Plan Supports Girls' Literacy with USAID-Funded Ghana TAP Project
Implemented by Plan Ghana, the Transition and Persistence (TAP) project was a USAID-funded education project (2010-2013). The project aimed to increase Junior High School (JHS) enrollment and completion rates in 156 junior high schools (JHSs) across 13 districts in 4 regions (Brong Ahafo, Central, Eastern, and Greater Accra) of the country.
With a special focus on girls’ education, TAP included many components aimed at boosting girls’ academic performance and supporting their retention in school. Such activities included the introduction of a TAP-sponsored reading chain at St. Joseph’s R/C JHS in the Greater Accra Region, through which students have become more engaged in reading and have strengthened their analytical skills. The 20 students participating in the reading chain have been meeting every Friday for one hour after class. The club’s facilitator, Eric Gbemu, explained that students took a book home every week and had to return the next week with a full summary, analysis, and list of new vocabulary from their reading.
Pamela, one of the student participants, discussed her favorite book from the reading chain, It’s Not Fair. She explained the plot of the book, which details the life of a family with two sons and one daughter. The girl had trouble finding time to attend school because of her heavy workload in the home. After raising this issue, the girl’s brothers began to help with her chores so she would have time to attend school. This story resonated with Pamela, and from the book she learned that “if we have problems, we should tell our teachers, who will tell our parents."
TAP has demonstrated improvement in the implementation and appropriate use of the reading chain materials among schools. In view of the importance of this activity for improving academic performance, and at the request of most of the schools, TAP supplied more books in 2013. Depending on the performance of each school, TAP provided between 25 to 950 additional books for their libraries.
The administrators and teachers of St. Joseph’s R/C JHS reported that students’ reading levels had improved with the TAP-sponsored library books and reading chains. TAP supported other interventions in the school, including the construction of girl-friendly latrines, a football for development club, teacher trainings, and a Girls’ Club, in which girls learned about such topics as sexual and reproductive health. Six of the students in the Girls’ Club participated in TAP’s annual nation-wide Girls’ Camp with students from other regions, which enabled them to interact with female role models, participate in excursions, and attend trainings on life skills and career counseling, among others.
Over the three years of the TAP project, the enrollment rates at TAP schools consistently demonstrated higher enrollment rates than the baseline enrollment rate, with Year 2 demonstrating the largest increase of 16.3 percent for girls and 10.0 percent for boys. With participation in TAP, St. Joseph’s R/C JHS achieved the second best school ranking in the District and increased its student enrollment.