Improve education quality in 500 Ghanaian schools

 
$1,246
$13,754
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Two students collaborate to solve a problem
Two students collaborate to solve a problem

Hello from Ghana! The last several months have been eventful for the Teacher Community Assistant Initiative (TCAI), with data analysis on the last survey of pupil testing nearly completed and refresher trainings for Teacher Community Assistants (TCAs) and teachers underway across Ghana.

The preliminary results of the testing survey have shown promise for several of the TCAI interventions, with impact on basic skills in reading and math with remedial TCAs in the after-school program, and some impact on basic skills with in-school remedial TCAs, who focus on helping the weakest pupils in each class to succeed. In the after-school intervention, pupils performed 20% better than control group pupils in basic reading skills, and 10% better than the control group in basic math! Though the teacher training intervention showed limited impacts, the results have prompted further innovation and research to better understand how to help teachers reach the weakest pupils in their classes. IPA co-hosted a  successful conference in May for education officials across Africa, featuring evidence from IPA-J-PAL (Jameel Poverty Action Lab) education research across the globe, during which the preliminary TCAI results were shared. The presentation of the TCAI results at the event provided a platform for discussion with other education leaders in countries across sub-Saharan Africa, all of whom are interested in leveraging innovative research to improve basic education outcomes in their own countries.

To help the TCAs, teachers, and head teachers run the program effectively, the implementation team is currently holding trainings across the country, where they reinforce the key ideas behind the TCA program and offer feedback and support to those working on the ground. Some highlights of the trainings thus far have been the instructional songs and games that engage pupils and make learning fun and accessible.

In the last few months, the evaluation team ran another round of surveying, during which we collected data on the execution of the Initiative on the ground. TCAI surveyors visited 497 of the 500 schools across all of Ghana, observing teachers and Teacher Community Assistants (TCAs), interviewing them, and taking attendance on pupils and school staff to measure different aspects of the program’s implementation and to measure pupil exposure to the treatments. This helps researchers from IPA and Ghanaian policy-makers to understand the true efficacy of the program, to gain insights into the reasons behind the test results for each treatment group and help shape future policy and programs.

The TCAI team has been working with the Ghana Education Service to review these initial results from the testing conducted in November 2011, and to integrate lessons learned from these early results into nation-wide policy. Local district-level education officials have already seized on TCAI’s central ideas – remedial instruction, targeted at the child’s actual learning level – to scale new initiatives across their own districts; in Adenta, in southern Ghana, a new program to improve basic reading skills was launched with successful early results, including a significant increase in the reading abilities of pupils across the district.

This exciting work will have a great impact on the education of children across Ghana, and with the help of donors like you, the TCAI study will continue to answer key research questions that will help governments and teachers to address the learning needs of pupils everywhere.

Greetings again from Ghana! In addition to some recent photos taken in Sampa, we have a lot to share with you on the activities of the last few months. Most notably, the remedial education program’s 1st endline data collection took place from November to December 2011, during which about 80% of the program’s evaluation sample was reached. Two rounds of midline surveying have been completed, with a third round underway.

Initial results indicate that the in-school and after-school remedial classes given by the Teacher Community Assistants (TCAs) had an effect on overall math scores. Pupils gained the most in basic skills, such as simple addition of single and double digit numbers. In literacy, pupils made the most progress in basic reading skills—particularly identification of letters, with significant impacts both from TCA remedial classes (during and after school) and from teacher training. Overall, the after-school intervention had the greatest effects on both English and math, implying that students may benefit most from supplemental rather than pull-out classes.

The program’s implementation team is planning refresher training for the program teachers and community teaching assistants in April. An international education conference is also being planned in May 2012 where the results from the 1st endline of the project will be shared along other education projects in Africa.

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First of all, a huge thank you to all of our previous and recent supporters! Our latest update from the field includes some of the fall activities that we've carried out to achieve the next steps in both implementation and concurrent evaluation of this exciting national program in Ghana.

