As 2022 draws to a close, Montrose reflects on the research undertaken in Ghana on complementary basic education (accelerated learning). Montrose, supported by the UK government’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office in Ghana, has been implementing research to support the Government of Ghana’s Complementary Basic Education (CBE) programme.
The research began in 2019 and aimed to track children who had been involved in Cycle 4 of the CBE programme in 2016-2017 and then transitioned into mainstream school in 2017-2018. The intention was to understand the impact the CBE programme has on retention, attainment and learning outcomes as well as exploring the barriers to staying in school that children experience. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent closure of schools across Ghana meant that the research was delayed and Montrose, with FCDO agreed to pivot and use the opportunity to explore the impact of the CBE programme that was adapted in response to the pandemic and enabled out of school children to continue in an accelerated learning programme.
As classes began to return to normal in mid-2021, Montrose was able to re-engage with the original research plan. Between October 2021 and July 2022, Montrose visited schools twice to survey and engage children, teachers and parents in focus group discussions to understand the impact of the CBE programme on learners and in particular girls. We explored the challenges learners face to staying in school and learned that social protection factors play a key role in retention. We also undertook an assessment to measure learning outcomes of children. 70% of CBE learners have a satisfactory or above reading comprehension.
A major contributing factor to successful learning among children is the perception and value placed on education by parents. 82% of parents of CBE learners expressed that they highly value education with one parent from Nawuhugu community in Gushegu District saying “I do not burden them, especially the girls with household chores, so that they can get to school early”, which demonstrates a change in the parents’ attitude since the child was previously out of school and has been through the CBE programme. The attitudes and approach of teachers towards learners is also important. The research found that overall teachers perceive that CBE learners have average or above learning, especially in mathematics. The improvement in learning in the class is not restricted to only CBE learners and that the whole class benefits as noted by one headteacher from Lawra, “Extra-curricular activities have increased the enrolment levels of the school. The academic performance of the children has also improved significantly due to the participation of the CBE graduates in extra-curricular activities.”
The research is important as Ghana enters a new phase of CBE through the Ghana Education Outcomes Project. Montrose, in partnership with Street Child, SEND Ghana and Chance for Childhood will be launching a new round of accelerated learning programmes to reach 20,000 out of school children between 2023 and 2026. The findings and learning from the research will ensure the new programme is designed to continue to improve retention and learning among out of school children and strengthen mainstream schools for transitioning students and children already in school.