supporting and working with the Government of Ghana to improve quality teaching and learning in schools. Other dignitaries who graced the occasion were FCDO education advisor, Madam Grace Wood, FCDO Climate Change Advisor, Dr. Julian P. Wright, representatives from UNESCO, Ghana Education Service, National Schools Inspectorate Authority, National Council for Curriculum and Assessment and Otumfuo Foundation.

The Rivers of the world programme is a global art and education programme delivered by Thames Festival Trust in partnership with the British Council to enable young people to explore and celebrate their local environment, learn about other cultures and engage with global issues. It also provides fantastic opportunities for pupils to work with talented professional artists to create beautiful river-inspired artworks for public display in London and other cities around the world via physical and online digital exhibitions.  Specifically, the programme supported students and teachers:

  • To develop new skills and knowledge on rivers, art and global citizenship to help them live and work in a global economy.
  • To gain motivation and inspiration for learning through exciting engagement in river-themed content, resources and international collaboration, taking action to tackle global issues in their community and play a part in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.
  • To develop new skills and knowledge on rivers, art techniques and international collaboration that they take into their curriculum teaching.
  • To access high quality learning materials, resources and an international network of peers and best practice.
  • To be well positioned to participate in Connecting Classrooms 2018-22, as they are already working in clusters.

ABOUT THE RIVERS OF THE WORLD PROGRAMME IN GHANA

In November 2019, Ghana was selected to join the 2020-2022 iteration of the Rivers of the World programme. The underlisted six (6) connecting classrooms schools from the Ningo Prampran district education directorate were chosen to represent the country:

  • Old Ningo D/A Basic A School;
  • St Joseph's Anglican '1' Basic School;
  • Dawa Presby Basic School;
  • Afienya D/A Basic School C;
  • Dawhenya D/A Basic School; and
  • Mataheko D/A Basic 'A' School 

Working with a professional artist,120 Junior high school pupils from the 6 schools visited and studied the river volta at Ada Foah through the lenses of six river themes (i.e. river of life; river city; resourceful river; working river; river culture; and polluted river). Following the visit, the artist led a week-long art lessons in the six schools, where the pupils were inspired to creatively channel all their ideas about the river into drawings, paintings, photographs and other visual media. Crucially, climate change related conversations featured prominently in the art lessons. As seen in the final artworks, the pupils were inspired to work on designs that could speak to pertinent issues in their communities and also utilised items easily thought of as waste for artistic repurposing. The pupils were also introduced to the concept of contemporary art and examples of Ghanaian artists doing well on the global stage and how these artists have employed the idea of recycling in their material processes.

With the artworks officially launched, the British Council is utilising both digital and physical platforms to exhibit the six artworks curated by the six Ghanaian schools. The artworks will be available for public viewing at the Greenwich Maritime Museum in London from 01 September – 29 October 2021 and the British Council office in Accra from 01 September – 30 November 2021. For those who wish to view the artworks and enjoy the exhibition virtually, here is the link https://rivers-exhibition.com/ . This is also a short video capturing events that took place during the official launch of the artworks https://fb.watch/7RMnJoxf2Y/