NEWTON, MA | February 21, 2008
U.S. First Lady Laura Bush, accompanying President George W. Bush on a visit to Africa this week, took time out to visit Ghana’s Mallam DA Primary School in Accra, where she helped open a library and “reading hut,” set up and equipped by EDC’s Education Quality for All (EQUALL) project. Mrs. Bush, along with Ghana First Lady Theresa Kufour, visited and read with children in a classroom at the school.
“As a former teacher, I know how important all of our efforts are to improve education for people across the continent,” said Mrs. Bush. “I’m especially happy to be here today and I’m very happy that the people of the United States helped supply your reading hut with good books, and who have helped in your school.”
The visit marked the fifth time in three years that a member of the Bush administration has visited an EDC project in action. In April of 2005, Laura Bush participated in a session at EDC’s Afghanistan Teacher Training Institute in Kabul; Condoleeza Rice saw first-hand our basic education lesson in a classroom in Jakarta, Indonesia in March 2006; President George Bush in November 2006 visited with teachers and students taking part in our education reform efforts in Indonesia; and Laura Bush and daughter Jenna met with teachers and listened to EDC radio education programming during stops at our projects in Zambia and Mali last summer.
In Ghana, the focus on literacy is just one facet of a nationwide program to radically improve teaching and learning throughout the country. The comprehensive project known as EQUALL is part of the Ghanaian government’s ten-year strategic education plan. It is directed by EDC in collaboration with international and Ghanaian partners and funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
Specifically, EDC works with teachers and administrators to improve school participation and instruction by introducing management reforms, improved teacher training, and more effective instructional methods. The effort also aims to increase access to basic education for children—especially girls—who have not had the opportunity for schooling due to social, occupational, cultural, or other reasons. EDC partners with 20 district education offices, working with between 70 and 150 schools in each district, reaching thousands of children throughout the country.
“We were pleased and excited that Mrs. Bush and Mrs. Kufour were able to visit Mallam DA Primary School and experience some of the innovative teaching strategies introduced as part of our Culture of Reading activity,” said EDC project manager Kay Leherr who was on hand. “Their visit reinforced our message about the importance of building literacy skills and making reading materials available, in the school, in the home, and in the community,” Leherr said. The urgent attention to literacy is well founded: Only about 25 percent of Ghanaian students can read at grade level after six years of primary school.
Ultimately, EQUALL is working at many levels to decentralize Ghana’s school system so that local communities have greater control over and a larger stake in the success of their schools. By its conclusion, the project aims to make Ghana’s school system more effective and student oriented, and to develop a culture of reading among young people in a country where literacy and print materials are highly valued.