The ‘Enlightening the Hearts Literacy Campaign’, under the auspices of the Olinga Foundation for Human Development, Ghana

Competition Finalist

This entry has been selected as a finalist in the
Champions of Quality Education in Africa competition.



About You

read more↑ hide↑ hide


Project Street Address

11, Subukwe Close, Off Farrar Avenue

Project City


Project Province/State

Greater Accra Region

Project Postal/Zip Code

PO Box 7726, Accra North

Project Country


Your idea

read more↑ hide↑ hide

Country your work focuses on:

Ghana, West Africa

What stage is your project in?

Operating for more than 5 years

What is the average monthly household income in your target community, in US Dollars?


Name Your Project

The ‘Enlightening the Hearts Literacy Campaign’, under the auspices of the Olinga Foundation for Human Development, Ghana

Describe Your Idea



read more↑ hide↑ hide

Describe your idea in fewer than 50 words.

The ‘Enlightening the Hearts Literacy (EHL) Campaign’ is an educational programme reaching more than 400 schools across rural Ghana. Its two main goals are: to improve literacy rates of children aged 9 -15 through better literacy instruction, and to increase capabilities of teachers and children through moral education and personal transformation.

What makes your idea unique?

The EHL Programme uses the syllabic and phonetic literacy approach to enable children to achieve mother tongue literacy within nine months. This literacy approach is based on the usage of meaningful “generative” words enabling children to identify words by a process of breaking them down into syllables, and then generating new meaningful words and small sentences for easy identification and comprehension. The methodology also allows pupils to easily translate these skills to the English language with the result that they can often begin reading in English in a very short time. The innovation has helped to improve literacy instruction in upper primary levels of rural Ghana where high rates of illiteracy among children still exist due to poor quality of primary education; it has helped to preserve local languages and strengthen cultural identity.

The ‘Enlightening the Hearts Literacy Campaign’ believes that both literacy and moral education are essential to the progress and development of society. These values are transmitted into the classroom through child centred teaching methodologies and learning materials which teach simple language acquisition, virtues and moral education using stories. The moral dimension of the programme is a unique approach to personal transformation since most instructional methodology does not integrate the moral dimension in the curriculum. Furthermore, teaching in the local language makes the moral messages more accessible and comprehensive. Another unique feature of the programme is its cost effectiveness which enables schools to benefit from the programme. Teacher training and the provision of learning materials for children, and on site visits cost under 350 US$ per school per year.

What is your area of work? (Please check as many as apply.)

Children & Youth , At risk youth , Behavioral issues , Boys' development , Education , Education reform , Girls' development , Mentorship , Youth development , Youth leadership , Development & Prosperity , Community development , Rural development , Civil rights , Gender equity , Cultural preservation , Ethics , Spirituality .

What impact have you had?

The programme has had impressive literacy results: Comparative studies conducted annually between programme and non-programme schools since 2002 have shown a consistent increase of literacy rates among pupils in the programme schools. The baseline/evaluation study in 2007/08 found that from 153 learners tested across randomly sampled EHL programme schools, there was a 40% increase in literacy over the nine month period.

An evaluation by the District Education Office found the programme schools have been performing exceptionally well in the Ghanaian language subject of the Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE). Consequentially, the Director General of the Ghana Education Service wrote a letter of recommendation to all District Education Directors across Ghana to consider adopting the Olinga Foundation’s literacy programme due to its efficacy in helping children to break through to literacy particularly at the upper primary levels of education.

Interviews in the community suggest that children have shown a great interest in the literacy campaign which has increased their interest in attending school, reading and their desire to learn. The teachers have been using the materials in the school and found them to be very effective in helping children break through to literacy. Parents and community members are realising their youth and children are becoming morally transformed, noting changes of character and behaviour towards them and the wider community. Providing teachers with moral leadership training has led to a positive change of attitudes towards teaching and learning in the classroom, including a decline in the use of corporal punishment in schools, and improved teacher-pupil relationships particularly for girls.

Describe the primary problem(s) that your project is addressing.

The first problem the project is addressing is the low rate of literacy among upper primary students in rural public primary schools across Ghana and amongst children between 10-15 especially girls, living in deprived rural communities. Secondly the project is fighting the dilemma of the cultural identity crisis among rural children and youth who no longer feel a sense of belonging in their rural communities. A third problem being addressed is the moral degradation youth in the society are experiencing due to a breakdown of cultural norms and family values particularly in poverty zones of Ghana. A major component of the programme addresses social problems, declining moral standards, behavioural problems, through child and youth development, and moral leadership training among teachers. The practice of corporal punishment, and negative teacher attitudes and practices in the classroom is also addressed.

