Dr Tillmann Guenthes  — Education Specialist, UNICEF
Dr Tillmann Guenthes — Education Specialist, UNICEF

UNICEF educational interventions worth replicating

The various interventions in the educational sector being piloted by UNICEF Ghana in the Kwahu Afram Plains North and Builsa North in the Eastern and Upper East regions respectively, have made significant changes in learning outcomes among children.

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The interventions being implemented by the Ghana Education Service (GES) were funded by a Zurich-based philanthropic entity, the Jacobs Foundation, through UNICEF Ghana.
The $2.3 million project suppoedrt is being implemented to promote education in the two districts.

Interventions

The 41 interventions under the programme include differentiated learning (DL), complementary Basic Education (CBE) Right Age of Enrollment, trainer of trainers of headteachers and teachers.

Others include literacy quizzes and reading festivals; School performance appraisal meetings (SPAM), empowering students’ leaders; capacity building and empowering school management committees (SMC) as well as parent teacher associations (PTA).

Through the interventions, a total of 72 community teaching assistants (CTA) have been engaged, who are directly paid by the communities to assist in the classrooms since the district is seriously starved of teachers.

In both districts, all basic schools including headteachers and some selected staff participate in the project. Additionally, all District Education Oversight Committees (DEOC) are part of the project.

The aim of the interventions is to engage, train and work with all key education stakeholders in both districts. The interventions have empowered PTAs, SMCs and community members in the piloting districts to take responsibility of schools within their communities by playing crucial roles towards better teaching and learning outcomes.

One of the model outcomes of the empowerment given to PTAs and SMCs to ensure that children in their communities enroll and remain in schools is currently being piloted at the Donkorkrom Presbyterian Basic School, where the PTA and the SMC have introduced a hot cocoa breakfast a day for its pre-school children.

Significant is also the role of the DEOC who have admitted that until the in-service training and workshops facilitated by UNICEF, they were virtually inactive. Thanks to the engagements, the DEOC is currently an active body ensuring better educational outcomes.

The DL, a novel kind of pedagogical approach, assesses children on their level of ability to read and write and not necessarily on their age. Under the DL, which is piloted on English language and Mathematics, groups learners into three categories by level of ability, regardless of age, to provide targeted teaching.

So far, a total number of 195 head teachers and teachers in the district have been trained in the DL pedagogy.

Complementary Basic Education

For the implementation of the CBE, which ended on May 31, 2024, a total of 1,846 children, 788 of whom are girls in both districts were enrolled in the CBE programmes.

William Edward (left), a teacher of the EP Primary at Donkorkrom, taking  Mathematics  Level two learners through differentiated learning

William Edward (left), a teacher of the EP Primary at Donkorkrom, taking  Mathematics  Level two learners through differentiated learning

In the Afram Plains North, a local NGO, Afram Plains Development Organisation (APDO), which led the implementation, has recorded an impressive 751 learners being transitioned into the formal basic school.  

A visit to the district by a team of UNICEF Ghana officials and journalists led by its Education Specialist, Dr Tillmann Guenthes, to witness the round off of the intervention, took the team to various schools piloting the various interventions.

For the CBE, the team visited Teacherkope and Sihu-Norfegali, where the learners, who had completed the nine-month period, demonstrated their prowess. While most of the learners have been enrolled in primary one, some of the exceptional ones got enrolled in primary two and three.

Students’ leadership

One other significant intervention, which involves capacity building of the leaders of the schoolchildren themselves, is a novelty worth replicating in all basic and senior high schools in the country.

Until now, schoolchildren who vie for leadership positions in schools never had any leadership skills before or after been put in office. The UNICEF intervention ensures that all such potential leaders in schools are engaged, taken through the rudiment of leadership to make them better leaders and stand the opportunity of pursuing leadership outside the school compounds and campuses.

For Dr Guenthes, the various interventions in schools in the districts have resulted in a real-time improvement in teaching and learning and UNICEF was excited that it had made a significant impact in the lives of children hard-to-reach communities.

Replication

His belief is that the results being demonstrated in the piloted schools were evidence that those interventions needed to be replicated nationwide, pledging UNICEF preparedness to share its experiences with the management of the GES.

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The truth is that almost all the interventions do not need anything new or addition, thus reinventing the wheels. All that is required is re-engineering, reorienting and conscientizing the resources that are already available.

If nothing at all, the teachers who will be engaged in these interventions can be given some incentives. The fact remains that if properly rolled out, even the PTAs and SMCs can take up the motivation aspect for the teachers.

Just as has been done the piloted areas, other SMCs and PTAs can also resort to engaging senior high school graduates, who are home yet to seek higher education and also university graduates who are yet secure jobs can be engaged under the CTA.

Thankfully, as UNICEF has pledged its readiness to deploy its knowledge in those interventions in the area of technical knowhow, government has no business letting this opportunity slip out of our hands.

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At least, if the interventions cannot be replicated nationwide, the GES has a data that identifies low performing basic schools that can be targeted in this regard. 

Writer’s Email: [email protected]

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