Bricktown Rotary Club grant funds important LLC literacy projects

PAMBE Ghana is dedicated to teaching children to read both in the local Mampruli language and in English. One hurdle is the paucity of early readers written in Mampruli, as it is primarily a spoken language.

Shortly after La’Angum Learning Center opened in 2008, PAMBE Ghana teamed up with Ghana Institute of Linguistics Languages and Bible Translation (GILLBT) to produce early readers in the Mampruli language. OKC’s Bricktown Rotary Club funded the project, providing the early readers for La’Angum Learning Center (LLC).


A new grant from Bricktown Rotary Club funds three important projects:

First, the grant will provide replacements for the first books, which have worn out after years of exposure to the climate in rural Ghana and many little hands. In addition to the replacements, the Club is funding more story books and alphabet/phonics books for LLC.


Second, To support English language reading skills, PAMBE Ghana recently partnered with a British organization “Let’s Read Ghana”, which conducts 2-day teacher training courses for teaching phonics and reading skills to young children. Funded by the Bricktown Rotary Club grant, LLC teachers traveled to the nearby town of Sirigu and participated in the training course last summer. The funds also allowed LLC to purchase early reading primers in the English language, including Have you seen the girl?

Third, the Bricktown Rotary Club supported our lending library project at LLC, by funding the shipment of 1750 donated books on a cargo ship from OKC to Accra and the materials and labor needed for construction of library bookshelves by local artisans.

Susan Kovats: What is the mission of the Rotary International?

Chuck Shirley: Rotary International is a civic service organization that began with an international focus. One of their first goals was to eradicate polio. Rotary fosters connections between communities, and local clubs often reaching out to provide aid via other national and international clubs during disasters. For example, Rotary Clubs all over the world supported recovery efforts after the devastating Moore tornado in 2013. This spirit informs the Bricktown Rotary Club, which works on international projects as well as projects in the OKC community.

SK: Tell us about the Bricktown Rotary Club and the motivation to support PAMBE Ghana.

CS: One of the 6 pillars of Rotary International is literacy. Our first grant to PAMBE Ghana supported the printing of early readers in the Mampruli language. We saw the impact of those books on the children’s reading skills and we were impressed by the accomplishments of PAMBE Ghana as the first cohort of children graduated from 6th grade last year. Our members were excited about the opportunity to once again work with PAMBE Ghana to help the children of La’Angum Learning Center acquire literacy in the Mampruli and English languages. Bricktown Rotary is a club of younger professionals who are do’ers. We are committed to the community and to each other. In addition to fundraising, members enjoy “hands on” volunteering for local projects. This year members hope to volunteer at the PAMBE Ghana Global Market.

SK: Which factors underlie your personal motivation to work with Bricktown Rotary Club and serve as president?

CS: As I progressed toward a Master’s Degree in Business, I was exposed to volunteering, and I realized that I wanted to be more involved in the community. During an internship in OKC, I was invited to a Bricktown Rotary Club meeting. I found a group of young professionals who wanted to make a difference in the community and to be involved in ways more than simply writing checks. I knew then that I didn’t want to sit on the couch anymore!

SK: What sort of local projects does the Bricktown Rotary Support?

CS: We have supported Chain Reaction – a donated bike program for the homeless and North Winds Living Center – a hospice for persons living with HIV/AIDS. We also sponsored the dragon boat team of NewView Oklahoma - an organization of the visually impaired, and built a tree house for the Boys and Girls Club.

Rainbow of Hope for Children Provides Funding

Thank you to the Canadian Rainbow of Hope for Children (ROHFC) for providing funding to support the PAMBE Ghana Health, Nutrition and Sanitation Program! rainbow-hope1 The objectives of the project are:rainbow-hope3
  1. To provide mid-day lunches for the students to include purchasing food, the salary of a school lunch coordinator, and hauling and transport of foodstuffs from the community and local markets.
  2. To provide basic health care to the 250 students to include paying the National Health Insurance Annual Premium and purchasing first aid products for the school.
  3. To foster sanitation at the school to purchase soap and sanitary related cleaning products.
rainbow-hope2 Previous support from ROHFC in 2013 and 2014 included the funding of particular staffing and operation and maintenance programs at the La’Angum Learning Center. In 2014-15, ROHFC provided PAMBE Ghana with new infrastructure to improve the facilities, specifically building a library and a technology lab, including a system of collecting and storing rainwater for those using these facilities. ROHFC also assisted the Rotary clubs of Wainwright, Alberta, Watford, Ontario and Tamale, Ghana to install solar panels and computers in the technology lab.