Describe the steps that your organization is taking to make your project successful.


read more↑ hide↑ hide

What will it take for your project to be successful over the next three years? Success in Year 1:

The Olinga Foundation will need to host its four day major annual teacher training workshop for 50 to 100 primary school teachers in each district; the project cycle of monitoring, refresher workshops and baseline/evaluation studies will continue each year. The subsequent need to print 2,500 copies of level one books and 2,000 copies of level two books in Twi and Ewe languages will allow for programme expansion to another 40-50 schools in the Eastern Region. We will also continue supporting the work of the District Education Office in implementing the programme and adding value during monitoring visits to the district.

Success in Year 2:

For the second year the Foundation will need to continue to print both level one and level two books in line with its expansion to another 40 to 50 schools in the target districts. The annual teacher training workshop will be organised at the beginning of the academic year. A second residential teacher training workshop will be held for at least 30 Junior High School language teachers who will be engaged in the level two programme which will introduce the level 2 programme in another 30 schools. The programme cycle is expected to continue with the annual and monthly activities as stated above.

Success in Year 3:

The EHL program will continue to expand to a further 40 schools in the Afram plains of the Kwahu North district. This year there will be two major teacher-training workshops with District Teachers Support Team (DTST) members serving as trainers in order to reach primary and junior high school teachers. The project cycle and printing of books will continue. In this year we intend to build our staff capacity by supporting annual staff retreats, partner reflection meetings and professional development training. For this year we need a projected US$ 30-35,000. The Olinga Foundation staff will continue its scoping exercise to identify new districts in both target regions to scale up the programme.

Do you have a business plan or strategic plan? (yes/no)

We are currently working on a strategic plan

What are the three most important actions needed to grow your initiative or organization? STEP 1:

The Olinga Foundation for Human development needs to build up the capacities of a larger network of trainers across the two regions of its interventions. This network should be grown from the trainers and teachers based at the District level and include district teacher support trainers who have demonstrated capacities in facilitating EHL methods and programming. Advanced training in literacy methodology and facilitation skills should be provided to these trainers in order to scale up the programme to new districts in the regions.

What are the three most important actions needed to grow your initiative or organization? STEP 2:

More staff retreats and reflection meetings are needed to engage the trainers with the District Education Officers across the two regions in order to share lessons learned and experience in implementing the programme. More fundraising activities should be focused on building up a core fund to sustain the Foundations literacy work in Ghana. This core fund with proper investment could provide and ensure staff salaries over the long run.

What are the three most important actions needed to grow your initiative or organization? STEP 3:

A presentation should be made to all District Directors of Education in the Western and Eastern regions in order to introduce the programme concept and see which districts take the initiative to invite the EHL program into their areas. MOUs and cost sharing agreements should then be negotiated and scaled up and should aim to take on one or two districts per year within the same regional zones.

Describe the expected results of these actions.

The results of these actions would ensure a stronger resource base of trainers as the programme scales up to other districts across Ghana. The programme is entering a phase where a demand driven approach will be used to enter new districts. This will ensure ownership and leadership by the District Education Offices and support by the District Assembly. The project management capacity of the organization will also be grown through this network of trainers and provision of core funding. More fundraising activities focused on core funding will ensure that the Foundation is able to move to scale without focusing on financing programme activities. Exposure of the programme at the level of District Education Directorship will also help to identify educational leaders who want to bring about change in the quality of education in their districts.

What was the defining moment that led you to this innovation?

When the District Director of Education in Wassa Amenfi, Western Region decided to invite the EHL programme into all the public primary schools in the district in 2001, we realised that there was hope we would reach a scale which would make our efforts worthwhile. At that time the EHL programme had been working with small groups of adult learners in the Western Region for at least three years previous to its introduction in the primary schools. The process of adult literacy and setting up and monitoring of classes was not demonstrating large scale success in attracting adults in the area. The classes were however attracting a number of children and youth. After conducting literacy tests within the schools the low levels of literacy among children became apparent. Less than 20% of children could read at a proficiency level after six years of primary schoolin; these results were confirmed by several literacy tests conducted by the Government of Ghana at the time and remain the average outcome to date. The quality of education in Ghanaian Primary schools was very limited and learning outcomes were crippling young Ghanaians who often dropped out at the upper primary levels. The invitation to work with the teaching force in the Western region and empower them to modify their literacy instruction to help children at the end of their primary schooling confirmed to the Foundation staff and trainers that this was the most urgent and possibly the most important service the Olinga Foundation could render in the area. The Foundation decided not to work at the lower primary levels (p1 to P3) since government policy was in flux regarding the language of instruction and numerous donors were piloting different literacy teaching methodologies at these lower primary levels.

Tell us about the social innovator behind this idea.

The origins of the EHL project date back to 1996, when the Baha’i community of Ghana was asked by the Office of Social and Economic Development (Baha’i World Centre) to start a literacy campaign in Ghana. The programme started up by developing materials and training over 25 adult literacy facilitators to run adult literacy classes in the Western Region of Ghana. After a few years, one of the adult literacy facilitators was using the methodology in his own classroom/ school with children and found it to be very effective in teaching reading. The District Director of Education took an interest in the programme and observed the classes and invited the EHL program into all the public schools in the district.

