World Education’s Read Along pilot project improves English literacy amongst schoolchildrenGov’t Moots A Policy To Ensure Skills Acquired In TVETs Can Be Upgraded

A pilot project implemented by World Education (WE) using a free Google Reading Along app has improved English literacy proficiency amongst schoolchildren.

The improvement includes areas such as oral vocabulary, speed of reading of letter sounds, non-word-reading, oral passage reading, and reading and listening comprehension.

It has motivated teachers, school directors and Ministry of Education (MoE)/Ghana Education Service (GES) counterparts, who have become advocates for continuation and scale up.

These formed part of the findings of the pilot project, which was disseminated at a virtual event dubbed: ‘From Success to Potential Scale: Ghana’s Read Along pilot shines’.

World Education (WE), 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.

Participants were former out-of-school girls, aged 13 to 17 years in gra
des 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.

They practised with the Google Read Along App for three months in daily 15-minute sessions outside regular school hours, guided by trained Mentor Teachers.

Mr Stephen Konde, working for WE, explained that ‘The App offers offline decoding and word recognition activities and age-appropriate reading materials whilst real-time feedback is given by ‘Diya’, an online reading companion.’

He said An Early Grade Reading Assessment (EGRA) was used in May 2023 to establish baseline literacy levels of 118 girls in three pilot treatment schools (65) and four control schools (53) with no use of Google Read Along App.

He added that the EGRA was used again in August 2023 to measure the impact of the intervention on 53 of the 65 girls in the treatment schools and 45 of the initi
al 60 girls in the control schools.

In Ghana, formal education is taught in English Language from grade three onwards, but the girls had limited exposure to English Language in their past schooling and daily lives; their English Language literacy skills were incredibly low, with most of them struggling to even pronounce basic letter sounds let alone comprehend grade-level text.

The assessment results from baseline to the endline, which were released during the virtual event, showed that in oral vocabulary, both the treatment and control groups demonstrated improvement, but the treatment group was able to name 50 per cent more words correctly compared to the control group.

In the area of letter sounds, at the endline, the treatment group read on average 40.5 more letters per minute, almost four times as much as the control group, whilst in the area of non-word reading, children in schools in the control group read 7.7 more words per minute compared to baseline but in the treatment group schools, this was 18
more words per minute.

In the area of oral reading passage, at baseline, the girls averaged reading 12.1 correct words per minute (73 children out of the total of 125 did not read a single word) but at the endline, the treatment group read 34 more words per minute compared to 7.9 words in the control group.

When it came to reading comprehension, at the endline, the treatment group responded to 50 per cent more questions correctly than the students in the

control group with the number of zero scores in the treatment group fell 72.4 per cent (58 to 16 children) compared to a fall of 19.5 per cent in the control group (46 children to 37).

On listening comprehension, at baseline, only eight out of the 125 children answered at least one question correctly but at the endline, the treatment group answered 1.6 correct answers out of three questions compared to 0.7 in the control group.

Based on the findings, several recommendations were proposed including expanding the Google Read Along pilot project to reach mo
re children struggling with English literacy in primary schools; including (semi)urban areas or grades one to three.

Mr Willem van de Waal, a Senior Technical Advisor at WE, expressed the organisation’s commitment to exploring ways to continue use of the Google Read Along App or similar technologies that could extend and personalise instruction for children struggling with English proficiency.

He said the organisation would also discuss with stakeholders how lessons learned could contribute to improved literacy and English Language learning in Ghana and beyond.

Mr Kassim Abu, a Deputy Director at the Tolon District Directorate of GES, said throughout the period, GES observed increased learners’ ability to read within a short time, increased supervision of head teachers on lesson delivery, improved attendance of learners and teachers, and interest in teaching and learning of reading improved.

Source: Ghana News Agency

The Government is formulating a policy to ensure that qualifications that Kenyans acquire through Technical, Vocational Education and Training (TVET) and skills acquired beyond the classroom can be upgraded through transfer of credit up to university.

