3 students poised to bridge ICT gap between urban and rural children

Three young Ghanaians – Golda Afoakwa, Richard Sewor, and Douglas Amoo-Sargon – all students at Arizona State University in the United States, have expressed their desire to bridge the ICT gap between urban and rural children in Ghana.

The three are the Founders of Sua IT, a venture that will improve computer-literacy among rural Ghanaian youth and allow them to catch up with children in the country’s urban communities by travelling long distances from Accra with laptops, textbooks, a projector, a generator, and other gadgets into neighbouring rural areas to enable them assist the less-privileged acquire some knowledge in ICT.

Sua IT won the Resolution Social Venture Challenge in 2018, a competition that rewards compelling leadership and promising social ventures led by youth. These young leaders earned a fellowship that includes seed funding, mentorship, and access to a network of young global change-makers to pursue impactful projects in their communities. A collaboration between the MasterCard Foundation and The Resolution Project, the Resolution Social Venture Challenge provides a pathway to action for socially-responsible young leaders who want to create change that matters in their communities.

Sua IT will promote ICT education in rural communities, benefitting between 1,000 and 1,500 children every year and targetting at most four schools in one year. The team is also looking for partners to acquire enough computers for each student during the training. With such skills, the team believes that it is creating a community of thinkers who can harness the power of technology to become change-makers in society.

The Sua IT team arrives at a remote rural secondary school, ready for a long ICT training session. With the help of teachers and volunteers, set-up is done in one of the school halls – where a generator-powered projector is connected to a computer and the images appear on the wall.

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After the introductory lessons, students form groups and each group is allocated a lap-top with one or two volunteers to take them through the practical session. Once done, they come back to the workshop session to be evaluated and are encouraged to ask questions of the training team. At the end of the training, a group of teachers and students with good computer skills is elected to help the rest of the students continue learning computer skills as they wait for the next training workshop.

“Most children in rural communities of Ghana do not get practical knowledge in ICT. The urgency for which these children must gain such knowledge has been clearly stated in the government’s ICT syllabus as an important and basic tool needed by every child in Ghana. However, we see most children not having such privilege,” said Golda.

She added that: “We want every rural Ghanaian teenager to comfortably use technological products. We also want them to benefit from the Internet by exposing those students to global and societal issues, as well as encouraging them to develop solutions to the challenges they’ve observed in their community.

“Through the scholarship, I am now completing my master’s degree as well as benefitting from experiencing different cultures, exposure, deepened knowledge, and practical training. Being a Scholar and a Social Venture Challenge winner have been great achievements in my life,” said Golda.

According to the three, they feel lucky to be among the Scholars whose education is supported by the MasterCard Foundation Scholars Programme, which awards scholarships on the basis of academic talent, social consciousness, and leadership qualities. It was through Scholars Programme networks that they were first exposed to the Resolution Social Venture Challenge.

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“The MasterCard Foundation made it possible for me to meet my wonderful team of fellow Scholars and to found Sua IT for our community’s social good. This social venture is a chance for us to give back to our communities. I am proud of these accomplishments. Through Sua IT, I believe that we are giving young kids living in a rural community an equal opportunity to prosper and become change agents in their own right,” said Douglas.

“ICT is a course that needs to be taught with hands-on experience to help students gain an in-depth understanding, but it does not happen for most rural schools,” said Richard.

Richard further revealed that: “Research conducted by Maxwell Peprah on ICT education in Ashanti Region, Ghana, in 2016 showed that 96.1 percent of students did not have labs for practical training in ICT. Most students did not have enough books, computers and the Internet. A lack of access to the Internet and electricity was a major factor that prevented ICT expansion to the rural communities. Sixty-five percent of students found it difficult to understand the course because they didn’t have practical knowledge of the technology.

“We will focus on students in levels one to three in the junior high school classes. We currently have about six headmasters who are willing to have their schools benefit from this project,” Richard concluded.

Douglas also expressed that: “The knowledge of how to use information to create solutions is critical to our nation’s development. Through ICT training, we can enable Ghanaian youth to grow and learn. We see our project as an opportunity that other youth in Africa can adopt to improve digital literacy and ICT education”.

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