The World Education’s Google assisted reading tool, “Reading Along App”, which was piloted in the Tolon Districts of the Northern region to help enhance reading and numeracy skills of pupils has started posting positive outcomes.
The World Education, a division of John Snow Incorporated, in collaboration with GES and Google, implemented the three-month pilot project between May and August 2023 in the Northern Region to address English Language proficiency gaps of students in primary school.
The improvement has been observed in areas such as oral vocabulary, speed of reading of letter sounds, non-word-reading, oral passage reading, and reading and listening comprehension in the English language.
At a recently held virtual meeting among stakeholders, which was on theme: “Ghana Read Along impact evaluation findings,” the World Education shared some of its findings prior to the project and post-project assessment.
Participants of the project were mainly out-of-school girls, aged 10 to 14 years in grades three to six in three schools in the Tolon District, who earlier benefited from the Foreign Commonwealth Development Office-FCDO-funded Strategic Approaches to Girls’ Education project, which was implemented from October 2018 to February 2023.
The beneficiaries practised with the Google Read Along App for three months daily for a period of 15-minute under the supervision of trained mentor teachers.
The exercise took place outside the normal instructional hours even though it was done with the school’s premises.
The World Education Vice President for the African region, Adam Turney, said World Education has been supporting education systems—formal and non-formal in many parts of the world, including Ghana.
Ghana, for instance, he noted, World Education has been supporting education programming since 2001, stressing that supporting education particularly in Ghana was very dear to the heart of the organisation.
Mr Turney said World Education also enjoys a very close collaboration with the Ministry of Education and Ghana Education Service to help build the capacities of its local partners, focusing also on gender equity.
He noted that World Education was particularly interested in projects that keep children in school, adding that “We are really proud of the range of work we’ve been able to do in the education system in Ghana.”
He said the “Google Reading Along App”project was internally funded by the World Education, through the donations of its board members.
Speaking at the virtual meeting, Mr Stephen Konde, a Consultant for World Education, said a quality study was conducted on the beneficiary school children to understand their challenges and how the app could improve their literacy, numeracy and comprehension skills.
That, he noted, the findings from their study was using the early grade assessment was shared with the Ghana Education Service with which GES gave them the greenlight to pilot the project.
Mr Konde said three treatment schools and four control schools were then identified for the project.
He said assessment conducted on the beneficiaries indicated that oral vocabulary, both the treatment and control groups showed an improvement, but the treatment group was able to name 50 per cent more words correctly compared to the control group.
He said each girl had 40 stories on their tablets, which they used for the project, hence enabling them to improve their vocabulary, reading skills and comprehension.
He further indicated that the project also provided stipends for both data and electricity, saying “there had been a tremendous improvement in the reading skills of the children.”
For Mr Konde, project was well monitored to ensure that it ran smoothly, observing that some of the beneficiary girls topped their class in their end of term examinations.
He said the bi-weekly assessment of learners during field visits confirmed drastic improvements and that the number of non-readers reduced significantly.
On his part, a Snr. Technical Advisor of World Education, Willem Van De Waal, said 8200 girls between 10-14 years transitioned into formal education, and that after two years of implementation, 90 per cent of the beneficiaries are still in school.
He explained that the beneficiaries were taught foundational literacy and numeracy skills, stressing that “we supported transition to primary and secondary schools.”
The Deputy Director at the Tolon District Directorate of GES, Kassim Abu, expressed happiness about the project, pointing out that throughout the period, GES observed increased learners’ ability to read within a short time as well as improving learners’ attendance in school.