Hershey Connecting U.S., Rural Ghanaian School Children

Social studies class at Milton Hershey School in Pennsylvania shares cultural experiences with students in Assin Fosu, Ghana.

The Hershey Co. plans to continue through the end of the 2013 school year its successful Hershey Learn to Grow Ghana Distance Learning Program, a unique distance learning program launched last fall.

The program links school children in Hershey, Pa., and Ghana through real-time, high-definition technology that creates a common, virtual classroom experience.

The program allows approximately 80 middle school students in classrooms on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean to connect and share cultural experiences. The Milton Hershey School students connect to the students in Assin Fosu, Ghana, a rural town located in the Central Region, from The Hershey Story, The Museum on Chocolate Avenue in downtown Hershey, Pa.

This semester, teachers are encouraging the students in Hershey, Pa., and Assin Fosu, Ghana, to research selected topics of interest, plan how to engage in the topic and then lead parts of the actual live classroom sessions.

“We are excited about this new approach, which is less teacher-driven and will allow the children to lead the sessions, directly engage with each other and truly share the best of their cultures,” said David Bruce, sixth-grade social studies teacher at Milton Hershey School. “We believe this new approach will be more meaningful and provide a deeper understanding for the students of what it’s like to live in each country.”

During the spring semester, students will cover a range of topics that will enable them to explore each other’s culture and country’s practices. For example, one session covers “festivals” and looks at how and why each country celebrates important cultural events or special occasions. In another session, students in Ghana plan to talk about how children are named in their country and the cultural significance of different names.

During the sessions, students in each country will also share individual talents, such as singing or dancing, and students will have a question and answer segment to delve into what it is like to live in their respective countries.

The Hershey Learn to Grow Ghana Distance Learning Program is a first-of-its-kind live distance-learning program for primary-age students. It was developed in collaboration with Milton Hershey School, the M.S. Hershey Foundation and The Hershey Story museum, Cisco, and African partners that include the Assin Fosu school, Ghana Education Service, Ghana Cocoa Board and Source Trust. Hershey is the largest U.S. chocolate maker and Ghana is a world leader in cocoa production.

The program was originally slated for eight modules over two months in October and November of 2012. Based on the success of the distance learning program last fall, the partners decided to extend the program through the full academic year and are exploring opportunities to further expand the program. The program was made possible through a unique public/private partnership among The Hershey Company, Cisco Systems, Milton Hershey School, The Hershey Story museum and Source Trust.

“We are delighted to be a part of a program that is engaging children across borders to learn from each other collaboratively,” said Nicko Debenham, director, development & sustainability at Source Trust. “We think the benefits will be felt in both the U.S. and Ghana.”

The Ghana Distance Learning Program is one component of a comprehensive set of programs implemented by The Hershey Co. to engage with cocoa communities, accelerate farmer and family development, improve the lives of cocoa families, and reinforce cocoa sustainability in West Africa, where 70% of the world’s cocoa is grown. Over the next five years, The Hershey Co. will expand and accelerate programs to improve cocoa communities by investing millions of dollars in West Africa and continuing to work with experts in agriculture, community development and government to drive long-term change in cocoa villages where families will benefit from the investments in education, health and economic opportunities.

In October 2012, Hershey announced its commitment to use 100% third-party certified cocoa by 2020 for all of its chocolate products sold around the world.

For more information about Hershey’s cocoa sustainability programs in West Africa, please see: www.HersheyCocoaSustainability.com.

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