Hepatitis B Virus: Screening, Vaccination & Treatment at LLC

Hepatitis B virus has spread and become more prevalent and severe, especially among young people in our communities.  There are many myths about the cause of this viral disease, and modern medicine is often sought as a last resort, when the infection is at an advanced stage.  Sadly, most of such patients die within 6 months.  Indeed, this was the cause of death of our beloved teacher, Issah Musah, in 2009! Happily, Hepatitis B screening, vaccination and treatment are increasingly available in many government and private health facilities. Screening costs Ghc 5 ($1.30) and the 3-dose vaccination costs Ghc 25 ($6.50) per dose.  If infected, the medication for the 6-month treatment is Ghc 50 ($13.00) per month.  These costs are not covered by the National Health Insurance program.  Thus, these services remain out of reach of many people. It is in this light that we embarked on a Hepatitis B screening, vaccination and treatment project in LLC.  In mid April, Alice initiated a collaborative relationship with a nurse at the Gambaga Health Centre and a Lab technician (private) to undertake screening of all 250 students and all PAMBE Ghana staff, volunteer cooks and the two caretakers.  Staff could bring their families, but they would pay the cost.  The team generously reduced the cost of vaccination to Ghc 14 ($3.65) per dose for LLC.6-vaccine The first day began with a Powerpoint presentation by the health team on Hepatitis B, with lower elementary students and their teachers, followed by those of upper elementary. We learned that the liver performs vital functions in the body to keep us healthy and strong, that Hepatitis means inflammation of the liver, and the signs and symptoms of a sick liver. We learned that there are many types of Hepatitis but the focus was on Hepatitis B. 6-vaccine2The computer lab was transformed into a laboratory; the summer hut became the injection room and the library was the consulting room. The nurse drew blood samples and the lab technician did the testing of each sample.  It is worth noting here that our solar system provided power for the lab works. All who tested negative moved on to the summer hut to be vaccinated by the community nurse.  The screening and vaccination was completed the following day.  Nine of the students tested positive. 6-vaccine1 We had a small intimate talk with the students, explaining why they could not be vaccinated and asking them to come to school with their parents /guardians the following morning. The Head teacher and Alice were able to contact the parents directly and invite them. Both parents /guardians of affected students responded to the call. Here too, the health team was very generous.  They offered to test all the parents /guardians and any child who came with them, free of charge.  After a health talk on Hepatitis in general and HBV in particular, and question-and-answer period, the lab technician and his assistant proceeded to test all the parents and the babies and toddlers who came with their mothers. All but one of the positive adult cases were women. Two siblings of one of our students also tested positive, while their father was negative. These results led to the conclusion that most of the infections were from mother-to-child. The lab technician visited with both parents where possible and discussed their test results and the way forward with them.  He encouraged the couples to seek treatment for affected partners as soon as they could and advised the rest to take the 3-dose vaccination, both available in Gambaga for purchase. 6-vaccine3He also discussed the treatment schedule of the LLC students with parents and arranged to meet them the following day with the necessary medication to begin treatment.  PAMBE Ghana took charge of these medications. The nine children will be tested at the end of the 6-month treatment and, depending on the results, will begin the 3-dose vaccination or continue treatment. Your donation today will help pay for this community-wide screening, provide students and family members with preventive vaccinations, and treat those already infected. Please help - click on the DONATE button.

LLC Student Achievement Measured

student-feamle There is no question La’Angum Learning Center has had a huge impact on the remote communities it serves, but how good a school is it?  From the start, the PAMBE Ghana board intended for the school to deliver measurable excellence but has struggled to identify meaningful ways to assess our educational outcomes. One major stumbling block is that the Ghana Education Service (GES) does not administer any standardized assessment test until completion of the 9th grade. We plan to compare our graduates’ outcomes to those from other schools, but this is still three years off, and doesn’t speak to how our students are mastering their own grade school curriculum. GES does provide curriculum guidelines for the elementary grades. LLC has incorporated these achievement levels into our curriculum development so that our graduates may make a smooth transition into the GES-run junior high school system. Our teachers assess student mastery on an ongoing basis. This, however, does not provide insight into how effective our unique program is compared to the traditional GES approach to elementary education. Earlier this year we were disappointed to find ourselves in a blind alley after discovering a report based on a recent grade school assessment test developed by USAID. This report compared student mastery of certain benchmarks in schools across Ghana. We hoped to obtain a copy of this test and administer it to our students so that we could produce an effective comparison of LLC’s performance against GES outcomes regionally and nationally. Unfortunately, the test itself has proved impossible to locate. We will continue to pursue this through our contacts within GES and at USAID. For now, however, we must move on. Through PAMBE Ghana’s relationship with the regional GES office, Alice was able to coordinate development and administration of a 6th grade mastery test, designed by 6th grade teachers to evaluate four benchmarks: English, math, science and citizenship. The resulting data are very promising: LLC students outperformed students at two GES (public) schools and performed equally well as those at another local private school. LLC has the highest score of the combined benchmarks: 185. The other private school achieved the next highest score of 150, while the two GES schools received total scores of 119 and 108. The highest scoring LLC student was a girl who is the first in her family to ever attend school. She scored a total of 295. LLC students were particularly strong in science and math (see graphs showing scores of individual students). Our students’ average science score was 57, followed by the private school with 43, and scores of 40 and 38 for the GES schools. LLC’s average math score was 42 – the next highest score of any of the other schools was 26. This was a first step at creating a meaningful, reliable assessment tool that could be administered each year. We have learned from this experience, and will make changes in the test and in how it is administered. We see that our students have room to improve. We will address that in our ongoing work with teachers and curriculum. PAMBE Ghana analyzed these test results in consultation with Denise Caudill, a former World Neighbors staff member who has lived and worked extensively in Western Africa. Caudill currently consults with nonprofits. Our Board’s curriculum committee—which includes certified Montessori teachers, college professors and other education professionals—will use the results to provide additional teacher training opportunities, classroom materials and curriculum oversight. assessment-scores

Donate Today

Your Donation Today Will Help PAMBE Ghana Provide:
-- Teacher's salary
-- Children’s health insurance
-- Montessori materials
-- Teacher education

PAMBE Ghana is a 501(c)(3) registered charitable organization.