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ISSER explores merits of play-based learning in new study

BY: Kester Aburam Korankye
Professor Peter Quartey, Director of the Institute of Statistical Social and Economic Research
Professor Peter Quartey, Director of the Institute of Statistical Social and Economic Research

The Institute of Statistical Social and Economic Research (ISSER) at the University of Ghana has launched a project to study the implementation of play-based approaches to learning at the pre-primary level in Ghana and Sierra Leone.

The study, known as the IDRC early learning project, and expected to be completed in 18 months, will interview key stakeholders, observe classrooms, and conduct surveys across the two countries to compare early learning centres that are taught by teachers who received the play-based approach training and those that do not have such trained.

The Director of ISSER, Professor Peter Quartey, told the Daily Graphic in an interview that observation indicated that children concentrated more when teachers use the play-based approach to learning hence the importance of the project.

“Children love school, they retain whatever is taught, so we thought we should look at some of the innovations and interventions that have gone into that aspect and see how they are making impact and look at how to scale them up so they can cover other parts of the country,” he said.

He said over the years, the government and its development partners had concentrated on primary and basic education and left early childhood behind although it was an important stage of every child’s education.

“So, that is the motivation to look at that aspect and we also noticed that for many schools, the play-based approach has not been used because of the lack of resources and because teachers have not been trained in how to use the approach to learning,” he said.

Data collection

He said the team conducting the study would review and do exploratory studies to see at firsthand the outcomes of those approaches to learning at the pre-primary level.

“We will see how some of these things are being practised and the issues involved and then based on that we will have a quantitative study as well; data collection to measure impact and evaluate some of these play-based approaches to learning and then have our report to see where we can scale it up and to see where we are doing well and where we are not,” he said.

Prof. Quartey said there would be significant room for collaboration with other stakeholders to make the study more comprehensive so that its outcomes could be adopted by policymakers to inform policy decisions on education.

He said the outcome of the study was also going to inform the innovators of the play-based approaches to improve on their innovations or maintain them.

The Director of Associates for Change, and co-team leader for the project, Dr Leslie Casely-Hayford, told the Daily Graphic, in a separate interview, that the two countries were selected because of the similarity in context in rural and extreme poverty zones.

“What we have learned in Ghana with early childhood education can also help the Sierra Leonean Ministry of Education because the contexts are very similar and, in those contexts, we have to learn how to scale up,” he said.

She said the whole essence of the study was to learn to scale innovations that were working in regard to pre-primary education that was selected across both Ghana and Sierra Leone that has been taken up by the teacher training colleges.