The human resource base of every nation remains its greatest asset. But more important is the literacy rate of the population which forms the human resource base.
In a world highly characterized by information communications technology (ICT) where access to information has become a key prerequisite for success in almost every endeavor, what one knows is what separates them from others.
The institution of a culture of Reading has therefore become extremely necessary if any society is to remain competitive in the global age. Over the years, the culture of reading which used to be the bedrock of our educational system and society has gradually dwindled with many Ghanaians shying away from reading to sophisticated audio-visual means of information. This we know has exposed our society especially the youth to all forms of anti-social behaviors that has led to a sharp decline in moral standards and low standards in grammar. Poor reading habits have crippled the development of a vibrant national literacy culture and impacted negatively on the growth of authorship and general writing skills.
There is a need to therefore bring to the fore the critical importance of building a reading society if we are to remain competitive in the global market which is underpinned by a cutthroat competition. The Ghana Reads campaign is a project designed to help promote a culture of reading among Ghanaians especially the Youth.
What is the Ghana Reads Campaign?
The Ghana Reads campaign is a Youth Icons Ghana project aimed at bringing to the fore the critical importance of reading to the overall development of the individual Ghanaian through the promotion of a vibrant reading culture.
Why Ghana Reads Campaign?
A knowledge based society is extremely crucial in today’s world and the only way a people can remain competitive is to access knowledge through reading. It is common knowledge that one cannot share what they do not have or know. Knowledge has become a source of power and a key prerequisite for development.
The need to drum home the importance of reading as a way of promoting a vibrant reading culture has become extremely important because standards in the educational system of Ghana over the decades continuous to take a nose dive. Standards in both written and spoken English have sharply declined leaving us with lowering in standards. Students can hardly construct a sentence in English without making grammatical errors, something which was not the case a couple of years back. It is common knowledge that reading improves both spoken and written language. There is therefore the critical need to stimulate reading as a tool for education and enlightenment, entertainment and relaxation in children and young adults both in and out of school.
How? (Methodology) - Awareness Creation
The Ghana Reads campaign would be highly driven by music first and foremost as part of an awareness creation strategy. The project ambassador, Obour, has composed a song around which the campaign would evolve to stimulate a national debate on the lowering standards in education largely due to lack of reading among students and the general Ghanaian populace. The campaign song would enjoy massive airplay to ensure that the critical message of the need for reading is spread far and wide and across the ten regions of the country.
We would embark on speaking engagements of selected schools in each region to drum home the need for students to read if they were to succeed in their education and remain relevant thereafter.
Reading clubs would be instituted in every district of Ghana in collaboration with other stake holders like the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of local Government and District Assemblies. The reading club is a strategy adopted to ensure that children are not left on their own to read but to have supervisors who would help them with words difficult to pronounce and understand. It is also to promote group discussions as a way of building the confidence level of children. Senior High School graduates awaiting results, as well as trained teachers would be recruited on voluntary basis to oversee the clubs which would be made up of 50 children at most.
The reading club idea is to bring children in a particular community together every Saturday afternoon to read story books and answer questions under the supervision of a teacher. The clubs would not take the strict form of a classroom but a more informal and interactive one. Here every child would be encouraged to read. The clubs would be given set targets to achieve in terms of number of books to be covered within a period of six months after which children would be expected to answer questions from what they have read. Children who excel would be given book prizes and other items like chocolates, biscuits, toffees and thinker toys.
This is to serve as a motivation for club members to also put up their best. The reading clubs at the various district levels would be coordinated by the district director of education who would report on progress made to Youth Icons Ghana through the District Chief Executive. After the six months gestation period, a regional reading competition would be organized based on the books assigned and a quiz organized to reward the best region. This would be followed by a national reading and quiz competition every year.
The sustainability of any project is as important as its implementation. To ensure that the Ghana Reads campaign meets the reasons for which it was implemented, a conscious effort would be made to provide ten (10) libraries in some deprived communities in all ten regions of Ghana. The Library is to provide a basis for reading clubs to access books. The provision of community libraries which are currently non-existent even in the cities would go a long way to help push the reading agenda forward. Apart from the 10 libraries that would be provided as part of the campaign, corporate institutions and other stakeholders both private and public would be encouraged to establish community libraries as part of their corporate social responsibilities.
The provision of libraries we believe is crucial to the sustainability of the project. The library projects would be built with the active involvement of the local people to ensure ownership of the property and therefore ensure that they embrace the concept of reading. This way the campaign would become a community owned one thereby ensuring its continuous running. Prior to the establishment of libraries, community leaders and opinion leaders as well as the youth would be schooled on the vision of the project and what it seeks to achieve. This is to ensure that parents and guardians appreciate the critical importance of reading and education in general in helping eradicate poverty.
When parents and guardians buy into the concept, the project would have been a great success because they will ensure that their children enroll with a reading club. Project partners would also take the pain to solicit for story books and novels from book trusts, both local and international to ensure that there were enough books to reach out to as many children that we could. As part of the sustainability plan, a novel per child program would be embarked on to ensure that there were enough books for every Ghanaian child to have access to. This way we would be realizing our objective of getting children to cultivate the habit of reading.
Cost of a library
The cost of one library designed by a professional architect and with local content is estimated at fifty thousand United States dollars ($50,000.00). In fact, efforts have been made by us (Youth Icons Ghana) to build the very first library under the campaign but are taken almost 5years to complete because of lack of funds. We need an estimated ten thousand dollars ($10,000.00) to complete the library which is almost 85% complete.
This project would serve an estimated five thousand school children in the catchment area of a poor and deprived rural community in the northern region of Ghana. We would be happy to solicit your support in helping build libraries in rural Ghana to serve deprived and poor communities where access to books and library facilities are rare. We are ready and open for any further discussion on this project. Thank you!!