HRH The Princess Royal Visits Interactive Distance Learning Projects for Marginalised Girls and Boys in Ghana
Royal visit comes as new figures show Varkey Foundation project has delivered more than 700 hours of English and Maths lessons via interactive distance learning technology using solar panels and a satellite connection
HRH The Princess Royal today visited two interactive distance learning projects run by The Varkey Foundation – Making Ghanaian Girls Great! (MGCubed) and Train for Tomorrow. Both projects make use of satellite enabled schools, solar powered computer hardware and an interactive live feed inside the classroom.
Making Ghanaian Girls Great! (MGCubed) is a three-year pilot project, funded by the Department for International Development (DFID)’s Girls’ Education Challenge, that uses interactive distance learning technology to deliver Maths and English lessons daily to marginalized girls and boys in 72 government schools. The schools are equipped with solar panels and a satellite connection in order to link with live broadcasts of the lessons from Studio Teachers, using internationally approved pedagogy, from a studio in Accra.
In addition to the in-school classes, the project delivers for an hour per day an after-school girls' club called ‘Wonder Women’ to up to 50 girls per school, including some out-of-school girls. The sessions cover topics such as early pregnancy, early marriage, reproductive health, financial literacy, career guidance and the environment and introduce girls to adult role models. The goal is to empower the girls and increase their aspiration to stay in school.
The Princess Royal visited the MGCubed studio to see a Wonder Women session broadcast to four districts in Greater Accra – Ada East, Ada West, Shai Osudoku and Ningo Prampram – and also spoke to students participating in the project.
HRH The Princess Royal also toured the Train for Tomorrow studios to meet the Master Trainers and technicians delivering interactive teacher training via distance learning. The Train for Tomorrow project, funded through a $2 million USD grant from Dubai Cares, is Africa’s first live two-way interactive distance learning teacher training programme. Forty ‘hub’ schools are provided with solar powered video-link equipment, allowing trainers in Accra to conduct regular interactive training sessions that focus on cutting-edge teaching methods, including group work, critical thinking, the use of higher order thinking skills, reflection and analysis.
The head teachers and school leaders who participate in these sessions then go back to their own schools and repeat the training for the other teachers in their schools, reaching nearly 5,000 teachers and 90,000 students.
There is a great need for intensive teacher training for working Ghanaian teachers because so many have not been formally trained to teach. According to the Ghanaian Ministry of Education almost 63,000 (45 per cent) of the 138,928 working Ghanaian primary school teachers in public and private schools remain untrained. A further 31,208 (30 per cent) of the 103,358 working Ghanaian Junior High School teachers in public and private schools also remain untrained.
New data published today for both projects shows that:
- 733 hours of English and Maths lessons under MGCubed have been delivered to 14,999 pupils over the first two academic years.
- 125 female role models – including teachers, lawyers, rights activists, health professionals, sports instructors and government officials – have featured in MGCubed’s Wonder Women sessions.
- More than one in five out-of-school girls targeted under MGCubed have already successfully returned to mainstream schooling.
- During the academic year 2015/2016 average attendance in MGCubed’s Maths and English classes was between 78-83%, rising to 85% during the first term of the 2016/2017 academic year.
- 80% of teachers that have gone through Train for Tomorrow reported that they had seen a profound change in the way pupils in their classes were behaving and responding to lesson content.
- Train for Tomorrow is changing teaching practices for the better: from an extremely low base, 74% of observed teachers are now using Lesson Objectives to frame their lessons and over two-thirds of teachers who receive cascaded training report that they have changed the way they teach.
HRH The Princess Royal also met Leonora Dowley, Country Director for Ghana, Varkey Foundation; Jacob Kor (Director General of the Ghana Education Service); Catherine Mikado (Director of the Girls’ Education Unit), Muniratu Issifu (MGCubed Project Manager), Peter Watson (Train for Tomorrow Project Manager) and Emefa Horsoo (Finance Manager).
Vikas Pota, Chief Executive of the Varkey Foundation, said:
“We’re delighted to welcome HRH The Princess Royal to see how the Varkey Foundation’s projects are making a real difference to the education of marginalized children and enhancing the quality of teacher training in Ghana.
“The interactive distance learning model is highly replicable, and following the success of MGCubed and Train for Tomorrow we have just embarked on a new project ‘Teach to Reach Remote Classrooms’ to run interactive distance lessons from our studios in Accra to support children in Ampain Refugee Camp in the Western Region of Ghana.
“Refugee children who are currently out-of-school or at risk of dropping-out will catch up with their basic education and allow them to continue with their secondary education.”