When COVID-19 reached global pandemic levels and kindergarten schools in Ghana closed, we worked closely with the Ghana Education Service to develop district level COVID-19 response plans to ensure that young children still had access to kindergarten education during the pandemic.
The education directorates, who are responsible for local education delivery, identified the key challenges that needed to be addressed specifically around kindergarten education.
Kwadwo Boahen, Deputy Director for Supervision in the Nsawam Adoagyiri Municipal Education Directorate in the Eastern Region, explains some of these challenges.
“When schools were closed down, we had nothing much at the Municipal level to support learners, especially learners at kindergarten. We encouraged teachers and head teachers on WhatsApp platforms to get their pupils at Junior High School and Senior High Schools to watch the Ghana Education Service Television Programme. Our focus was on the upper classes and not on kindergarten per say. Later, Ghana TV channel, Joy Learning, also introduced lessons for Basic1-Senior High Schools. So basically, we had nothing for kindergarten and they were left on their own at the time. We were itching at the same time to have something done to sustain the interest of the children at the kindergarten while they are at home”
“Sabre’s remote learning radio programme was right on time to bring the classroom experience to parents and their children at home”
The Say, Sing, Shine radio programme (a remote learning programme) was developed to ensure kindergarten learning could continue whilst schools were closed. It provided fun and engaging lessons delivered via stories broadcast on local radio and community public address systems. There were also live broadcasts aimed at parents, with the opportunity for them to call in.
Collaboration is at the heart of the programme and its successful delivery during the challenging times of COVID-19 was dependent on strong relationships. Sabre has a long standing relationship with the Ghana Education Service and the 12 district directorates who look after local education delivery in the areas where we work. We were thrilled that all of these districts were really engaged with the programme and all worked incredibly hard to ensure it was a success.
Kwadwo and his team at the Nsawam directorate saw the programme as a great opportunity for them and worked tirelessly to ensure it was accessed by as many families as possible.
“When we heard of the remote learning programme, we sighed a relief as a directorate. We quickly engaged all Circuit Supervisors, head teachers and teachers to mobilise their pupils to listen to the programme. We adopted a strategy of calling parents to ensure their children listened to the radio programme at specific times of the day. Those with no radio access were mobilised to listen via community public address systems. I was working with my colleagues as though our whole lives depended on this radio programme. Yes, our lives depended on this programme, because not every directorate had this opportunity and so, we had to grab it and sustain its gains. At first, it was a bit difficult mobilising parents and their children, but with consistency in our approach, we got a lot of children and their parents to participate in the radio programme. It has been a great joy for me, as head of supervision. I can boldly say, the programme was successful and really achieved what it intended to achieve in spite of some difficulties”
Due to Kwadwo’s supervisory foresight, the municipal directorate had lots of children engaged in the radio programme. He closely monitored the programme, received reports and shared feedback with Sabre. Kwadwo also supported the programme by joining the live radio panel every Friday to engage with parents, discussing key issues such as how to care for children during the pandemic and how to support their learning at home.
“Having supervised the implementation of this programme, I can conclude that, the programme creates the classroom setting in the minds of the learners which makes them attentive during the broadcast period. I have seen some children able to sing the songs the facilitator sung throughout the lesson which I believe is helping to develop their listening and speaking skills. They are able to talk about the story they heard when they are playing on their own. I believe strongly that the ongoing radio lessons are making a great impact in the lives of our children which will mean that when schools reopen, the learning gap would not be too wide for them”
The programme not only helped to ensure that children accessed the education they deserve during the pandemic but importantly it has strengthened engagement with parents, the benefits of which will be felt far beyond COVID-19.
“I saw the readiness of some children to sit by the radio sets, I saw teachers and parents mobilising children at community public address systems to listen to the programme, and I saw the seriousness with which the children did their assignment. I cannot shelve my happiness and joy at this initiative. In fact, we are extremely grateful to Sabre for their priceless support and it is my hope that Sabre will extend this programme to other parts of the country so that others can also benefit”
Now that schools have opened, we are continuing our remote learning programme which has been used to support the districts with their Back to School campaign. This campaign has worked to encourage parents to send their children safely back to school and ensure schools can create safe environments for the children as they return.
A huge thank you to the Ghana Education Service and our district directorates for their commitment and hard work delivering this vital programme. We look forward to continued work ensuring that every child in Ghana can access quality kindergarten education.
This programme has been funded with UK aid from the British people.