…stakeholders call for capacity-building initiatives
In spite of the progress that Ghana has made in improving access to school, several children do not have the required literacy and numeracy skills due to teaching-learning inefficiencies. A large number of pupils struggle to meet the proficiency cut-off point for English and Mathematics at the early stage, sector stakeholders have expressed.
According to some experts in the education sector, the colleges of education curriculum is not designed to build trainee teachers’ capacity in early education models; hence, most of the teachers lack the competencies in teaching at the early stage (eight years and below) – resulting in poor literacy performances at that stage.
The Ghana Early Grade Reading (EGR) Assessment Programme in 2019, for example, showed that among primary two EGR pupils, 32 percent were still unable to read a single word, and 57 percent were unable to read with any comprehension.
Convener, Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) platform on Sustainable Development Goal four (SDG-4), Joyce Lanyoh, indicated that there should be a policy direction on teaching how to read and write in the early stages of child education because teachers in various public schools are just doing what they think is right.
“Children spend most of their day time with teachers in school, and once they move from home to school, teachers are supposed to help develop their reading skills. You cannot blame the teachers that much because they lack the skills to deal with early-stage learning,” she said.
Early grade teacher, Fanteakwa South District, Abigail Kodji, admitted the fact that teachers lack competency in early grade education and made a call for continuous capacity-building programmes for teachers, ensuring the availability of adequate reading materials to schools, equipping teachers with relevant teaching materials, and enhancing monitoring and evaluation.
She also touched on the role of parents to help in early literacy at home, such as buying supplementary reading materials for children and creating study spaces for them.
Principal, Accra College of Education, Dr. Samuel Awinkene Atintono, indicated that indeed, there is a teaching-learning gap when it comes to early-stage or formative level education which has been identified by his institution, and a special course was introduced for that purpose.
“We, the colleges of education, have realised the need to train teachers in early grade and lower primary level. The importance of specialisation in this aspect has been infused into programmes, and the first batch of trainees in this field will be graduating later this year to provide this special service,” he said.
Prof. Lade Wosornu, a retired Doctor and Author, reiterated the relevance of mother tongue language, stating that linguistic barrier is still a factor at the early grade stage. Adding to that he stated that children should be helped to gain competence in the mother tongue and transfer the skills to the English language.
Experts also bemoaned the inconsistencies in education sector policies with the change in government or sector ministers. Public schools not receiving the supply of complementary reading books aside from textbooks as was done in the past, inadequate community libraries, and misalignment of teacher postings, among others, were also mentioned to be contributing factors.
Education Specialist, Sabre Education, Robert Quansah, emphasised that the Ghana Education Service (GES) must control the literacy education and support space because there are so many CSOs and NGOs undertaking several projects and programmes in that space that the regulator is not aware of; hence, the need to partner all these development partners, and direct who goes where to get a balanced representation.
The stakeholders made these remarks at an event to mark International Literacy Day (ILD) organised by World Vision in partnership with Worldreader and UNESCO.