Children’s inability to read basic words at Grade Two in Ghana is disheartening, Mr Palham Oyiye, the National Coordinator, Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT), said in Accra on Tuesday.
At a virtual conference organised by the Ghana Publishers Association to celebrate the 2020 “World Literacy Day,” he said some children were unable to read simple words like ‘the’ and ‘cat’.
The Conference was on the theme: “Child Literacy as Foundation for Future Development: Strategies in the COVID-19 Crisis and Beyond”.
Mr Oyiye said a World Bank Ghana Accountability for Learning Outcomes Project revealed that the Early Grade Reading Assessment did not change between 2013 and 2015.
He said the report indicated that only two per cent of Grade Two or ‘Primary 2’ pupils in Ghana were able to read at an appropriate grade level with 50 per cent unable to recognise a single word.
In 2018, the report said despite a decrease in zero scorers, the pool of zero scorers for higher order reading sub-tasks was still high with 85 per cent for reading comprehension, 57 per cent for oral reading fluency, and 64 per cent for non-word reading, he said.
Between 2016 and 2018, the test scores remained essentially the same, if not decreased slightly.
At the secondary level, Mr Oyiye said learning outcomes were also low as only 33 per cent of students passed the West African Senior School Certificate Examination for Mathematics in 2017, while in 2016, only 23 per cent of students qualified for entry into tertiary education.
He said the ultimate goal of literacy was to build pupil’s comprehension, writing skills, overall ability in communication, train them to keep current events, and be best social fit in building intra and inter-relationships.
It was, therefore, important that teachers learnt how well to teach children, provide them with the right learning experiences, and communicate with the right language when teaching.
Mr Oyiye said it was unfortunate that a few children had access to computers, smart phones and the internet or electricity to learn on digital channels during this period of COVID-19.
He entreated teachers to search for resources from online platforms to teach their pupils and students and provide them with emotional support when engaging them on video sessions.
Mr Benjamin K. Gyasi, the Chief Director of the Ministry of Education, said the 2018 World Development Report indicated that nearly 80 per cent of Ghana’s population was at level one literacy and lacked the ability to integrate and evaluate information received.
Speaking on; “Building and Advancing a Sustainable and Functional Literacy Framework among Youth and Children,” Mr Gyasi said the Ghana Education Service (GES) had revamped the curriculum into a standard-based one to equip every child with the basic skills to read, write, understand an arithmetic and make critical analysis.
He said research had shown that acquiring a Diploma in Basic Education did not adequately prepare a teacher for the classroom hence the curriculum review and introduction of the Teacher Licensure Examination by the GES to adequately prepare teachers to meet the national and global education standards.
Mr Gyasi said the Ministry of Education was working towards acquiring a legal framework to transition the non-formal division of the educational system into a complementary education to ensure that no one was left behind.
Mr Abdourahamane Diallo, the Country Director of UNESCO, addressing the conference on the topic: “Building a Conducive Environment for Literacy and Partnership,” called on the Government to equip the educational sector with finances and tools to carry out its activities.
He called on development partners and stakeholders like civil society and non-governmental organisations and academia to assist government to bridge the literacy gap.
Dr Francis Gbormittah, the President of the Ghana Association of Writers (GAW), advised writers and stakeholders in education to step up their game to reduce illiteracy.
Dr Gbormittah, a Board member of the Ghana News Agency, said the GAW was initiating the “GAW E-Book Audio Project’ to advance the efforts towards reducing illiteracy.
That would enable pupils and students to learn wherever they might be or whatever they might be doing during this COVID-19 period, he said.