The Foundation was started by the initial group of trainers who were involved in the Literacy campaign in the Western region – a group of Baha’i educators. The Foundation was named after Enoch Olinga, one of the first Africans to accept the Baha’i Faith and promote education in his community in Uganda. Its mission is to promote universal basic education, to empower young people and ‘to build the capacities needed to carry forward an ever-advancing civilization on the African continent.’

The educational methodology which utilises the generative word as a starting point to help learners break through to literacy was developed by an educationalist from Kenya. The methodology was adapted for Ghanaian rural schools and then expanded to embrace a second level of capability by Dr Leslie Casely-Hayford, Mr Asiamah and Ms Esther Samuel along with many others. The EHL teachers’ manuals and learner’s books have been evaluated by the Curriculum Research Development Division of the Ministry of Education and considered for replication in all Ghanaian primary schools.

How did you first hear about Changemakers?

We were invited by the Outreach Marketing Coordinator to enter the competition following our nomination by Mr. Kingsley Arkorful. This is our first contact with Ashoka’s Changemakers.

This Entry is about (Issues)


read more↑ hide↑ hide

What would prevent your project from being a success?

A major barrier to programme success could be the lack of support and interest of the District Education Office and District Assembly. If there is no genuine collaboration among the stakeholders at district level such as the District Education Service, the District Assemblies and the Ghana Education Service, the project’s success will be greatly affected. For example, if the District Education Office does not take a leading role in programme management and monitoring of programme school, the teachers may not be given adequate support to modify their instructional practices in the classroom. Lack of monitoring and evaluation exercises and consistent encouragement of teachers with onsite support by the GES Officers, Olinga Foundation staff and would affect the project’s success.

At the grassroots level, if there was no commitment, interest and ownership by the head teacher, teachers and pupils, the programme approach will not be sustained at the school/community level. Furthermore, if the pupils have no interest in learning it would also limit the learning outcomes of the programme. The foundation is therefore using questions and answers, stories, drama and other participatory child centred methods to sustain the interest of children in learning.

Lack of funds is the most essential factor that may render our project activities ineffective. Funds are always needed to develop and print more EHL learner books and teacher manuals for the classroom, to organise and train teachers and support ongoing monitoring. Without the sufficient number of books, the quality of teaching and learning in the classroom will be greatly affected, and without teacher training the teachers would not be equipped to use the methodology in the classroom.

Financing source


If yes, provide organization name.

The Olinga Foundation for Human Development

How long has this organization been operating? (i.e. less than a year; 1-5 years; more than 5 years)

More than 9 years

Does your organization have a Board of Directors or an Advisory Board?

Yes we have a Board of Directors made up of six volunteer-members

Does your organization have any non-monetary partnerships with NGOs? (yes/no)


Does your organization have any non-monetary partnerships with businesses? (yes/no)


The Story

read more↑ hide↑ hide

Does your organization have any non-monetary partnerships with government? (yes/no)

Yes, we have partnerships at the district education office level

Please tell us more about how these partnerships are critical to the success of your innovation.

Monitoring teacher training, baseline and evaluation exercise.

How many people will your project serve annually?

100 -1000

What is your organization's business classification?

Non-profit/NGO/citizen sector organization

What is the total number of employees and total number of volunteers at your organization?

Three employees, two volunteers

Have you received funding from any of the following groups? (Please check as many as apply.)

CIDA (Canada) .

288 weeks ago Naveen Shakir said: On July 28, 2009 the judges reviewed the entries for the Changemakers “Champions of Quality Education in Africa” competition ... about this Competition Entry. - read more >
293 weeks ago Myrna Collins said: Having visited Ghana more than a dozen times and seen the work that the Olinga Foundation is doing in facilitating girl's education and ... about this Competition Entry. - read more >
293 weeks ago Shirley Wood said: I have known the Olinga Foundation since its inception almost 10 years ago. I am aware of  their approach, philosophy and ... about this Competition Entry. - read more >
294 weeks ago Prince M Obiri-Mainoo said: Dear Brother Leslie Casely-Hayford,This is a bold initiative and I pray that you would become one of the three selected champions to ... about this Competition Entry. - read more >
294 weeks ago Raphael Ogar Oko said: I want to sincerely thank the organizers for this opportunity and for the few comments that I have read from colleagues even outside ... about this Competition Entry. - read more >
294 weeks ago Fran Holuba updated this Competition Entry.
294 weeks ago Jenna Lawrence updated this Competition Entry.
294 weeks ago The ‘Enlightening the Hearts Literacy Campaign’, under the auspices of the Olinga Foundation for Human Development, Ghana has been chosen as a finalist in Champions of Quality Education in Africa.
294 weeks ago SAMUEL OMODING said: Congratulations Leslie for being selected as one of the Champions of Quality Education in Africa! I wish you success as you continue ... about this Competition Entry. - read more >
299 weeks ago Leslie Casely-Hayford submitted this idea.