A literacy project introduced by mining firm, Asanko Gold Ghana Limited, in conjunction Canadian Organisation for Development through Education (CODE), and the Ghana Book Trust some six years ago, appears to have yielded tremendous results, turning the fortunes of students in rural communities around with an enhanced reading culture demonstrated by a thrilling contest among schools from Amansie South district of the Ashanti region.
From their initial inability to pronounce words properly, to lack of confidence and the art of public speaking, the students swept officials off their feet with an unimaginable exhibition of confidence and finesse in their delivery at Manso Abiram in the Amansie South district.
Kumpese Akwasiso D/A, one of the thriving schools in the area, lived up to the billing grabbing the topmost price at the Junior High School level and finished second at the primary level.
Kumpese Akwasiso D/A won the JHS contest with 36 points, followed by Koninase Nkran D/A, 32, while Domi-Keniago D/A "B" with 30 points.
And at the primary level, Koninase Nkran D/A won with 49 points, Kumpese, 43, and Domi-Keniago was third also on 43 points.
They competed in the spelling of words, pronunciation, answering questions from a prescribed reading book, reading and a test of their vocabulary.
Dora Addai and Abdul Fuseni Ganin won it for Koninase Nkran while Paul Mensah and Mercy Aniwaa Kyei won it for Kumpese.
The literacy project which is in its final year per the agreement with CODE, covers Amansie West and South as well as the Atwima Nwabiagye districts of the Ashanti region.
The competition is expected to be replicated across all the catchment areas where Asanko operates as it seeks to negotiate for an extension.
In a way to motivate the students, the Executive Vice President and Managing Director of Asanko, Mr Frederick Attakumah doled out a personal laptop to Kumpese Akwasiso for winning the JHS contest.
Each participating school also took home 100 exercise books each with boxes of pens as well certificate of participation.
The Unit Manager, Land Access and Social Investment of Asanko, Mr Kwabena Kwaakye, said the competitions were meant to evaluate the project and have a better appreciation and feedback from both students and community leaders.
He said so far, 12,000 reading materials have been distributed to schools since the programme started covering 40 schools in five cohorts.
Asanko together with CODE has furnished about 20 school and community libraries with furniture and has also trained about 150 librarians and teachers who in turn have trained a number of their colleagues.
The Executive Director of the Ghana Book Trust (GBT), Genevieve Eba Polley, said reading was crucial to the overall development of any human being and it's even more important to students because reading and writing formed the basis of their advancement.
She expressed the hope that the programme will be sustained "because what I have seen today had amazed me."
Asanko Gold, is spending more than GHS 1.85 million in the catchment area under the project.
It covers some 32 public primary and Junior High Schools and 150 teachers.
In the first phase which began in 2016 eight schools were randomly selected and provided with direct reading materials to promote reading and writing.
An additional eight school were selected for the second phase and were each handed a box of 400 reading materials.
CODE is a community non-profit organization.