Delegates from Cote d'Ivoire at the JP Conference in Accra, Ghana

Optimal Impact Foundation Cote D'Ivoire

The Optimal Impact Foundation has been created to support the drive for universal literacy in Cote d’Ivoire, and in particular to improve the levels of literacy in English. As a country where the official language is French, the focus in primary schools has been on achieving literacy in French. English has traditionally only been taught in secondary school and above.


However, as Cote d’Ivoire continues to develop and strengthen its economy, it is attracting increasing levels of investment from overseas. This means that a command of English is becoming more and more necessary for the Ivorian workforce to take advantage of the opportunities offered by this economic development. The earlier a person starts learning a foreign language, the easier it will be for them to achieve fluency in that language. Therefore, the ideal situation will be to begin teaching English in primary schools, alongside French.


An Inspector at the Ministry of Education Cote D'Ivoire, speaking at a Jolly Phonics conference in Ghana in September 2017, said “Teaching English in public primary schools and at kindergarten level has been for long planned by the Ivorian government. Perhaps, the Jolly Phonics Implementation Project might stir up things and make that dream come true”.


International research supports the excellent results in literacy that can be brought about through using the synthetic phonics method. Jolly Phonics is one of the most popular and well-loved synthetic phonics programmes. It is used throughout the United Kingdom and is currently in use in Nigeria and Ghana, where Optimalpath Consulting is helping to build English literacy in West Africa.


The Jolly Phonics way of teaching children to read and write breaks down the English language into 42 sounds, written with combinations of the 26 letters of the alphabet. As children learn the sounds, they begin to decode words for themselves, rather than needing to memorise each individual word, as with traditional methods. Children often begin to read independently with more confidence when taught using the synthetic phonics method. As they begin to read and write with confidence, they also increase their fluency in English.


All primary school teachers in Cote d’Ivoire have had instruction in English during secondary school and at least a further two years during their teacher training. They are ready and able to learn the Jolly Phonics method and pass this knowledge on to their pupils, helping them to become literate in English as well as French. All that is needed to make this a reality is the teacher training in Jolly Phonics.

Chito Udoh of Optimal Impact Foundation delivering a speech at the JP Conference in Accra, Ghana

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