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Jul 23, 2015 11:11 EST

Help Get Ghana Reading – By Phone: Support PhonicsGhana’s innovative approach to teacher training – and connect with a teacher in a remote village

iCrowdNewswire - Jul 23, 2015

Help Get Ghana Reading – By Phone

Please help us get Africa reading – by improving the skills of a new teacher 

1. What’s our mission?

Phonics by Phone trains teachers to teach reading using the mobile phone that’s already in their pocket.  We need your money and your time to support this network of motivated teachers in remote villages in Ghana.


2. What’s in it for you? 

  • If you wish, you’ll connect directly with a highly committed teacher who is close to qualifying. Share in their struggles and successes. Experience one-to-one the life of a young man or woman who has volunteered in very tough circumstances to educate their entire community. Establishing a personal connection like this, across continents, is a rare privilege – you have something unique to give, but also to gain, from it!
  • You’ll help us achieve a miracle – reading success for huge numbers of children in Ghana. If properly taught using phonics, all these children will learn to read and write well, rather than drop out of school early.

3. How does it work?

In parts of northern Ghana most of the teachers are unqualified community volunteers. They teach every day but are not even paid!  They need your support. Go to our website and open the page “Teachers on the map“.  Each pin represents a teacher, and the community where he/she teaches.  Click on a pin and you’ll see pictures of themselves, their class, their home and their motivation. We’ll invite you to communicate with one of these teachers one-to-one as a pen-pal.  (Not compulsory of course – you can also donate without becoming a pen-pal – but our teachers in Ghana really long for that human contact and support.) Then click the “Support” button and we’ll send you an email that will guide you through the process.

4. What’s phonics?

There is plenty of evidence proving that phonics is by far the best way to teach children to read and write.  Phonics means using the sound of each letter and combination of letters, not the name.  It’s the code that transforms strings of letters into words and sentences. Children learn to blend and segment sounds and become confident readers.   You are reading this – obviously you can read. Just imagine life if you couldn’t!  Sadly, phonics is not yet well understood in Ghana – but the teachers are very receptive, so we know it will work on a larger scale.  Once most early-grade teachers in Ghana use this approach, literacy rates could soar to levels comparable with those in developed countries.  You can get our course on your own phone, just as the teachers in Ghana do, by clicking on this link.  It  comprises 100 lessons based on Debbie Hepplewhite’s work published by Phonics International. We have a sister website for supporting graphics and teaching materials here.

5.  Why reading matters

Ghana has made good economic progress in recent years but the benefits are not evenly spread. Remote communities are very poor – most adults live on less than $1.50 a day, putting them within the UN definition of extreme poverty. Children can only break out of this cycle of deprivation if they get a good education.  Most children do go to school regularly but class sizes are very large and teacher training is inadequate. Currently, only 2% of children aged 8 or 9 attending state schools can read fluently – the equivalent figure in rich countries is over 85%. 

6.  500 teachers signed up already

Across these deprived districts, thousands of community volunteers have stepped forward to become teachers. They are being trained to a full qualification through distance learning and will qualify in July 2016.  But their training includes only a few hours on how to teach reading. To supplement this we have created a systematic course in phonics, available free to download on a mobile phone. We have enabled teachers to access the course free – no fees, and no airtime charges – on the phone they already have.  There are excellent phone networks all over Ghana.  We have purchased SD memory cards (2GB  capacity) which we make available to our signed-up teachers at low cost.  Thus every teacher in the country can access the course.  So far 500 teachers have signed up and another 250 are in the pipeline; we expect to grow this number further.

7.  What do we need the money for?

We need your money for three things: to sustain this highly cost-effective project; to make new audio units and create linked materials; and to build the network of teachers into a self-help learning community, where teachers respond to each others’ questions. 

8. What do we need your time for? 

We’d love to hook you up with one of our Ghana teachers  – via email or better still via the secure Private Messaging system on our website, which the teachers can access free on their phone.  (It’s your choice, of course, but our teachers really thirst for this kind of pen-pal contact, whether or not you are a teacher yourself.)  You can meet the teachers in advance by hovering your mouse over each pin onthis map 

THANKS FOR YOUR TIME AND GENEROSITY.  IT’S GOING TO MAKE A HUGE DIFFERENCE.
 

What happens next? Please help find others to support us!

If you’ve pressed “Support” and checked out, that means you have committed (pledged) to pay that sum if we hit our target – but you have not yet paid. We will write to thank you immediately, but the actual charge to your credit card etc will not be taken until 7 August – and even then, only if we make the target.  That’s why this is very high stakes for us – it’s literally all or nothing.  Please help us to make it “all” by copying this link launchgood.com/phonicsghana to every person you know who might help fund us and hit the target!  Please become, in effect, a campaigner for us.

UK donors – sterling and Gift Aid

We will mainly receive pledges in sterling but can also receive US dollars.  We are a UK registered charity, so if you are a UK taxpayer we can recover 25% Gift Aid on your donation, making it go much further.  After you’ve pledged (via the orange “Support” button at the top right) we will contact you and invite you to sign a simple tax declaration.  You can still pay your money to us through this website, or offline but pledging it here, and we will handle the Gift Aid recovery immediately after payment.

PayPal?

If you prefer to use PayPal please consider at check-out making your pledge a payment off-line to [email protected]  You will get an immediate acknowledgement from us just as if you made the payment directly by credit card.  Such payments can also recover 25% Gift Aid as above.

Is this project, and this website, just for Muslims?

Not at all. The majority population of northern Ghana, and hence many of our teachers, are Muslims.  However, many others are Christians, of all denominations. They all need support equally!  We are keen to enable pen-pals to pick a link with a teacher of their choice, and religion might or might not play a part in that – so in the info supplied on “Teachers on the map” we have added that information.  As to this website, we have chosen it because it too is ecumenical and it also offers the most cost-effective platform for us to run this campaign.  It provides crowdfunding for incredible Muslims – and incredible non-Muslims too!

If I pledge/donate through this site, will I be bombarded with emails about this or other projects that don’t interest me?

No.  You can explicitly opt out of updates about this project.  If you should get an email or two about other projects, our apologies – but please look for the prominent “unsubscribe” button and as soon as you click this they will cease.

Why are you not using Indiegogo or other crowdfunding site?

Whereas most other sites are for rewards or an expectation of money back and eventual profit, this site specialises in crowd giving,  It’s good at what it does.

Contact Information:

Michael Stark

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