SDG 4. Obtaining a quality education is fundamental to improving children’s lives. All children should have the right to a good quality education that helps them use and develop their talents and abilities. Children should be encouraged to go to school to the highest level they can.
A report published in 2016 by the Ghana Education Service and USAID found that, on average, only 2% of Ghanaian P2 students (7 year olds) had achieved the goal of reading with comprehension.* This low result, according to the report, is the result of children not learning the earlier skills that reading requires. In response to this wide-spread issue of illiteracy, social entrepreneur Sheila Osei Boakye founded Literacy for Life, an organization working to equip children with the fundamental skills required for reading and writing.
*Ghana 2015 Early Grade Reading Assessment and Early Grade Mathematics Assessment (Ghana Education Service, 2016)
Sheila and her team performed their first outcome measurement and saw positive results.
Naomi Awurayie, a 16-year-old JHS 3 candidate, could not read, spell or even decipher the various sounds of the alphabet. This hampered her performance in class and jeopardized her chances of passing her Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE).
She says, “Before I joined the Literacy for Life program I could not read, spell or understand the meaning of some words as well as letters. When I joined the program, I was taught the letters of the alphabet, how to pronounce them and all their sounds. I had to learn very quickly during the three months to prepare me for my BECE exams. But the teachers at the school helped me through the literacy program. Little by little, I was able to start reading and understanding the questions asked in class. After the three months in the program, I was able to qualify to write the BECE exams. I was able to pass the exams, and I have qualified to go to Senior High School. I am very grateful to Literacy for Life who helped me read and write — now I can also teach my little siblings to read.”
When Sheila entered the Reach for Change incubator in 2015, Literacy for Life was at an early stage with few fundamental organizational building blocks in place: “From the funding we received from Reach for Change we were able to develop our app, to test it and have people review it for us. We also received the training we needed to help us put our internal controls, meaning bookkeeping and other financial processes, in order. Now we are able to keep our budget, monitor our financials and report properly. With the help of the funding and the trainings we have received from Reach for Change we have been able to lay the foundation of the organization. Now it is up to us to build on it, and reach further and achieve even more.”
Sheila continues: “In the beginning, delegation was a real challenge for me because I really wanted to be there to see what was happening myself. After a leadership course with Reach for Change I realized that I needed to make better use of my staff in order to be able to grow. I put a lot of effort into training and engaging them in the leadership, so that they could hold trainings with children on their own. Instead of me having to go to every school and every class, I could send a co-worker, and they could hold the training on their own. I realized that my staff had developed a lot and they could handle issues that would arise on their own. The only thing I would need to do is to go to the school for feedback afterwards. The increased delegation has really helped us in terms of scaling and reaching more children.”
In 2018 Literacy for Life reached as many as 22,369 children and youth.
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