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US$71m to Bolster Basic Education


More school going children at the basic level are expected to improve on their reading and overall literacy rate with the launch of a partnership between USA and Ghana for education dubbed, Learning.

Learning is a five-year US$71million partnership between the United States Government, through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Ministry of Education (MoE), the Ghana Education Service (GSE) and FHI 360, a non-governmental agency, focused on education, health, economic development and research and technology.

Expected to reach over 51,000 teachers and 2.8million children from kindergarten to primary 3 in the country, Learning is a national project that seeks to help meet Ghana’s basic education priorities and aims at improving early grade primary school literacy and exploring ways to improve numeracy.

The project will take a ‘learning by doing’ approach in which the Learning team will work closely with the staff at the MoE/GES to leverage existing strengths and increase the capacity of the MoE/GES to support reading excellence on a national scale.

The Learning project will see the selection and preparation of 11 local languages, as official languages of instruction, develop a language of instruction policy, restructure the primary school timetable to provide more time for reading, and drafting a Reading Action Plan for Ghana.

According to the 2014 Early Grade Reading Assessment, most pupils in Ghana are performing poorly in reading and numeracy. The report states that in general only the top 2percent or fewer were able to read with fluency and comprehension.

Education Minister, Professor Naana Jane Opoku-Agyemang, stressed that government wants to change that alarming statistic and turn 80percent of early grade children into readers.

She noted that the joy of every stakeholder in the education fraternity is to see children reading in the local language and or the English Language and be able to show mastery in basic numeracy.

“When a child is able to read comprehensively in any setting, either to the literate or those not so privileged, the joy ripples to all, and the credit go to the effective teacher, the proud parent and the approving public.”

She added that increasing the text book to three children in 2013 to four text books to one child in 2014 remains a highlight.

“We urge heads of schools and teachers not to withhold books from children for fear that they will ruin them. It is more costly to the learner and society even in the short run when the young learner does not learn to read.”

She therefore assured of the ministry’s continued collaboration with the USAID in implementing this five-year technical assistance and capacity building support project.

Learning, according to the US Ambassador to Ghana, Gene A. Cretz, will bolster Ghana’s education sector, both human and institutional capacity, to improve teaching excellence in early grade reading, support education systems to sustain reading outcomes and engage communities and parents to promote reading.

Over the past decades, the country has achieved significant progress in increasing enrolment but continues to struggle with improvements in quality primary education.

The Ambassador noted that there is a growing body of literature showing direct correlation between the ability to read and the quality of education. “Studies show that children who can read in the early grades perform better academically in later years; that a child born to a mother who can read is 50 times more likely to live past five year old.

“Adults who can read are more engaged citizens and more likely to vote; and that literate adults earn higher wages than those who cannot read. What all these simply mean is that to do development right, to build a safe, healthy, democratic, and prosperous nation, we have to go back to the foundation: education. And the foundation of any solid education starts in its early grades,” he said.

Mr. Cretz noted that globally, the USA has set a target of helping 100 million children to read. “We are proud to support the Government of Ghana’s effort to improve, expand and sustain reading performance of children in Kindergarten 1 to Primary 3”, he said.

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