As the world marked the second annual World Read Aloud Day, last week, Ericsson in conjunction with Airtel Ghana, exposed the power of broadband, enabling online, real time connection of students from three Ghanaian schools, to their counterparts in the USA, in a real life interactive reading exercise.
The three schools are Opoku Ware in Kumasi, Osu Home Junior High School and Boundary Road Cluster Junior High Schools in Accra, connected to Sidwell Friends School and Arts & Technology Academy (ATA) both in Washington D.C., Bronxville Public Schools in New York, and to New Village Academy, in California, USA.
The World Read Aloud Day is a day set aside to celebrate the power of words and stories and take action for global literacy. It was organized by a nonprofit organization, Litworld , headed by renowned literacy educator and advocate Pam Allyn.
The Read Aloud Day reached 35 countries and 40,000 participants in 2010 and this year’s celebration marks the expansion of the existing partnership between Ericsson and Airtel Ghana to Accra, with MCI and the City of Kumasi.
In 2010, Ericsson and Airtel Ghana had enabled Internet broadband connectivity to 18 junior and senior high schools in these areas as part of a MCI project to train teachers in the uses of technology and the Internet, using same for teaching the students science, math and IT.
During a 3_way video conversation, a collective story written by Sidwell Friends students and Opoku Ware students was shared alongside original stories from ATA student teams. Thereafter, they sang and danced and the students were then encouraged to discuss and ask each other questions. The questions centred on the importance of reading, how they liked to read aloud to their friends or what languages they speak and so on. The Washington students were very impressed at the number of languages spoken by the young Kumasi students.
Susan Blaustein, MCI Co_Director, who watched the live exchange from ATA, says: “the students were so excited to meet and speak with their peers in Ghana. They are already making plans for the next intercontinental Read Aloud Skype date, to be accompanied, by showing and teaching each other a local song and dance.
At Osu Home Junior High in Accra, and Bronxville Public Schools in New York, the Mayor of Accra and the Mayor of Bronxville read to children who then read to each other and enjoyed a cultural exchange.
For Alan Triggs, head of Ericsson Ghana, “it was a fantastic journey of discovery for the children, during which they made new friends of different cultures and explored life as children on another continent. For Ericsson this is part of our broader commitment to Connect to Learn, a global educational initiative promoting access to secondary education. The first schools connected are in Ghana, and it quickly becomes obvious to see what broadband and Internet can do for education in Africa.”