Precious Akplome, Executive Director of Precious Inspire, in this exclusive interview, shares the contribution of this organization seeking to organise reading clinics for children, enhance education and youth development, promote women empowerment and child welfare.
Understanding Through Reading
Reading is the most crucial tool at all levels of education. Acknowledging this, the reading clinic Project under Precious Inspire works to create a culture of reading for children by providing inspiring books and literacy programs across Ghana, especially for children in rural areas.
The valuable contribution of Precious Inspire Organization becomes even more important when we take into account a 2015 Early Reading Grade Assessment (EGRA) conducted among primary two pupils across the public schools in the 10 regions of Ghana, which indicated that the majority of children in grade two lacked the foundational concepts and skills that they will need to succeed at the grades four and six.
Only 2% of the pupils in grade two were able to read. The other 98% were not able to read with fluency and accuracy, which prevented them from reading with comprehension.
“If pupils are not able to read, they certainly cannot fully understand what is being taught. This also affects overall performances in school. It is therefore necessary that the culture of reading is inculcated in these young ones.”
Akplome thought and with this premise in her mind, she decided to improve learning abilities of children by cultivating a reading culture, inspiring the love for reading and creating a conducive environment for learning outside the classroom which will in turn help them as they progress.
Inspiring the Initiative
In a nutshell, the main focus is on the organisation of reading clinics to inculcate in children the culture of reading and encouraging the spirit of volunteerism among the youth of Ghana and beyond.
It has organised such reading clinics within eight locations in three regions namely Eastern, Volta and Greater Accra Region respectively with over 500 learners turning up at each reading clinic.
But, where did the inspiration come from?
While Akplome was young, she found it very difficult to read. But, she was not alone in her struggle. A lady teacher by the name Mad. Patience Dumehasi from another school helped her to pick up her phonics and this became the building blocks for her reading skills. The inspiration to become a teacher steamed right away.
During the early days of her teaching career, she realised most of her students had similar reading problems just as she had when she was young and looking back at the intervention offered to her.
On that account, she decided to do the same to her students and any other students facing the same problem, no matter where they were from or their social status.
Her initiative provides them with a unique and useful atmosphere that encourages children to learn through reading, cultivate healthy reading habits among children based on the saying “readers are leaders”, in this form making the reading and learning process a fun experience for the children.
Akplome, a professional teacher with 13 years teaching experience, further elaborates how a reading clinic works and what are its main benefits.
Children’s Activities Inside the Reading Clinic
Initially, she states that the reading clinic has a sequence of activities that the children are taken through during the reading clinic
“To begin with, children are grouped according to their class levels and a volunteer attached to each of the groups-there are instances where out of school children attend these clinics, in such situations we assign them with volunteers who are good with phonics so they are helped with letter identification and pronunciation.”
Furthermore, children are allowed or guided to pick age appropriate story books for reading after which they are allowed to read with or without minimal assistance from volunteers.
“After each reading session, children are then given the chance to review the books they have read using a book review sheet which is being provided at the start of the clinics or using an art work or role play.”
Also, the word pronunciation technology found on Google and other online and offline dictionaries are also played through speakers which the children repeat after.
“This is to also help the children learn word pronunciations on their own when they come in contact with smartphones.” Akplome explains.
Finally, children are allowed to share their experiences followed by indoor and outdoor activities.
Whereas, the host towns are selected based on the degree of their problems as compared to others.
“Volunteers are mostly youths more especially from the host town and the surrounding towns this is done as a way of motivating the young ones who look up to them and get reassured that they can also be like them one day.”
Precious Inspire also makes donations to some selected institutions, orphanages and children’s homes.
Akplome says that the donations are aimed at providing reading materials to such underprivileged children in the rural communities and the orphanages to inculcate the spirit of giving in them.
“This will enable them to grow to become supporters of such voluntary works in future when successful.”
Some communities visited by Precious Inspire were so much enthused about the project as they adopted it and started a radio reading program for students within the North Tongu constituency in the Volta Region of Ghana.
Precious Inspire was involved in partnership with Rural Progress, Ghana, a non-governmental organisation.
Youth and Technologies
From her point of view, what has changed in youth’s role in your cause since the founding of the organisation is the increasing obsession of using technology among the youth.
“They are more interested in pictures than texts therefore though obsessed with smartphones especially, they lack interest in reading textual documents. They are not fully utilizing their technology at their disposal to their fullest capacity.”
According to her, this is because while many are underprivileged of access to technology due to poverty, others who have them lack guidance and education on how to make good use of the technology.”
She believes that the biggest challenge faced by today’s youth is unemployment, social vices and peer pressure influences.
Precious Inspire’s greatest desire remains to establish a library in each of the communities visited since this will help sustain the reading habits. They are calling upon philanthropists and all individuals to partner with them in achieving this dream.
If you affiliate with their mission which envisions a country in which well-educated young person’s contribute to lifting their families and communities out of poverty, you can become a volunteer today by checking out HERE the opportunities to get involved.
Photos: Precious Inspire Organization
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