Right To Play Ghana has marked the International Literacy Day (ILD) with an urgent call on parents and caregivers to ensure the continuous education of their children at home despite the threat posed by the coronavirus.
The organisation said the school closures across Ghana since March 2020, should not put on hold the education of primary school children.
International Literacy Day was instituted in 1967 and celebrated across the world to raise awareness about the importance of literacy as a matter of dignity and human rights. This year’s celebration will focus on “Literacy teaching and learning in the Covid-19 crisis and beyond.” It would be used to highlight literacy in the Covid-19 world.
Education in Ghana has been particularly hit by the coronavirus pandemic with over 9.2 million learners (kindergarten, primary and junior high schools) out of school. The Government of Ghana announced the closure of all schools on March 15, 2020, as a result of the growing cases of Covid-19 infection.
As an organisation that promotes quality primary education in Ghana, Right To Play partnered with district education directorates to launch a programme in June dubbed ‘Health, Psychosocial Support and Supplemental Learning’ to engage children in rural communities during this period of global health crisis and school closures.
The programme integrates lessons on literacy, numeracy, healthy diets, and handwashing, through the power of play. The objectives of the programme are; (a) provision of supplementary learning for children at home, and (b) sensitisation of parents on the Covid-19 and safety protocols.
A total of 250 teachers, comprising 162 females and 88 males have volunteered to visit homes in five Right To Play project districts to educate children on the coronavirus and what they can do to protect themselves from contracting it. The districts are Ga South (Greater Accra Region), Keta (Volta Region), Tolon, Savelugu and Kumbungu (Northern Region)
In a statement Tuesday, Right To Play said: “volunteer teachers under the programme visit homes to provide supplemental learning to children as well as provide education on the coronavirus. Children are taken through games such as ‘Scrambled sentences,’ ‘Building a word,’ ‘Bag of stories,’ ‘My body parts,’ ‘Limbo pressure,’ ‘Do as I do,’ and ‘Limbo/Crawling,’ among others. These games have been designed to help the children and their parents stay healthy physically and psychologically during the pandemic.”
A preliminary survey conducted by Right To Play before the commencement of the programme across the five districts revealed that about 42.4% of children help with house chores during the school closure and 9.2% join their parents to either the farm or the market. Also, about 9.9% of children are taught at home by private tutors, while 30.4% of children play with their friends in the neighbourhood because they neither join their parents to the farm nor the market.
Celebrating the impact of the intervention to mark the International Literacy Day, Right To Play said: “Despite the threat posed by the Covid-19, the total reach as of June 30, 2020, is 5,700 people representing 53% females and 47% males.”
Out of the total number, 3,500 are children representing 54% girls and 46% boys whereas 2,200 are adults, comprising 52% females and 48% males.
“Literacy lights our world that is the reason we want to encourage Ghanaians not to entertain any obstacle to education,” Right To Play said, rallying parents and caregivers to unite against the Covid-19.
A parent in Ashifla community in the Ga South Municipality wants Right To Play to continue with the programme after the Covid-19. “I thank Right To Play and our lovely and hardworking teachers. This exercise is good for our children at this COVID-19 time when we don’t know when schools will reopen for academic work,” she said.
She added: “I will support my children to study in the house and also try and get additional learning materials for my children to use in the house. I promise to give my children time to learn at home.”
On her part, Happy who is a mother of two at Tsiame in the Volta Region, said her shy child would have been indoors all day had it not been for the intervention. “My child is the shy type, but the engagement with the teacher has helped her a lot,” she said. “She is now a different child since she started reading slowly now. This is a major improvement, and I thank Right To Play for the intervention,” she added.
Right To Play has made a passionate appeal to teachers to continue supporting children at home to ease workload when school resumes in January 2021.