Submitted by Agbenyo John Stephen on Friday, 3rd December, 2010 — News item
Welcoming participants, the Director of Savana Signatures, Mr. Stephen Agbenyo briefed the participants about the fact that the Ghana ICTAD policy is hinged on 14 key tenets which represent the vision for Ghana’s informational transformation. He also gave an in-depth history about Savana Signatures stating among other things that the vision of SavSign is to mainstream ICT into education, research into key ICT education related issues, engage in knowledge sharing through the organization of workshops and running of ICT clubs for schools. He also acknowledged the active partnership between Savsign and Radboud University in the Netherlands to build the capacity of teachers and students.
Briefing the participants on the activities of GINKS of which Savsign is an active partner, he elaborated the fact that GINKS seeks to facilitate capacity building for development, knowledge sharing and focuses mainly on health, gender and agriculture. The delivery was spiced with a video documentary on the Global Teenager Project, a project that interconnects schools across the globe for knowledge sharing.
The Chairperson for the seminar, Mr. Abdul-Razak Ewuntomah from the Regional Education Office emphasised that just as the private sector is seen as the engine of national growth, ICT is the foundation for effective national development in this 21st century. He therefore, encouraged participants to take issues that will be discussed at the seminar seriously and go back to put them into practice and not rest since any unused knowledge, decays.
Making the second presentation, Mr. Ken Kubuga, CEO of BoldSteps Foundation and a lecturer at the Tamale Polytechnic dilated extensively on the Ghana ICT for Accelerated Development (ICT4AD) Policy with a focus on Education. Giving a brief background to the policy document, he emphasised that its purpose was to modernise agriculture and develop education for accelerated national development. He examined the 14 pillars which serve as the basis for ICT4D in Ghana, the ultimate purpose of which is to enhance effective governance, health care, improve agriculture, modernize the economy, enhance education and improve national security for accelerated national development.
Focusing on the second pillar which focuses on promoting ICT in education, he gave statistical data that revealed that in 2003 Ghana had a 60% literacy rate which rose to 80.6% in 2008 even though there was a high drop-out rate of 50% in BECE within the same period. This second pillar, he said, seeks to facilitate education through ICT and promote e-learning, modernize the educational system and achieve universal basic education and basic computer literacy. The policy objectives he stated include promoting access to tertiary education and promoting technical vocational education. In trying to achieve these policy objectives, 21 strategies were outlined some of which aim to transform Ghana into an information and knowledge-driven ICT literate nation, Introduce computers into all primary, secondary, vocational and technical schools and ensure that all universities and colleges take steps to progressively offer their programmes and courses online to broaden access to higher education to a large section of the population and to maximize the quality and efficiency of learning processes, systems and activities.
Mr. Kubuga lamented however, that while the FCUBE is on course, the chunk of the computers are limited to SHS and tertiary institutions. Also, Technical institution and polytechnics have failed to respond and to strategically position their courses to achieve the goals in the ICT4AD policy document due to financial and human resource constraints.
Remarking on the delivery, the chairperson lamented the paradoxical situation where Ghana supplied India with rice in the 1960’s and how we are currently a net importer of rice from other countries to feed ourselves. This he said is due to our failure to fully embrace ICT into our national life as Ghanaians and our inability to modernize our agriculture. A participant regretted that even though Ghana has a well framed policy, there is no road map or time frame for achieving these well elaborated strategies and objectives. Another participant suggested that Government should show more commitment in incorporating ICT into education by absorbing electricity bills of ICT laboratories and by allowing it to be consolidated like the street light bills.
Mr. Agbenyo, presenting a priority scale of GES in mainstreaming ICTs, showed that at the top is the Ministry of Education and at the bottom is pre-schools; an indication of who actually matters to the Ghana Education Service. He then went further to divulge that Savsign was looking for funding support to introducing some kind of a “one Laptop top per a teacher” since teachers are the facilitating agents of every learning including ICT education.
Delivering the second presentation on the topic “Application of ICT tools in school”, Mr. Raphael McClure Adomey, an ICT instructor at the St. Charles Minor Seminary Senior High School admonished participants to always utilise any knowledge they acquire since knowledge that stays unused decays. This, he stated, is the only surest way we can utilize ICTs to transform and change the traditional approach to data management. He went further to elaborate on how the use of ICT tools can be of immense use for headmasters and school administrators.
He mentioned that ICT tools will enable them keep track of students’ academic data using excel which can even present a graph for easy evaluation of student’s records. Supervision and admission of students as well as monitoring of teacher’s attendance were also seen as the benefits of embracing ICT and mainstreaming it into school administration. Mr. Adomey also expounded on the benefits of ICTs to Teachers and school examination and academic board in keeping students’ records as well as registration of their students.
He lamented that in spite of the heavy importance of ICT, the GES still encourages manual record keeping at almost every level of their operations. He also cited inadequate infrastructure such as the unavailability of both computers and electricity and the lack of capacity building and inadequate financing of ICT related programmes. Mr. Adomey ended his submission by admonishing participants to lead the fight in bringing about total ICT transformation and ensure that it permeates into the educational sector.
Participants reacting to the presentations said among other things that there was the need for us as Ghanaians to change our lukewarm attitude when it comes to ICT related matters and face the realities of the 21st century. Other participants also urged Savana Signatures to continue to provide practical training to teachers in the effective utilization of PowerPoint, Word and most importantly Excel to enable them prepare students’ reports and save time. Participants further suggested that there should be in place a follow up service scheme to ensure that teachers who are given some training go to share the knowledge with their colleagues and also impart them to the students.
The representative from ISODEC, Mr Nsiah A. Philip urged schools to form strong partnerships with their PTA’s and other organizations to help provide resources which will widen and strengthen the knowledge base in ICT. Mr. Abdul-Rashid of Savsign bemoaned the situation where some stake holders set back the clock of progress and cited an instance where Savsign’s efforts at providing a free Teachers’ ICT resource center for teachers were stifled due the inability of the District Assembly to provide a place to house the training centre. He also lamented situations where teachers who are invited to attend seminars of this nature fail to turn up because there is no T&T for them.
In his closing remarks, the Chairperson expressed gratitude to GINKS and Savana Signatures for organizing the seminar to plunge teachers into not just the policy document on ICT4D but to also let teachers identify their roles in mainstreaming ICT into education in Ghana. While thanking the teachers and head teachers for availing themselves for the seminar, he also admonished teachers to eschew laziness and build their capacities by enrolling in computer courses during holidays in other to catch up with the rest of the world.