Accra, GHANA — On June 15, 2020, U.S. Ambassador to Ghana Stephanie S. Sullivan joined Ghana’s Minister of Education, Dr. Matthew Opoku Prempeh, in launching the Ghana Learning Radio: Reading Program. Developed in response to the closure of over 25,000 primary schools nationwide due to the COVID-19 global pandemic, the radio program will engage parents, caregivers, and students through daily broadcasts to support and improve reading among Ghana’s primary school age students.
Because of the pandemic, millions of primary school students are out of school. To address this challenge, the Ministry of Education partnered with the U.S. government through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to design a national radio program in reading. The program will provide distance learning instruction in English and the 11 official Ghanaian languages of instruction for Kindergarten Two through fourth grade students.
The Ghana Education Service (GES), in collaboration with the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC), will start broadcasting interactive and easy-to-follow reading lessons on June 15, 2020. The lessons are adapted from USAID-supported instructional materials validated by the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment. Broadcasts will also include health and safety behavior-change messaging that focus on handwashing, social distancing, and child-protection as well as messages to parents and caregivers to encourage homework supervision, family health and hygiene, and the prevention of bullying, sexual assault, and early pregnancy.
All GBC radio stations will broadcast one-hour reading instruction sessions from 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, with repeat broadcasts of the lessons on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays from 4:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
The United States continues to lead in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, illustrated by recent announcements of new foreign assistance that are made possible through the American people’s generosity and the U.S. Government’s action. The American people have given more than $11 billion U.S. that will benefit the global COVID-19 response and continue to ensure that the substantial U.S. funding and scientific efforts on this front remain a central and coordinated part of the worldwide effort against the disease. In Ghana, the United States has provided almost $17 million U.S. to address immediate impacts of COVID-19 by helping to strengthen health systems and to continue to improve reading outcomes. The United States is also addressing long-term impacts by helping to develop environments for economic growth and conflict mitigation.
As Delivered Remarks for U.S. Ambassador to Ghana Stephanie S. Sullivan
Launch of National Radio Reading Program
Via Zoom, Accra
June 15, 2020, 3:00pm
Honorable Minister of Education, Dr. Matthew Opoku Prempeh;
Officials of the Ministry of Education and agencies;
UNICEF Deputy Country Representative Fiachra McAsey
FHI 360 members;
USAID Ghana Mission Director Sharon Cromer and team,
Members of the media; Ladies and gentlemen;
All protocols observed.
Good afternoon! It’s an honor to join you here today.
As a former Peace Corps Volunteer teacher in what was then Zaire, now the Democratic Republic of Congo, I value and cherish education. In fact, I’m told that as a young child, I declared to my parents that “Reading is my best friend!” These are some of the reasons why today’s program is near and dear to my heart.
I’d like to commend the Ministry of Education for its diligent and tireless work to ensure that Ghanaian children continue to learn during this challenging period of the COVID-19 pandemic. We also thank FHI 360 especially, for its commitment as an international nonprofit to improve the health and well-being of people around the world, including here in Ghana.
Over the past seven years, the United States and Ghana have worked side-by-side to invest in strengthening Ghana’s education system, specifically early-grade reading. Through this partnership, we developed a phonics-based program to improve reading levels for students in kindergarten, and first and second grades. The results, as measured by the achievement scores, are larger here in Ghana than those for any other comparable reading program worldwide. Ayikoo!
Millions of Ghanaian primary school students are out of school now because of the COVID-19 pandemic. To address this challenge and ensure the continued success of our early grade reading program collaboration, the Ministry of Education and the Ghana Education Service partnered with USAID to design a national radio program to promote reading education.
The Ghana Learning Radio: Reading Program was created to accomplish our shared goal of improving early grade reading achievement in English and Ghana’s eleven official national languages of instruction. The program will provide distance learning instruction for Kindergarten through fourth grade students. In addition to reading content, the radio programs will include health and safety behavior-change messaging for students, focusing on handwashing, physical distancing, and child protection. These radio broadcasts will also include messaging to parents and caregivers on supervising homework, family health, and hygiene, and ways to prevent bullying, sexual assault, and early pregnancy.
I’m excited about, and grateful for, our continued partnership with the Ministry of Education.
Through our collaboration, we have witnessed tremendous success in Ghana’s literacy rates over the years and look forward to an even brighter future. Or, as Okyeame Kwame puts it in Try Another Time, “We are fighting for a brighter day.”
Today, I’m also quite grateful for the international and local partners with whom we are collaborating to outdoor the Radio Program in Reading for Ghana’s children, namely: the LEGO Foundation, The Right to Play, Lively Minds, the Otumfuo Foundation, the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation, and UNICEF.
I look forward to tuning into the radio program and continuing to work with each of you to meet and exceed the learning needs of children across Ghana.
USAID is the lead U.S. Government agency that works to end extreme global poverty and enable resilient, democratic societies to realize their potential. USAID’s activities and strategic partnerships support Ghana’s journey to self-reliance and a “Ghana Beyond Aid.” Our work advances an integrated approach to development. It promotes accountability, sustainable systems, and inclusive development.