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The US government through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has signed a cooperation agreement with UNICEF to improve learning outcomes and equitable and inclusive education in Ghana with a focus on early grade reading. This is expected to be achieved over the next four years.

“USAID is excited to join in partnership with UNICEF, Ministry of Education and Ghana Education Service to bolster basic education priorities of improving reading, good management and accountability,” said Jim Beaver the USAID Mission Director in Ghana.

“Ghana’s early grade learners will have greater opportunities to build their foundational reading skills, which are directly linked to success later in life. Establishing these strong building blocks in reading will help Ghana’s children learn to read so that they can read to learn.”

With an added contribution of US$ 14.5 million, USAID’s support will expand much of UNICEF’s work with the Ministry of Education through Ghana Education Service to contribute to improving learning of children in kindergarten, including vulnerable and/or at risk populations such as out of school children, girls and children with learning difficulties.

According to the Ghana Education Service, (GES) the quality of education in Ghana has declined, with only 16 per cent of grade six students proficient in mathematics for example and only 35 per cent proficient in English, according to the 2011 National Education Assessment.

Girls from northern Ghana also average only four years of education, three years less than the national average. And 20 per cent of children with physical disabilities are not attending school, according to the 2010 national census.