It is imperative that every Ghanaian today is equipped for the country’s drive towards a functioning digital economy. No one is to be left behind.
The big talk about all-inclusiveness should also include ensuring that at least every one of us can stay relevant in the digital economy. As noted once by the former UN Secretary General, Ban Kin Moon, if a section of the population sees themselves alienated to the advancement in technology, it breeds hostility. The strategies to help achieve this have been stated clearly in the ICTAAD policy document as a guide for us. My fear however is that, the way things are going does not indicate that leadership is making any reference to that document in planning our digital growth.
The ICT4AD Vision for Ghana
‘To improve the quality of life of the people of Ghana by significantly enriching their social, economic and cultural well –being through the rapid development and modernization of the economy and society using information and communication technologies as the main engine for accelerated and sustainable economic and social development’
Our aim is to situate this agenda in such a way as stated in the ICT4AD policy document to enable us to address challenges which may include; limited human resource capacity to man modern day ICT infrastructure needed for the country’s growth.
With a projected population size of about 38 million by the year 2028, and over 40% high illiteracy rate, a lot needs to be done to avert such occurrence in the years ahead.
The introduction of free SHS will definitely improve the senior secondary enrollments, but primary school dropouts must be given some attention too. If pupils are dropping out earlier before they even qualify to enjoy free SHS then the objective will not be achieved.
Notable also in the policy document is that, low level of computer literacy will have significant effect on the overall ICT sector development in the country.
Transforming Our Education
The Policy Statement : As part of the mission is to transform the educational system to provide the requisite education, and training services and environment capable of producing the right types of skills and human resources required for developing and driving Ghana’s information and knowledge –based economy and society , the Government is committed to a comprehensive programme of rapid deployment , utilization and exploitation of ICT’s within the educational system from primary school upwards.
Part of the objectives was to modernize the educational system using ICT. This is to ensure quality educational at all levels and also to expand access through ICT. Today there are significant e-learning tools that can be deployed to quickly achieve such an objective set.
It was also identified as a matter of urgency to reorient the entire country’s teaching and learning methodology towards science and technology. The agenda to ensure that all citizens are at least functionally computer literate and productive is very laudable and must be given the needed attention.
Some Key outlined strategies to achieve the objectives are as follows:
The introduction of computers as we have seen with successive governments at all levels of education is good very step. This however has not been without the usual exploitation mechanism employed by officers in-charge. The computers are not getting to the right places and even they do, the right quantities are not given to the institutions.
As government changes some of these initiatives are also stalled and our educational system suffers. I must state that, this should be a continuous process, so that every school going Ghanaian child can benefit.
The promotion of ICT awareness and computer literacy can also be done at the entire public level .This strategy cannot be fulfilled entirely by the government. Significant contribution can be made by initiatives from private individuals and companies as part of their social corporate responsibilities or some social enterprise engagements.
My own SmartkliQ initiative has engaged several students and parents to help them better understand the growing digital space all around us. We have also developed valuable information products such as books and board games that families can buy to enhance their knowledge within the digital space.
The need to promote electronic distance education has also been identified as very important in rapidly transforming our country into a knowledge based one. But even at the tertiary level, we have failed to implement this for efficiency.
E-learning tools are all over the place, but we are failing as a country to fully utilize them for our learning and teaching methods. Even at the tertiary levels where one would expect these tools to be widely deployed, you have people having to travel long journeys after work for over 2 hours of face-to-face lectures before heading home. The entire curriculum material can be made available online, so students at all levels with basic internet connection on any device can access them and study.
The likes of IMPC and NIIT have significantly contributed to the IT skills development of many people away from the mainstream education. These institutions should not been seen as an alternative educational center where people who fail to gain admission into the university go to acquire skills. Rather, the Ministry of Education should review their standing within the educational structure to promote them as certified professional training bodies.
There is a lot we can do to achieve the Ghana we all want; all stakeholders are encouraged to regularly make reference to these fine documented policies when implementing strategies for our digital economic growth.