FBB supporter brings e-readers to Ghanaian school


When Jeff Strang, an FBB supporter and donor, was a Peace Corps volunteer in Ghana in 1980-82, he met a fellow teacher, David Dogbe. “I lived next door to David and his lovely family of five,” says Strang. “I ate with them a lot; his wife, Judith, was an excellent cook.”

Over the years, they’ve kept in touch. With financial assistance from Strang, David undertook a Ph.D. in England, and after retiring at age 60, he founded the Awo Memorial School in Sogakofe. The school is named for Dr. Dogbe’s mother, and provides daycare, preschool, and elementary school for a struggling population. “Dr. Dogbe gets modest school fees from the families of the children, and many families aren’t able to meet their payment obligations,” Strang explains. “Of course, it’s a struggle financially, but they were able to buy some land of their own recently and are putting up a school building.”

Strang, who has supported the Awo Memorial School in the past, heard about Foundation Beyond Belief’s Q2 2014 Education beneficiary, Worldreader, from a National Public Radio story, and it struck a chord with him. He offered to fund a Worldreader kit for Dr. Dogbe’s school.

“The e-readers’ access to books in such a compact form helps with the children’s proficiency in both Ewe (the local language; Ghana’s the size of Oregon and has 60 different languages) and English, which will help them get a better job and better education,” Strang enthuses.

Dr. Dogbe recommended a kit of 25 e-readers as a good size for the school, and Strang worked with Worldreader and the school to slot everything into place. The donation also served to mark Strang’s visit to the school to help dedicate the new school building.

The program is about more than just the donation of the devices, he adds: “A kit includes the e-readers and staff training. While we were visiting, Joseph Botwey and Sammy Alomenu from the Worldreader office in Ghana came and gave Dr. Dogbe an orientation to the e-reader program and a list of books that they could load onto the devices.”

Ongoing maintenance is an important part of the program. “Joseph and Sammy will be returning in September to train the teachers on the devices and program. One staff member will be the designated Project Manager, responsible for managing the charging, use and upkeep of the e-readers, and must report to Worldreader three times per year.”

Worldreader’s program assessment has found that children with access to their e-book library have better reading fluency, improved listening comprehension, a smaller gender gap in reading skills, and improved English reading skills–all without the infrastructure and distribution networks required to bring physical books to hundreds of schools across vast regions. What’s more, thanks to Strang, the infrastructure is now in place to gain access to a constantly growing library of books in Ewe and English, helping to break the cycle of poverty and drastically boost learning at Awo Memorial School.

Worldreader’s work primarily addresses the goal of Millennium Development Goal 2 (achieve universal primary education). To learn more about Worldreader’s projects, visit their website, or catch up with them on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, or their blog.