Looking back to the beginning of last year no one could have predicted the devastating effect COVID-19 would have around the world. Schools quickly closed in Ghana on 16th March 2020 in order to curb the spread of COVID, and did not open their doors again until January 2021.
The school closures, coupled with strict social distancing rules and a ban on large gatherings, meant that we were no longer able to deliver our teacher training projects. As a result of these restrictions the most pressing problem that we needed to address was that kindergarten children across the country were now out of school and struggling to learn at home.
To combat this, at the beginning of June 2020 we launched our Say, Sing, Shine radio programme in partnership with the Ghana Education Service. The programme brought fun and creative kindergarten sessions direct to homes and communities across the 12 districts that we work with the Eastern, Central and Western regions of Ghana. The simple sessions were developed to be completed in the home with parental guidance with various literacy, numeracy and creative activities integrated into each session.
The sessions for children were broadcast over eight local radio stations and 108 community public address systems (COMPAS). COMPAS are set up in public spaces within communities, meaning that those children who may not have had access to a radio at home still had the opportunity to listen to the broadcasts.
The Say, Sing, Shine programme also recognised the challenging role that parents had to take on overnight when they suddenly became the classroom teacher for their children. We therefore developed content to support parents via live in studio radio discussion. Topics covered in the broadcasts for parents included behavior management, how kindergarten children learn best, parental engagement with schools, supporting children with special educational needs and child safeguarding protection.
Kindergarten teachers that we have trained also played a key part in supporting parents and children throughout the school closures. They supported parents by regularly calling them to check up on the general well-being of themselves and their children and how they were coping with supporting their children’s learning. Teachers were able to provide any additional support parents needed and also gather feedback on the radio broadcasts.
Due to the success of the radio broadcasts during the long period of schools closures in Ghana parents requested that the broadcasts continued for both themselves and children once schools reopened. Whilst schools were closed we were broadcasting three times a week for children and once a week for parents. Upon schools reopening, we continued to broadcast once a week for parents and once on weekends for children to supplement their classroom learning.
From the launch of our radio programme in June 2020 up until the beginning of July 2021 we have been able to broadcast 829 sessions for children across eight local radio stations and 9,912 sessions using COMPAS across the 12 focal districts. We have also broadcast 301 parental sessions across the 12 districts.
Although a pivot away from our usual project activities delivering these radio broadcasts has provided fantastic insight for Sabre as an organisation into the world of hybrid learning, which will be a key strategy for us an organisation in order to take our work to scale across Ghana and beyond.
We would like to say a big thank you to everyone who has helped to make the Say, Sing, Shine programme a success. We could not have done it without the support of the Ghana Education Service, kindergarten teachers, parents and the communities that we work with.