About 700,000 pupils in the country are benefiting from a phonics-based approach to reading, the Acting Deputy Chief of Mission at the United States (US) Embassy in Ghana, Ms. Virginia Elliott, has disclosed.
This follows the rollout of a literacy programme by the United States Agency for Development (USAID) for children in Kindergarten to primary three across the country.
The programme, which is in collaboration with the Ghana Education Service (GES) and is focused on getting the pupils to be able to read in 11 local languages, forms part of the US government’s education and literacy priority project in Ghana.
Speaking at the launch of the 15th edition of the National Spelling Bee Competition in Accra on the theme, “15 years of unravelling the literacy of spelling”, Ms. Elliott indicated that the USAID had distributed more than three million teaching and learning materials for students, educators, and administrators across the country to improve reading competency among children.
The Spelling Bee literacy programme, organised by the Young Educators Foundation (YEF), aims to equip students with language concepts and life skills that will be useful to them all their lives.
The organisers in their quest to ensure an inclusive education have accommodated students with special needs at the Akropong School for the Blind, and the Tetteh Ocloo State School for the Deaf into the programme.
The US Embassy’s partnership with The Spelling Bee programme, Ms. Elliott said, had benefited over 10,000 Ghanaian students as a result of an extension of the programme to students from rural communities in the Northern and Volta regions, providing opportunity for underserved students.
A former Minister of Education, Ms. Elizabeth Ohene, who was a guest speaker at the event, expressed regret that the programme was being seen as more of entertainment value, when it could be accepted as an academic subject by relevant stakeholders.
The Dean of the School of Communications Studies of the University of Ghana, Legon, Prof. Audrey Gadzekpo, who also spoke at the event, pointed out that spelling bees were not just fun competitions; rather, it bore a reminder that the larger aim of spelling was to help people to better appreciate the correct act of assembling words, “since they are one of the essential elements of writing”.
A Deputy Minister of Education, Mrs. Gifty Twum-Ampofo, in her remarks, commended the organisers for the inclusion of students with special needs into the programme which, she said, would significantly improve their capabilities.
The Executive Director of the YEF, Mrs. Eugenia Tachie-Menson, in her welcome address, said that the programme in its 14 years of existence had painstakingly unravelled the literacy of spelling by demystifying the rather dreaded matter of spelling, and doing so correctly.