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Anglophone countries meet over building resilient educational system

BY: Doreen Andoh & Faith Ayorkor Mensah
Rev. John Ntim Fordjour (4th from right, front row), Deputy Minister of Education, with the participants
Rev. John Ntim Fordjour (4th from right, front row), Deputy Minister of Education, with the participants

Representatives of five Anglophone countries are meeting in Accra to discuss how to sustain the gains of a United Nations project on building a resilient educational system.

The project was initiated by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) and Nigeria, Liberia, Sierra Leone, The Gambia and Ghana have been selected to implement it.

The COVID-19-occasioned project is being implemented in partnership with the Global Partnership for Education (GPE), a fund focused on bringing quality education to children in lower-income countries.

It has been dubbed the UNESCO-GPE Anglophone West Africa COVID-19 Education Response Project.

The project is aimed at supporting the targeted English-speaking West African countries through interventions such as adaptation, scaling and rapidly deploying a regional platform for distance and blended learning, strengthening regional cooperation and pooling resources for the development and diversification of educational resources.

The two-day experience-sharing workshop, which started yesterday, has brought together teachers, officials of UNESCO, national commissions for UNESCO and the Education ministries of the five countries to discuss issues relating to digital learning, particularly an online learning platform that UNESCO and the GPE have supported the countries to develop.

At the workshop, a Deputy Minister of Education, Rev. John Ntim Fordjour, said the project was one of several UNESCO projects being implemented in Ghana and which were contributing immensely to the government’s efforts at integrating information and communications technology (ICT) into the country’s educational system at all levels.

“I wish to express my profound gratitude to UNESCO for its COVID-19 educational response that ensured continuity of learning in many countries, including Ghana, during the peak of the pandemic.

“For example, under the UNESCO-Korea Funds in Trust (KFIT) project, UNESCO has collaborated with the Centre for National Distance Learning and Open Schooling (CENDLOS) and the Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT) to organise training programmes for teachers on Emergency Remote Teaching (ERT) techniques in four regions, namely, the Greater Accra, Ashanti, Northern and Western, and recently in Salaga, the East Gonja Municipal capital in the Savannah Region.

“The ERT has equipped many teachers with basic skills on how to use online tools to more effectively facilitate teaching and learning,” he said.

Government commitments

Rev. Fordjour assured the participants of the government’s commitment to collaborate with UNESCO and other development partners to achieve the Sustainable Development Goal Four of ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning.

The Head of Office and UNESCO Representative to Ghana at the UNESCO-IICBA Experience Sharing Workshop, Abdourahamane Diallo, said the workshop was one of the closure activities under the project.

The project, he said, was one of many COVID-19 educational response projects that UNESCO had developed to support its member states to ensure continuity of learning.

The Country Director for UNESCO, Ethiopia, Dr Yumiko Yokozeki, said the UNESCO International Institute for Capacity Building in Africa (IICBA), situated in Addis Ababa, had been tasked to handle the teacher training component of the GPE Anglophone West Africa Project.

“The institute has designed a regional platform for distance and blended learning, named imaginelearning.africa. The platform was initially expected to enrol 1,000 teachers,” she said, adding that so far 21,632 teachers had been enrolled in the five countries, out of which 4,007 were from Ghana.

The impact of the project included the establishment of the regional online learning platform, imaginelearning.africa, which contains 10 Technical Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPACK)-based teacher training modules with restricted access for external users, she added.

She said over 19,000 teachers had so far enrolled and taken the courses in the five countries.

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