Accra, Ghana — The Mastercard Foundation and UNICEF have joined forces to advance the efforts of the Ministry of Education and Ghana Education Service to provide quality and equitable learning opportunities for more than nine million children in Ghana.
As part of the Mastercard Foundation COVID-19 Recovery and Resilience Program, the two-year program, which commenced in June 2020 and runs until May 2022, supports the implementation of virtual and distance learning through radio, SMS, and online learning platforms which will be made available to children across the country.
Learners are being provided with access to online platforms to engage with GES-approved coursework and materials and screen time with tutors. To ensure equitable access to all, children in remote locations or without access to smart devices will benefit from lessons via community radio stations and SMS.
UNICEF Representative in Ghana, Anne-Claire Dufay said, “Learning has been disrupted for approximately nine million girls and boys in Ghana since the outbreak of COVID-19 in March. While some children have returned, nearly eight million children partially missed out on their third term of this academic year. For the most marginalized, this can lead to negative consequences which may last a lifetime. When children are not learning, they are less likely to break out of the cycle of poverty. Thanks to this strategic partnership with the Mastercard Foundation, UNICEF will support government efforts to ensure innovative opportunities for safe and quality continuous learning for every child.”
In collaboration with identified media organizations in the country, the $4.6 million partnership also provides multiple broadcast courses to learners via TV channels with nationwide coverage. The program includes the development of complementary materials to ensure the protection of vulnerable learners during school closures and when schools re-open in early 2021.
Mastercard Foundation’s Regional Head for Western, Central and Northern Africa, Nathalie Akon Gabala said, “The pandemic has had a multi-faceted impact on education, but those who’ve borne the brunt of its adverse effects are children from vulnerable households and girls. To ensure that the pandemic does not exacerbate existing inequalities, this program is designed to enable learning in the short-, medium-, and long-term—including preparing for potential future crises. Even when schools re-open, we will need to pay special attention to the needs of children who may have fallen further back than their peers and those who are likely not to return. This partnership enables us to safeguard the future of school children in Ghana by ensuring their education does not fall through the cracks.”
In the short-term, the program seeks to ensure continuous learning for children as schools remain closed due to the coronavirus. This includes supporting the development of teaching and learning content that will be broadcast through the Ghana Learning Radio Programme. Learning content will be accompanied by tools to engage parents and caregivers in the learning process through SMS tips. There will also be a focus on implementing teacher training, particularly focusing on the use of remote and distance learning modalities and with specific attention to teachers’ assessment of learning.
In the medium-term, the program will include supporting the re-enrolment of children, particularly girls to school, which includes:
- Sensitization and awareness-raising campaigns aimed at parents/caregivers, traditional leaders, students, and other community members;
- Providing targeted support to vulnerable junior high school girls; and
- Working with the Ministry of Education and Ghana Education Service to ensure schools operate safely during and immediately after the COVID-19 outbreak in Ghana. This includes promotion of good hygiene measures, as well as the implementation of the Re-Entry Policy promoting girls’ re-entry to school following childbirth.
A longer-term response will focus on resiliency planning at all levels of the sector and will be implemented with an aim of building school-level capacity to integrate contingency or emergency preparedness in school-level improvement plans.
Director-General of Ghana Education Service, Prof. Kwasi Opoku-Amankwa said, “Ghana Education Service is aware of the negative impact of COVID-19 on learners, especially for the vulnerable ones. An important lesson the pandemic has taught all of us is that we need to adopt measures that will enable children to learn at home through remote and distance learning service delivery models. At the same time, we need to work together to ensure a quick recovery of the education sector in a manner that guarantees the safety of all learners and staff. Ghana Education Service is working on building a system that will be resilient enough to withstand future shocks and that allows for continuous learning for all children always. Any support in this direction, such as the one coming from this partnership, is well appreciated.”
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is a child-rights international agency, which seeks to support the rights and well-being of every child around the world, particularly the most vulnerable. Operating in more than 190 countries and territories, including Ghana, UNICEF works with governments and partners to advocate, provide technical assistance and mobilize resources for the advancement of the rights of and well-being every child. UNICEF relies on voluntary contributions to uphold its mission of reaching every child. For more information about UNICEF and its work for children, visit www.unicef.org/ghana
About the Mastercard Foundation
The Mastercard Foundation works with visionary organizations to enable young people in Africa and in Indigenous communities in Canada to access dignified and fulfilling work. It is one of the largest, private foundations in the world with a mission to advance learning and promote financial inclusion to create an inclusive and equitable world. The Foundation was created by Mastercard in 2006 as an independent organization with its own Board of Directors and management. For more information on the Foundation, please visit: www.mastercardfdn.org
About the Mastercard Foundation COVID-19 Recovery and Resilience Program
The Mastercard Foundation COVID-19 Recovery and Resilience Program has two main goals. First to deliver emergency support for health workers, first responders and students. Second, to strengthen the diverse institutions that are the first line of defense against the social and economic aftermath of this disease. These include universities, financial services providers, businesses, technology start-ups, incubators, government agencies, youth organizations, and non-governmental organizations. For more on the Mastercard Foundation COVID-19 Recovery and Resilience Program, please visit https://mastercardfdn.org/covid19-recovery-resilience-program/. Follow the Foundation on Twitter at @MastercardFdn.
UNICEF Communication Manager, Ghana: Eulette Ewart, +233 24 433 4996, email@example.com
UNICEF Communication Officer, Ghana: E. Offeibea Baddoo, +233 24 466 3643, firstname.lastname@example.org
Mastercard Foundation Country Lead, Program Communications: Kweku Ahiagble, email@example.com