Some of the exciting developments we would like to share are integral parts of the success of the program. Over the last few months, all community teaching assistants were retrained to serve in their community schools throughout the country. The re-training was to ensure the instruction capacity gaps identified during teacher's assistant assessments throughout the 1st phase of the project were addressed. The aim of the re-training program was to ensure that each and every trained community assistant is well equipped to work with low-performing pupils in a separate group for two or more hours each day to bring them up to speed on basic skills. This is targeted at bringing pupils who were just achieving the minimum competencies to proficiency levels.

Another major activity of the program has been consistend monitoring of the project implementation. Schools are being visited unannounced to check on the Teacher, Community Teaching Assistants and pupil attendance as well as to gather detailed information on teaching methods. The project evaluation team has begun a nation-wide exercise to collect data on the learning levels of children involved in the program to measure the initial outcomes of the project intervention. Results from this exercise will be shared in the next update.

As always, we thank you for your interest in this exciting national endeavor and invite you to share any questions or comments you have on our Global Giving page. We would love to engage more with our donors as the program grows and expands.

A boy selects his answer to the CTA
A boy selects his answer to the CTA's question

Ghana Education Activities Update

Implementation for IPA's Teacher's Community Assistant Initiative started in May 2011, and we are eager to share some exciting news from the field.

Activities that have been carried out include training for over 500 high school graduates to serve as Community Teaching Assistants in 300 schools throughout Ghana. 350 of these assistants are employed to provide remedial education to the lowest performing kids from 1st through 3rd grades, either during school hours or after school hours in 200 of the schools offering this program. Concurrently, 150 Community Teaching Assistants work with the classroom teacher during school hours to assist with standard teaching process and work within the classroom.

 Regular teachers from 100 of these selected schools were also trained to improve upon teaching a curriculum geared toward recognizing  children’s learning abilities and better aligning teaching methods to them.. This will ensure that no child is left behind and that, as the TCAI slogan goes, “Every child counts, every child can.”

 A recent monitoring visit by the project team and government officials showed that the project is off to a great start in most schools.

 The next phase of the project will involve re-training all Community Teaching Assistants employed by the  project during the latter part of summer when schools in Ghana will be on vacation.

Officials from Ghana and India in collaboration
Officials from Ghana and India in collaboration

Greetings from Ghana!  First of all, we want to thank you for all your interest and support.  We are excited to share some of the recent activities of our project to improve outcomes in education through a nationwide school assistant program.  Currently, a total of 500 schools across 42 districts throughout Ghana are involved in the Teacher Community Assistant Initiative (TCAI).

The Baseline for the project has been completed in 489 of the 500 schools that are participating in this project. About 32,000 children in Lower Primary grades one to three were tested in numeracy and literacy, among other measurable outcomes, during this exercise.  A year from now, in a follow-up survey process, the children will be tested again to measure changes in learning levels. The main goal of the intervention is increasing students’ learning levels in numeracy and literacy and successful transition into the next schooling levels.

In December 2010, high level Ghanaian government officials, numbering eight, visited India for an exposure trip to understand different models of remedial education run by non-state actors, mainly Pratham, and government ministries.  This was very beneficial as the TCAI program in Ghana is a collaborative process, involving both government and NGO partners; there was much opportunity to gain operational and programmatic insight. It was a truly inspiring trip in terms of cultural collaboration and willingness to share and learn best practices of a proven intervention in education!

The team is currently very busy identifying the Teacher Community Assistants that will be employed by the project. These assistants will be identified from the community and, to this end, the project is engaging school management committees to aid the process of identifying dedicated people. The identified assistants will then be trained and assigned to schools to begin working with classes.

The project’s implementation team is also preparing a nationwide campaign to build awareness and to further publicize the program. Some of the key activities will include visits to  the communities that house schools involved in the program. During these visits and others, program staff will share information about sharing the program and its components to community leaders, school teachers, school management committees and other relevant stakeholders. The objective of this nationwide campaign is to encourage community involvement in program implementation.

We are all hard at work but will continue to be in touch as the project progresses!

River crossing during the baseline survey
River crossing during the baseline survey

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Project Leader

Heidi McAnnally-Linz

New Haven, CT United States

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