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Impact of COVID-19 on La’Angum Learning Center in Northern Ghana

Fortuitously the Northern Region of Ghana has had few reported cases of COVID-19; Executive Director Emerita Alice Iddi-Gubbels and Program Director Baba Bukari are happy to report that the La’Angum Learning Center (LLC) and PAMBE Ghana family are currently healthy. Strict orders from the Ghanaian government required all schools including LLC to suspend in-class learning in March. Recently, the Ghanaian Education Service phased in classroom openings for older students, but this reopening did not extend to elementary schools. The abrupt school closure presented immediate challenges as LLC students live in several villages that in the main lack electricity and internet. The kind of home-based online learning implemented in parts of the United States – albeit with mixed results – is not possible at all in this region. Stressed children and their parents are eager for school to begin again.

Since March, PAMBE Ghana has continued to pay LLC teachers and staff, who have spent this time of closure furthering their own educations and designing a plan to engage with students in the four communities served by LLC. Teachers will travel to each village and meet with groups of 3-4 children at one time to review concepts and distribute worksheets. They expect to meet with 2-4 groups of children per day. Once all students have been reached, the teachers will begin the rotation again, reviewing worksheets, reinforcing and extending concepts and helping the students feel connected to school. In these visits, the teachers also will meet with parents to teach them about COVID-19 precautions and to ask parents to let their students engage with the visiting teachers. If permitted, future plans include allowing older and prior students to visit the LLC library and computer lab on an ad hoc basis.

Program Director Baba Bukari used his time this Spring to help LLC teachers gain computer literacy skills. In 2019, the Ghanaian Education Service announced a new curriculum with an emphasis on digital literacy, and the pandemic has created an immediate need to master and utilize these critical computer skills. The LLC teachers have met twice a week from March-July in the LLC computer lab with the school’s ICT (technology) teacher to improve their facility with and expand their skills on computers as well as smart phones. Teachers are now using these new skills to hold weekly virtual staff meetings from their various home villages – even though to connect they must go to a specific internet access location. Despite these advances, virtual classroom learning remains untenable as LLC students lack electrical power, suitable internet connections and devices at home, and data remain very expensive.

While distancing, handwashing and mask protocols are in place throughout the Northern Region, much of the local economy is informal and depends heavily on social interaction. Thus, work such as gathering and selling firewood or bringing crops to market still continues. The president of Ghana has shown strong leadership and broadcasts weekly addresses to the nation to inform the population about COVID-19.

 


 

Did you know?

PAMBE Ghana’s teachers presently earn less than those who serve at Ghanaian Education Service (“GES”) schools and La’Angum Learning Center risks losing Montessori trained teachers to the GES. Thanks to the generosity of the Liddell Foundation and Mother Huggers, PAMBE Ghana will begin to implement its long-time plan of responsibly raising teacher salaries. Please join Mother Huggers by making a tax deductible donation to support increased teacher compensation. Please see more at motherhuggers.us to see that organization’s good work done locally and internationally