After the co-founders, Katie and Richard spent time talking to the District Director, the Head Teacher and English Teachers, Pen to Paper Ghana has been able to start its literacy programme.
Since the teachers knew the abilities of the students, they were able to allocate an appropriate group of 16 girls to our literacy project; they are aged 13-16 and are all from the same Junior High School in Kumasi. The programme is currently being run solely by Katie and Richard; to start the programme, they needed to understand the range of abilities and therefore they initially assessed their reading aptitudes. The assessment consisted of 4 different sections:
- Letter sounding – this involved a list of the letters of the alphabet in a random order and the student had to give the sound of each letter. (N.B. This is a technique known as phonics)
- Word recognition – in this part of the assessment the student was shown 30 high frequency words printed in a random order and had to read them out.
- Phonemic blending – this consisted of 32 high frequency phonemically regular words printed in a random order for the student to read out.
- Reading a book – each student was given a book and asked to read a short paragraph.
From individually assessing each student, the results were that only one out of the 16 knew how to sound the letters out; the others named the letters, rather than the sound. The one that could use phonics, was able to read all 62 words; she could also use this technique to help her to read the more difficult words from the paragraph in the book she was given. One other student was able to read all 62 words but, at the other end of the ability range, 3 students were unable to read any words and one could not name the letters of the alphabet. Of the 11 that could read some of the 62 words, they were observed to be reading from memory, rather than phonetically. Sometimes they read the words incorrectly, for example, saying ‘ball’ instead of ‘pal’ and ‘you’ instead of ‘your’.
The assessment demonstrated that the students were not familiar with phonics, which could therefore be used beneficially as a tool to assist them with their reading. In the following weeks the staff of Pen to Paper Ghana will introduce the concept of phonics and the phonetic alphabet to them, continually observing and monitoring their progress.