The British Council, in partnership with Wikimedia Foundation and the Ghana Tertiary Education Commission (GTEC), has launched its Skill4Success project to improve digital literacy and Media and Information Literacy (MIL) and also factual writing skills among students in Ghana, and later on extend it to other selected African countries.
According to Chikodi Onyemerela, acting Country Director-British Council Ghana and Cameroon, the project will focus on the development of media and information literacy – helping students and teachers to better access and interrogate information online for their academic and personal lives.
He added that advanced digital literacy and factual writing skills are also crucial skills in contemporary higher education settings and a job-readiness skill for young people. He said the programme will contribute toward higher academic performance and greater employability for young people in Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa.
“This will be achieved by improving digital literacy and factual writing skills in young learners in these countries, enabling them to better understand how to use the Internet as a learning and research resource, actively engage in the online space in professional contexts, improve the quality of their written communication both academically and professionally, and develop their confidence in their use of digital tools,” he added.
In an address, Senior Consultant English and Education at the British Council, Caroline Grant, elaborated that the project – which targets Junior High School students – will see facilitators and lecturers from colleges of education and universities trained to deliver the material to student teachers.
“A one-day structured feedback session will be conducted 10 weeks after training to discuss ways in which the material has been embedded and allow for feedback and suggested amendments or developments to the material. Student teachers will then receive training as part of their course and implement it during teaching practice in schools, in the classroom, to support improved learning outcomes in digital literacy and factual writing,” she said.
She emphasised that access to the Internet and technology, and an understanding of how to navigate it, has become necessary since it is becoming increasingly evident that young people are leaving school without confidence in the digital space – putting them at an immediate disadvantage in the national and global economy.
She cited a recent study conducted by the IFC that indicated over 230 million jobs in sub-Saharan Africa will require digital skills by 2050; and that nearly 65 percent of current employers are looking out for at least basic digital skills. She said, however, according to the World Bank in sub-Saharan Africa only 50 percent of countries have basic computer skills as part of their curriculum.
“Employers surveyed also reported that the top-ten skills required in future employees include: critical and analytical thinking, communication, problem solving, leadership, collaboration, computer literacy, application of technology, creativity, decision-making and reasoning, and teamwork; the more reason this initiative is necessary,” she said.
Deputy Director-General of the Ghana Tertiary Education Commission (GTEC), Ahmed Abdulai Jinapor, lauded the initiative – indicating that the project is timely and necessary, especially at a time when there’s need for a paradigm shift in the educational architecture; whereby concentration will be on skills acquisition rather than knowledge acquisition.
He however pledged GTEC’s determination to support the project toward a successful execution.