USAID, Ghana collaborates to improve reading abilities

By
Eunice Hilda Ampomah, GNA

Accra, June 11, GNA – The United States
Agency for International Development (USAID) in partnership with the Government
of Ghana on Tuesday disseminated a reading evaluation report in Accra to
improve on the reading abilities and conceptual understanding of mathematics in
basic schools.

The step was undertaken after the two bodies
had implemented a year-long “Early Grade Math and Reading Pilot Programme” to
ascertain the performance of students in the areas of Math and English
language, identify the hindrances that contributed to the low performances of
students and generate ways to control them.

The evaluation programme used an independent
randomised control trial to measure changes in students’ conceptual
understanding and performing basic math skills as well as their ability to
read.

The purpose of evaluation was to provide
evidence of early grade reading programme implemented at scale and to show how
mother-tongue programme performs in a multi-lingual implementation context.

The evaluation programme studied 7200
schools from 100 districts across the country.

Mr Mohammed Dawuda, a Representative of
USAID with the Evaluating Systems who presented the findings said per the
evaluation, the performance of students went down whenever they were hungry
while in school or when punished by teachers.

He said it also showed that students in
rural areas did not perform better than students in schools in the urban areas,
adding that, female students performed better than the male.

The evaluation programme, also identified
that schools in which teachers and students were enthusiastic about reading saw
the students performing well in reading.

Mr Dawuda noted that the overall language
match of schools assessed indicated that 59 per cent had high language match
which meant that only 59 per cent could understand what they were being taught
in the English Language.

He said 29 per cent of the students had
medium language match while 12 per cent had low language match and could not
wholly understand what they were being taught in the English Language.

At the end of the evaluation programme, a
significant impact was made as both male and female students improved on their
conceptual understanding of mathematics and gained more ability to perform
basic math skills and read, he said.

Mr Dawuda urged the Ministry of Education
and the Ghana Education Service (GES) to provide a more targeted support to
non-readers and address school resource levels, students’ assets, and teachers
use of punishments.

To promote the use of standard and empirical
data to inform decisions, he called on decision makers to work together to
ensure that data collected at the district, regional and national levels in
relation to education in the country had integrity and was consistently
collected.

He reiterated that it was necessary to
develop strong data systems to promote data use, not just for reporting, but
for planning and performance management.

“While some data is available at the
regional level on learning outcomes, those assessments do not provide data that
can be consistently used for performance management at the district, school and
teachers’ levels,” he said.

He advised the GES to ensure that every
teacher had a unique Identification number that is consistent within and across
all Education Management Information System data tables and human resource
databases.

Dr Yaw Osei Adutwum, the Deputy Minister of
Education said the data collected from the longitudinal study had helped
government to know how students were performing, the challenges they faced and
the exact areas which needed urgent attention in the educational setting.

“We have also gotten to know that when
children are well fed, they are more likely to do very well in school so we
will re-look at how to expand the School Feeding programme to get the intended
results,” he said.

The Deputy Minister noted that it had been
observed that more girls were participating in the ongoing Basic Education
Certificate Examination (BECE) in the Upper East Region than boys, a change he
said called for celebration on progress in the fight for gender parity in the
country’s educational system.

Dr Adutwum said in the Greater Accra Region,
there were 4,000 more girls writing the BECE than boys which was a true
reflection of girls doing well in the educational system.

He said the data had also shown that girls
in mixed sex schools performed better academically than boys, therefore, the
evaluation programme was necessary to ascertain whether it was because there
were more female teachers in the schools or because female students were given
more attention or resources to study with.

He commended the USAID for the step
undertaken to enhance the Ghanaian educational system and gave the assurance
that government was ready to support the Agency in that regard.

GNA

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