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Education Ministry, USAID distribute 4 million books to schools

BY: Doreen Andoh

A programme to distribute four million reading books in English and a Ghanaian language to public primary schools in all 216 districts of the country has been rolled out by the  Ministry of Education (MoE) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). 

 

The $70-million programme is aimed at improving the reading skills of approximately 2.8 million primary schoolchildren.

It is being implemented under the USAID and the MoE partnership for education: learning which was launched in 2015 to improve the quality of teaching, reading and learning in Ghana.

The books are expected to provide more access to reading materials and enrich the reading environment for pupils from kindergarten to primary three nationwide.

It is also to enhance educational policies and management systems and strengthen the capacity of parents, schools and local government to promote reading from the basic school level.

Programme launch 

Launching the programme in Accra yesterday, the US Ambassador to Ghana, Mr Robert Jackson, said the initiative was to support the government to encourage children to develop their reading skills and stimulate parents and guardians’ interest in early grade reading, both in English and Ghanaian languages.

He said the importance of the programme could not be overstated because a literate and educated population drove development and built a nation.

“But in 2013, a test conducted showed that the vast majority of Ghanaian primary school pupils are unable to read with fluency,” he added 

Mr  Jackson expressed delight that the situation was gradually changing as a result of the USAID’s partnership with the MoE, among other reasons. 

“I have been humbled to see the fruits of our close partnership with the MoE. We have also provided more than 450,000 books to upper primary pupils and trained more than 18,000 teachers to use the new books to improve literacy,” he added.

He said as part of the initiative to improve reading among pupils, reading festivals were held in all 10 regions, bringing together teachers, pupils, traditional leaders and community members for story-telling sessions, performances, spelling bees, among other activities.

Spelling Bee champion 

Mr Jackson said he was pleased to have met with Afua Ansah, the 14-year-old Ghanaian champion of the National Spelling Bee.

“Just two weeks ago, Afua competed with the best spellers in the world  in Washington, DC, and became the first Ghanaian to make it to the finalist round of the prestigious Scripps Spelling Bee,” he added.

He said he watched as Afua represented Ghana and Africa admirably and expressed the belief that she had inspired children all over the country to boost their reading skills.

Government grateful

Receiving the books on behalf of the Minister of Education, the Director General of the Ghana Education Service, Mr Jacob A. M. Kor, expressed the government’s gratitude to USAID for the support it continued to render to the educational sector in particular.

He expressed the hope that the partnership would be a perpetual one and help enhance educational delivery in Ghana.

Mr Kor called on teachers and parents to take advantage of the programme to help inculcate the habit of reading in pupils and students, while improving their own reading and teaching capacities.

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