By Adams Issaka (YES 2008-2009, Ghana, placed by AFS-USA in Walla Walla, Washington)
A theme that cuts across the YES program experience is that from my time on program to my alumni activities is the need to support and positively impact my community. During my exchange year in the U.S., I was an active volunteer and representative of my country. The life-changing experiences one has as a YES student don’t end upon returning home. YES alumni are highly motivated to continue giving back and addressing issues they see in their communities.
Ghana’s Upper West Region consistently sees very low scores on standardized exams. Over the last few years, the region has recorded a below 40% pass rate on the Basic Education Certificate Examination, which is the final exam required for junior high students to qualify for entry into high school. The lack of English skills and confidence is a big contributor to this low pass rate.
To address this issue and support achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goal #4: Quality Education, my team and I applied for a YES Alumni Grant to develop English literacy among students in the city of Wa and improve their confidence and leadership skills.
The Read and Write project taught English to 170 upper primary school students which were from grades 4 to 6, including English grammar, essay writing, listening and comprehension, and speaking to improve participants’ command of the language.
The two-week program was held at the at the Tupaso Centre of Academic Excellence in October. Teachers and volunteers engaged the students through quizzes, take home assignments, essays, videos, presentations, reading circles, and interactive group work. The goal of this project was to increase students’ motivation and excitement about English and education in general and better prepare them for exams.
Following the Read and Write project, my team and I also held a Career Guidance Talk and donated educational materials to Piisi Junior High School because this was a school we were unable to extend the Read and Write project opportunity to during this edition of the project.
My team and I would love to thank the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs for funding this project through the YES Alumni Grants program. We’d also like to thank Home of Light International School and the Tupaso Centre of Academic Excellence for all their support throughout the project. We hope to organize many more projects to support education in the Upper West Region.