For a community to truly develop, quality education must be an area of focus to ensure that development is long-lasting and sustainable. That is why United Way Ghana’s flagship program Improving Basic Education aims at improving access to and delivery of quality education in underserved communities. John Deere Financial, a corporate institution with an interest in promoting childhood literacy, had their staff put together personalized literacy kits to be donated to United Way Ghana’s beneficiaries in underserved schools.

On 6 th November, United Way Ghana collaborated with John Deere Financial to engage the pupils of Darul Hidjra Islamic School in various literacy activities and donate 148 literacy kits to the school. Each kit contained a calculator, a memory game, an eraser and sharpener, pack of pencils, piggy bank, a pencil case, a note of encouragement and a storybook. The event was centered on the storybook, “A Chair for My Mother”, because of the themes of savings, service to community and family.

United Way Ghana volunteers together with teachers of the school engaged the pupils during the event. The kindergarten and lower primary pupils had a fun time telling stories and answering questions that tickled their imagination and boosted their confidence. Any passerby would wonder why there were giggles, laughter and shouts coming from their classrooms. The volunteers took on the persona of various characters from the book and you could see the pupils sitting at the edge of their seats with delight.

In upper primary each pupil wanted to take part in the pre-reading activity; a memory game designed to challenge and improve their powers of recollection. After several minutes after the majority of pupils had taken their turn, they settled down to read the story. After reading the story, the volunteers tested the comprehension skills of the pupils. This was done through oral quizzes, discussion of what they recollected from the story and lessons from the book. The final act was the distribution of the literacy kits to each pupil which led to an eruption of applause and showers of thanks.

As the pupils opened their kits, they were so glad to have their personalized notes. The smiles on their faces as they dug through their kits was contagious. The storybooks were coveted by their seniors who also wished to have their own copy to take home. For some of these pupils, the contents of the kit will go a long way to boost their desire for independent reading and thinking about how a little savings can make a difference.

The entire cohort of junior high school pupils were engaged in a quiz competition on the book. As the quiz progressed, their cheers could be heard from every area of the school.The three classes in their various sections were represented by their best teammate. Even the teachers got caught up in the quiz excitement, wanting their pupils to showcase their intelligence. Each class representative was awarded a literacy kit to encourage them to keep taking their studies seriously. The session ended with lessons on financial literacy.

After the event, a pupil from class 6 shared, “I really enjoyed the memory game. I wish we could keep playing it all day. The story was nice too, but it’s the game I like best. I will teach my siblings how to play it so we can play it every day”.

One of the teachers also commented, “We are happy when United Way Ghana visits our school because we know that there is always something good in store for our pupils.”

The handwritten notes from the staff of John Deere Financial for each recipient of the kit will go a long way to encourage the pupils. The books were really special to them as well because, for some, this was the first book these pupils ever received. Through this event, United Way Ghana and John Deere Financial are able to support in the attainment of the 4 th, 11 th and 17 th Sustainable Development Goal, quality education, sustainable cities and communities and partnership for the goals.