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GIF Expands Partnership with Lively Minds to support Ghana’s Early Childhood Care and Education

By Malcolm Spence and Richard Tandoh  |   Posted 12th June 2020

GIF has awarded a $2.7 million grant to current partner Lively Minds to support the Government of Ghana’s efforts to embed the Lively Minds programme in 1,600 kindergartens in four of the poorest regions of Ghana over the next three years.

The Lively Minds programme incorporates community-run educational games in government kindergarten schools. These games are run by community members and designed to encourage the children to think creatively, to solve problems and to question. As they are fun the children do not even realize they are learning.

Encouraging psychosocial stimulation at an early age can generate long-lasting improvements in children’s outcomes, and play based pedagogies are particularly effective. Furthermore, parental involvement is an important contributor to improved educational outcomes in early years and beyond. The challenge is to establish models of parental involvement in early education services that can operate cost-effectively at scale. Although Ghana has made great strides in early childhood care and education (ECCE) in comparison with other African countries, according to a recent Education Sector Analysis the average kindergarten class size exceeds 50 children and all too often schooling doesn’t lead to learning: half of Primary 2 pupils are unable to read a single word.

In total, including this follow-on grant, GIF has provided $4,785,000 to help Lively Minds improve ECCE in Ghana since 2016. This included a grant of $785,000 to the Institute of Fiscal Studies to undertake a randomized control trial (RCT) in partnership with Innovations for Poverty Action. The RCT showed that the Lively Minds programme was effective in improving the school readiness of the children at low cost driven by significant improvement across emergent numeracy, executive functions and fine-motor skills with additional benefits of a reduction in conduct problems and hyperactive behaviors. Parents also benefit from parenting courses as part of their participation in the programme.

This programme has been designed to be delivered through the Ghana Education Service (GES) and the scale-up will be carried out as an official programme of the GES. Lively Minds will provide training, technical assistance, and district-level capacity building to enable the programme to be embedded and sustained. This important dynamic offers the potential to drastically increase reach of an impactful innovation through public sector pathways, benefiting half-a-million children in the period of funding. This partnership with Living Minds contributes to a number of the UN Sustainable Development Goals including fighting poverty (SDG 1), providing quality education (SDG 4) and promoting gender equality (SDG 5).