You got it spot on. As an organization also working on early grade literacy in Ghana, we have always believed that in a country with so many languages (and their accompanying varying dialects) spoken emphasis should be on teaching what we have come to label 'the Universal Language' which is phonics. Once the child can identify and sound letters correctly and is able to combine them and pronounce the resultant word that is a great step forward in his/her reading carrier. He/She would be able to gradually read any text that is based on the English alphabet and can later deal with intonations and meanings of these words.
I like the idea of providing support in the form of eCoaching as well as face to face interactions to the family and teachers to help pupils learn this 'Universal Language'. From experience gathered from the work that we are doing as an organization this will be very crucial in assisting especially the teacher facilitate pupils' transition from one learning level to the other, and for that matter from the L1 to the L2. This is a skill that many teachers lack.
The use of the phone is a great idea considering the current level of mobile phone penetration in the country.
I look forward to the birth of this project. There is a lot it has to offer and a lot more other players in the early grade literacy arena can learn from.
Michael and Jeff I have applauded both of your contributions because you are all correct in your thinking.
I can not agree with Jeff more that while mobile technology may in fact be a part of the solution, there still has to be a good curriculum to deal with large class sizes. I also share your optimism, Micheal, that there are certainly sound ways of making this happen.
Our own work in Ghana as an organization (OLE Ghana) through our Ghana Reads program has shown that the use of the coaching concept, which provides a hands on holding hands support for the teachers, can be of immense benefit in supporting teachers gain he skills needed to teach the foundations of learning a language as well as handling large classes..
I see this Phonics by Phone project doing very well if a strong coaching component is introduced as a part of it.
I applaud this project. It will enhance reading and writing skills of children in low-income communities.