Israel partners Ghana to launch early Childhood Development Programme

The Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) in partnership with Isreali International Development Agency (MASHAV) on Tuesday launched an Early Childhood Development (ECD) Programme in Accra to improve childhood education in Ghana.

The programme being replicated in Accra Metropolitan Area, was piloted in Kumasi Metropolis in 2008 as a two-year trainer of trainees programme for a core group of kindergarten (KG) Ghanaian teachers mentored by their Israeli counterparts.

The first phase of the programme was aimed at upgrading ECD in Kumasi to suit the cultural needs of the people and introduce the educational philosophy that children learn through play and active experience.

In addition, it would train and empower teachers who would be qualified to train KG teachers and implement the local curriculum in a more flexible manner that would emphasize the “why” and how” in planning the activities.

Theories were drawn from discussions and analyses of activities resulting in the production of games and learning materials using local low cost or no cost materials and also giving the teachers a sense of belonging, love and care towards the children.

The Accra Mayor, Alfred Oko Vanderpuije said ECD was a cardinal part of the Better Ghana Agenda and on this premise that the School Shift System in Accra was abolished to give children eight hours of learning instead of the four hours that existed as well as reduce the large class size.

Under the project, 50 buildings of 18 three-storey classroom blocks are being constructed with the 38th building on course.

Each building has a library, science laboratory, and all necessary equipment needed to upgrade and improve conditions in the schools.

Mr Vanderpuije said equally important was the revision of instructional materials, training of human resource, adding that the ECD programme had come in handy and noted that the successes of the pilot in Kumasi would spur the Accra programme on to higher heights and commended the Kumasi team for a yeoman’s job done.

Mr Samuel Sarpong, Mayor of Kumasi, lauded the programme and said it was the reason why the Kumasi Metropolitan Assembly (KMA) gave it all the needed support in terms of funding for the training of teachers in Israel, provision of modern KG school facilities.

He noted that the programme had boosted the confidence and morale of teachers, children, parents and contributed to low rate of absenteeism.

Israeli Ambassador to Ghana, Sharon Bar-li said the launch of the programme, and expansion of the Millennium City Project in Accra, was expected to be meaningful exposure to greater educator’s audience, to decision and policymakers who would be able to obtain first hand impression of the programme qualities.

She noted that the programme would also benefit local base of experienced KG teachers and supervision that was created over the past three years, which would further strengthen the element of capacity building both in Kumasi and Accra.

Ms Aviva Ben Hefer, ECD Specialist and Project Director, said introducing change was a long and difficult process that must be tackled with sensitivity and respect, without impinging on local and tradition culture.

She said under the project dark and small crowded classrooms with tables and chairs of different heights, children faced by teachers, who stood in front of children holding a long cane at them had been changed to a friendly environment making teaching more participatory and enjoyable.

The training model, she observed needed in the field, should be prioritised through understanding the culture and traditions and yet endeavour to introduce the “Why” and the “How” aspects of activity to existing Ghanaian curriculum which presented only the “What”.

Ms Hefer called on the Ministry of Education, universities with ECD departments and teacher training colleges to adopt a uniform, integrative approach to early childhood education and prepare KG Teachers to implement it in the field.

Source: GNA

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