As Founder and Chairman of GEMS The Education Partners, Sunny Varkey has committed to ensuring that impoverished children gain the skills they need to reach their full potential through the Varkey Foundation.
The Varkey Foundation has designed programs to improve the learning outcomes of marginalized girls in Ghana through the use of innovative distance learning technology.
Much of the emphasis for education goals in Ghana (and in other Sub-Saharan African countries) has been on getting more pupils into schools. The Department for International development (DFID) wanted to ensure that once the pupils were in school, they received a quality education, as well.
With teacher absenteeism as high as 35% in some of Ghana’s most deprived districts (where many households live on less than $2 USD a day), students are not gaining essential skills to contribute to their communities, and the nation as a whole. The result is a vicious cycle where poverty, illiteracy and innumeracy perpetuate.
In 2014, the Varkey Foundation received funding from the Department for International Development (DFID)’s Girls' Education Challenge (GEC) to design and implement Sub-Saharan Africa’s first, interactive distance-learning project to improve the learning outcomes and life chances of marginalized girls in Ghana.
Led by Dr. Gordon Carver, Making Ghanaian Girls Great! (MGCubed) will impact more than 4,000 marginalized girls (aged 9-14 years) in 72 schools, within two regions in Ghana (Volta and Greater Accra) and offer them an enhanced quality of education to improve their lives and transform their future. MGCubed aims to address the challenges of teacher quality, teacher absenteeism, and poor student learning by equipping two classrooms in every school with solar-powered computers and projectors through which real-time two-way interactive distance lessons can occur.
Over a two-year period, one hour of basic Math and one hour of basic English Language curriculum will be taught during the school day, broadcast live to multiple classrooms by six master teachers from the two teaching studios in Accra. A total of 8,000 girls and boys will be taught basic numeracy and literacy over the project. In addition to the in-school classes, the project will provide educational programs for two hours per day an after-school girls' club called Wonder Women to up to 50 marginalized girls, per school. This will also include out-of-school girls. Wonder Women engages the girls in topics such as early pregnancy, early marriage, girls' rights, and financial literacy, as well as introducing them to different adult female role models. The goal is to empower them, raise their self-esteem, enable them to catch up on lost learning and to stay in school.
Community engagement is a critical part of MGCubed’s delivery strategy. In order to achieve self-governing local committees, MGCubed works with volunteers within remote, deprived communities, and is running a series of engagement activities during the mobilization phase to attract and retain both in- and out-of-school girls.
The Varkey Foundation is a not-for-profit organization established to improve the standards of education for underprivileged children through projects encouraging enrolment in schools, worldwide teacher training programs and advocacy campaigns.