State Department for Technical, Vocational Education and Training (TVET) Principal Secretary Dr Esther Muoria said this will ensure young people can go to any TVET institution and progress up the ladder until they can acquire the highest qualification including a doctorate in their area of qualification.

Dr Muoria said this policy of upgrading qualifications will help in improving mobility of our young people by encouraging them to advance their skills through continued learning and added this advancement will be enhanced through credit transfer from one level to another.

‘Therefore it will no longer be true that that when you complete your training in TVETs you can only do technical work you trained for, but we want to ensure that progression is achieved fo
r your credits from one level to another,’ Muoria stated.

Dr Muoria was speaking in Naivasha on Monday during a Multisectoral workshop for members of an ad hoc committee appointed to review the Kenya Credit Accumulation and Transfer System (KCATS).

She also recommended that every young person should have a skill which they can fall back to make a living when the main career gets into a hitch and said even those in colleges and universities can still go back to learn a skill in TVET institutions.

In his remarks read by Dr Mworia at the opening of the five-day workshop, Education Cabinet Secretary (CS) Mr Ezekiel Machogu said this policy will mark a significant milestone towards meeting the national, regional and continental aspirations on attainment of learner mobility and lifelong learning.

‘Through this system, the Ministry envisages to ease movement of learners between and within various programmes, institutions and levels of qualifications such as TVET institutions, universities and even professional e
xamining bodies. This will not only facilitate credit transfers, exemptions, but also vertical and horizontal mobility of learners at all levels to enable entry, re-entry and exit,’ Machogu noted.

The CS said the global megatrends require that education and training respond to the emerging needs, allow for compatibility and transferability of skills and people and as a result of these demands, the Government of Kenya has embarked on reforms to develop tools and instruments that empower and skill young Kenyans to thrive in a competitive, industrializing and closely networked and globalized world through flexible, but quality assured qualifications pathways.

He observed that the dynamic and emerging global trends for both skills and knowledge-based economy calls for systems that embrace lifelong learning and reiterated that the Government is committed to provide inclusive quality education and training which is in line with UN Sustainable Development

‘There has never been a time in this country when the Gove
rnment has put a lot of emphasis on learner mobility, recognition and internationalization of qualifications than now. In fact, the Presidential Working Party Report on Education and Training indeed flagged out the need to develop and implement a Credit Accumulation and Transfer system to facilitate mobility of qualifications,’ Machogu said.

Kenya National Qualifications Authority (KNQA) Acting Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Dr Alice Kande said the move to review the policy was timely as it will help the country to come up with quality training for her young population.

She said the policy framework was permeable through a process of transfer and therefore will ensure no skill of knowledge is wasted, whether acquired though formal or informal process outside classroom.

Dr Kande explained that the framework will clearly indicate at what level a person with these skills or knowledge can be awarded or conferred with a diploma or a degree for that matter, as it enumerates a proper and coordinated system of doi
ng that and ensures vertical or horizontal mobility.

‘Everyone should be able to move vertically or horizontally, while at the same time encouraging lifelong learning and recognizing of prior learning,’ she said.

Dr Kande also noted that the policy will address various issues in education that have not been addressed, for instance where recognition of knowledge and prior learning skills has been regarded in a very varied manner by different institutions.

The Government also recently proposed a policy framework that seeks to recognize people with certain skills but lack the necessary academic papers to make them to be identified.

The move will see people especially in the informal sector who possess exemplary skills (competencies) in areas such as plumbing and masonry among others being vetted through a procedure that has been established and awarded certificates. Kenya National Qualifications Authority (KNQA) is coordinating this whole process.

Kande said Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) is a process
used to identify, assess, and certify a candidate’s competencies regardless of when, where, and how they were acquired against prescribed standards or learning outcomes and is meant to help these people achieve some level of professional recognition in their work.

The move targets mainly workers in the informal sector, who possess exemplary competencies in what they do, migrant workers and refugees, asylum seekers and out-of-school youths.

According to the Kenya National Qualifications Authority (KNQA), Kenya still faces a severe shortage of quality and relevant skilled workforce due to a mismatch between skills produced and labour market needs.

Source: Kenya News Agency