· The ICT project at the Choggu Demonstration School
No matter how one perceived it, it would be impossible for the nation to progress meaningfully without supporting the nation’s youth to be ICT savvy. It is in order then that a key aspect of the new National Pre-Tertiary Education Curriculum Framework identifies the use of Information Communication Technologies (ICTs) as a major tool in the approach to teaching within learner-centred classrooms.
Quality education is shaping the future of nations all over the world, with each nation defining its peculiar needs and focus. In refusing to update themselves for the digital age, educators across board unconsciously invite their own self-termination. At the end of it all, the digitally inclined youth are the losers into the future, and that must not continue. For that reason, I was quite pleased to have been invited to give a solidarity message in the dedication of the Yamoransa Model-Lab 4 ICT center, at the Choggu Demonstration School, Tamale, May 27, 2019.
Digital Age Learning Culture
The new Framework expects a dynamic culture of professional practice for the following purposes:
- Ensure instructional innovation focused on continuous improvement of digital age learning,
- Model and promote the frequent and effective use of technology for learning,
- Provide learning-centred environments equipped with technology and learning resources to meet the individual and diverse needs of all learners,
- Ensure effective practice in the study of technology and its infusion across the curriculum, and
- Promote and participate in local, national and global learning communities that stimulate innovation, creativity and digital age collaboration.
The Continual Professional Development (CPD) of teachers must elevate the standards of teachers across the nation from the analogue mindset to the digital one; and lead them to recognize that ICTs are not ends in themselves but the means to an end. In other words, knowing the general uses of computers is one thing, but using ICT specifically to make the methods of the teachers easier is the goal of any efficient and effective system.
The key players
Congratulations go to the following key players for the ICT initiative: H.E. Hajia Samira Bawumia, the 2nd Lady of the Republic; Alhaji Mohammed Haroon, Northern Region Education Director; Mariam Iddrissu, MCE, Sagnarigu Municipal Assembly; Madam Samata Mahama, Municipal Education Director; and Hon. Salifu Saeed, Northern Regional Minister.
The project was funded by the Friends of Yamoransa Foundation, represented by Deborah Rose; the Helping Africa Foundation, represented by Japhet Aryiku; and project coordinated by Kafui Prebbie and F.J. Cava of Techaide. The lab is powered by the Asanka System which compiles and delivers content in an easy to access format hosted on low cost, low powered durable device. The two ICT laboratories, each with 28 workstations – making a total of 56 computers and monitors – can be accessed by about 800 children in the district.
According to Techaide, the content in video, audio, and texts formats can be accessed with any device with wireless capabilities (phones, tablets, laptops, desktops, etc). A single Asanka device can support about 20 wireless devices and provides an affordable way to deliver content. It’s faster and easier to get information where there’s no internet, and easier to distribute lots of content to many people at the same time even without internet.
The solidarity message
I noted in my solidarity message that even with ICT, the ability to read and understand information is the prerequisite to computer literacy. The reading habit therefore needed to be nurtured right from primary education through JSS. The second concern was the issue of heat and dust – the two main enemies of any computer installations. It was most appropriate then that the environment was greened with trees and shrubs to tame the dust in the area, and also cool the environment in a natural way.
In terms of ICT applications, teachers must take it upon themselves to function effectively as teams in each of the subject areas to improve BECE scores. Across Ghana, each teacher, administrator or head needs to visualize a situation where every teacher or a new teacher has the ability to prepare Schemes of Work / Weekly Forecasts, and Lesson Notes on the computer to arrest the drudgery of handwritten notes in bulky note books of the archaic analogue era.
With the introduction of the appropriate software packages, any information under the sun can be accessed making it easier for learner-centred teaching across every discipline. The children are ready through their natural curiosity and enthusiasm for technology. Whether the adults in the system would rise to the occasion is the chief concern.
Maximising a school’s performance may not always be easy, but successful teaching and learning today with the advent of digital technology makes instruction so much easier.