USAID, UNICEF supports education in Ghana

Mr Jim Beaver(right)Mission Director,USAID Ms Susan Namondo Ngongi(left) and Mr Charles Aheto-Tsegah,exchanging the agreement documents.Photo.Ebo GormanThe US government, through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), has signed a cooperation agreement with UNICEF to improve learning outcomes and equitable and inclusive education with a focus on early grade reading performance in Ghana over the next four years.

“USAID is excited to join in partnership with UNICEF, Ministry of Education and Ghana Education Service to bolster basic education priorities of improving reading, good management and accountability,” a USAID statement quoted Jim Beaver, USAID Mission Director in Ghana, as saying.

It said “Ghana’s early grade learners will have greater opportunities to build their foundational reading skills, which are directly linked to success later in life.  Establishing these strong building blocks in reading will help Ghana’s children learn to read so that they can read to learn.”

With an added contribution of US$ 14.5 million, USAID’s support will expand much of UNICEF’s work with the Ministry of Education through Ghana Education Service to contribute to improving learning of children in kindergarten, including vulnerable and/or at risk populations such as out of school children, girls and children with learning difficulties, the statement added.

Ghana has been heralded as a role model for many African countries in the provision of free basic education. Moreover, enrolment is at its highest and gender parity has been achieved.

The statement noted that however, despite these achievements, the quality of education in Ghana has declined, with only 16 per cent of grade six students proficient in mathematics for example and only 35 per cent proficient in English, according to the 2011 National Education Assessment.

It said girls from northern Ghana also average only four years of education, three years less than the national average. And 20 per cent of children with physical disabilities were not attending school, according to the 2010 national census.

The statement said “while geographic and social–economic disparities remain a major concern for us,” said.

For her part, Susan Namondo Ngongi the UNICEF Representative in Ghana, was quoted as saying that “access is no longer highlighted as the only challenge in the sector.”

“The provision of quality education; where enhanced teaching and learning outcomes, the trademark of an efficient education system, is increasingly becoming the priority of many stakeholders. We are entering a new era in the education sector here in Ghana,” she said.

By Times Reporter

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