Written by: Jorin Gerloff & Lilly Bess

After nine successful months of the NeedToRead project, we would like to shine a light on two of the students. The one boy, Francis, attended the Brain Class three times weekly, and Lancy was part of the Literacy Class at Aggrey Basic School in Anumle.

Nevertheless, let’s start from where it all begun.

When Jorin and I arrived in early September, the NeedToRead project was on hold due to the unavailability of volunteers. Soon we discovered that we both wanted to revive this project, and soon it became a project close to our hearts. We decided to create two classes: the Brain Class, which is the counterpart to Fafali’s football training (Ball & Brain) and the Literacy Class in the government school Aggrey Basic School. Even though the classes took place at different times and places, the start was the same. The first step was research. We spent almost a month gathering information and broadening our knowledge. I mean, we can both read, but we both didn’t know how complex the structure of the English language can sometimes be. So we also learned about topics like silent-e, digraphs, r-controlled vowels, and vowel teams for the first time. Apart from the technical stuff, we also got a lot of advice from our CEO, Mr. Senyo Sosu, who is a former teacher. 

Lilly during the one of her brain class sessions

After we collected and organized all our data, the next step was to assess the kids. So we tested their abilities at sounding out the letters and reading simple words. Honestly, it’s scary when an eleven-year-old child can’t pronounce the letters correctly. So we analyzed the gathered data and put together three classes. One was the Brain Class, which is held three times a week, which Jorin and I taught together. The other two were at the school, where we both taught alone five times a week in the morning.

So, in October 2023, we started both classes. The first two weeks consisted mostly of us adapting to the class and the teaching in general. I mean, overall, it was the first time that we taught a class every day. Another obstacle was the language. Although everybody in the classroom spoke English, communication sometimes got difficult due to the different pronunciations of words and the limited vocabulary. While progress in the beginning was slow and there were setbacks, we pushed our way through. We were able to widen our knowledge even more and put together efficient techniques, methods, and games to make the lessons fun but nevertheless sufficient. 

After a few months, we could see improvement in every student at different scales. With each topic we dealt with, not only their reading skills but also their confidence in themselves increased. It’s phenomenal to see that somebody who couldn’t tell you the sound of the letters a few months ago can now read texts with grammatical issues almost without help. Realistically speaking, we have to add that they are still not at the level at which they should be according to their age, and they read slowly and still struggle in class. However, we were able to lay the foundation and are building on it. 

Francis sorting out words as part of his assignment during class

Like I mentioned in the beginning, we want to present you with two examples:

Francis, who has attended our Brain Class for 9 months now, mentioned 9 out of 26 letters correctly in the first assessment. Apart from that, he read 2 out of 7 words without a mistake. After completing the Brain Class we let him do the same assessment again. And the result is heartwarming. 26 out of 26 letters and 10 out of 10 words. We are beyond proud of his effort and his success. He told us that even though he still has problems in school, he tries to read the exercises and texts. And that is amazing because we often heard his “I don’t know.” or “I can’t read this!” in class. Overall, the mindset is as important as his already-learned skills. 

Lancy on the other side also showed great progress. In the first assessment, he indeed scored 25 out of 26 letters but read no word correctly. Because he is a student at Aggrey Basic School, he attended the Literacy Class there and came to class every day. Now, after nine months, we let him do the assessment again. And he was able to say all the letters without any mistakes and only read one word incorrectly. 

Jorin spending one-on-one time with Lancy in order to help him read

What an improvement! Now we have changed the system of the class to one-on-one sessions. It’s adorable to see that he almost always comes on time (and not ghana time 😉 ) and is eager to continue reading and practicing.

These testimonies not only encourage us to keep trying to bring the other students to the same level but also show the achievements of Fafali’s work.

So indeed, “Short words are too easy”.

Thank you for reading!