Reading among pupils in kindergarten two, primary grades one and two in 20 underperforming schools in the Yendi Municipality has improved significantly resulting in a strong education foundation necessary for academic achievement.
Pupils in the 20 selected schools benefited from the Dagbani Language Prototype programme piloted in the municipality as part of the Ghana Partnership for Education project (Learning).
The project is being implemented by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in partnership with the Ministry of Education (MoE) to improve the reading achievement and the quality of reading instruction in early grades.
After six months of programme implementation from January, 2017, early grade assessment results showed that decoding skills increased by 52 per cent, oral reading fluency increased from zero to 16 words per minute, and listening comprehension results increased by 26 per cent.
National assessments in 2013 and 2015 showed that 50 per cent of children in primary grade two struggled with reading, and only two per cent was able to read at grade level with comprehension.
USAID, therefore, partnered with the MoE to identify a phonics-based reading instruction approach to improve reading achievement scores.
The MoE then developed the Dagbani Language Prototype programme which focused on teaching the building blocks of reading, including letter recognition and sounds, decoding, vocabulary, fluency and comprehension through instructional materials and teacher training courses.
Dr Guitele Nicoleau, Chief of Party of USAID Learning, who spoke at a ceremony at Yendi on Thursday to celebrate the success achieved under the Dagbani Language Prototype programme, said in view of the success achieved, the programme had been extended to 100 districts across the country and offered in 11 official national languages.”
At the ceremony, some of the beneficiary pupils proved to the participants what they were learning in class by fluently reading a number of texts in Dagbanli.
Dr Nicoleau said “the programme enhanced the ability of 38,000 teachers in over 7,200 schools to improve reading achievement results for 1.1 million kindergarten two, primary grades one and two pupils during the 2018-2019 academic year”.
She said the USAID Learning project has developed reading materials in 11 official national languages including Dagbanli, Gonja, Asante, Ewe, Ga, and Nzema for use by schools in the 100 districts across the country to improve the reading achievement and the quality of reading instruction in early grades.
Dr James Dobson, USAID Education Office Director, said the beneficiary pupils were better placed to benefit from the Free Senior High School programme because their education foundation was strong and this would enable them to climb the academic ladder.
Alhaji Mohammed Haroun, Northern Regional Director of Education appealed to USAID to extend and expand the Learning project to replicate the success across the country for improved education outcome.