Mastercard Foundation, UNICEF partner for quality and equitable learning opportunities in Ghana
The Mastercard Foundation and UNICEF have joined forces to advance the efforts of the Ministry of Education and Ghana Education Service to provide quality and equitable learning opportunities for more than nine million children in Ghana.
As part of the Mastercard Foundation COVID-19 Recovery and Resilience Program, the two-year program, which commenced in June 2020 and runs until May 2022, supports the implementation of virtual and distance learning through radio, SMS, and online learning platforms which will be made available to children across the country.
Learners are being provided with access to online platforms to engage with GES-approved coursework and materials and screen time with tutors. To ensure equitable access to all, children in remote locations or without access to smart devices will benefit from lessons via community radio stations and SMS.
Anne-Claire Dufay, UNICEF Representative, Ghana: “Learning has been disrupted for approximately nine million girls and boys in Ghana since the outbreak of COVID-19 in March. While some children have returned, nearly eight million children partially missed out on their third term of this academic year. For the most marginalized, this can lead to negative consequences which may last a lifetime. When children are not learning, they are less likely to break out of the cycle of poverty. Thanks to this strategic partnership with the Mastercard Foundation, UNICEF will support government efforts to ensure innovative opportunities for safe and quality continuous learning for every child.”
In collaboration with identified media organizations in the country, the $4.6 million partnership also provides multiple broadcast courses to learners via TV channels with nationwide coverage. The program includes the development of complementary materials to ensure the protection of vulnerable learners during school closures and when schools re-open in early 2021.
Nathalie Akon Gabala, Mastercard Foundation’s Regional Head, Western, Central and Northern Africa: “The pandemic has had a multi-faceted impact on education, but those who’ve borne the brunt of its adverse effects are children from vulnerable households and girls. To ensure that the pandemic does not exacerbate existing inequalities, this program is designed to enable learning in the short-, medium-, and long-term, including preparing for potential future crises. Even when schools re-open, we will need to pay special attention to the needs of children who may have fallen further back than their peers and those who are likely not to return. This partnership enables us to safeguard the future of school children in Ghana by ensuring their education does not fall through the cracks.”
In the short-term, the program seeks to ensure continuous learning for children as schools remain closed due to the coronavirus. This includes supporting the development of teaching and learning content that will be broadcast through the Ghana Learning Radio Programme. Learning content will be accompanied by tools to engage parents and caregivers in the learning process through SMS tips. There will also be a focus on implementing teacher training, particularly focusing on the use of remote and distance learning modalities and with specific attention to teachers’ assessment of learning.
In the medium-term, the program will include supporting the re-enrolment of children, particularly girls to school, which includes:
- Sensitization and awareness-raising campaigns aimed at parents/caregivers, traditional leaders, students, and other community members;
- Providing targeted support to vulnerable junior high school girls; and
- Working with the Ministry of Education and Ghana Education Service to ensure schools operate safely during and immediately after the COVID-19 outbreak in Ghana. This includes promotion of good hygiene measures, as well as the implementation of the Re-Entry Policy promoting girls’ re-entry to school following childbirth.
A longer-term response will focus on resiliency planning at all levels of the sector and will be implemented with an aim of building school-level capacity to integrate contingency or emergency preparedness in school-level improvement plans.
Prof. Kwasi Opoku-Amankwa, Director-General, Ghana Education Service: “Ghana Education Service is aware of the negative impact of COVID-19 on learners, especially for the vulnerable ones. An important lesson the pandemic has taught all of us is that we need to adopt measures that will enable children to learn at home through remote and distance learning service delivery models. At the same time, we need to work together to ensure a quick recovery of the education sector in a manner that guarantees the safety of all learners and staff. Ghana Education Service is working on building a system that will be resilient enough to withstand future shocks and that allows for continuous learning for all children always. Any support in this direction, such as the one coming from this partnership, is well appreciated.”