The realisation of a strong and vibrant economy is dependent on the country’s ability to build solid systems and institutions on the back of the ever-increasing digital transformation being witnessed globally, Vice President Dr. Mahamadu Bawumia has said.
He pointed out that in this ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’ countries that do not put in place enablers for digitalisation are likely to remain uncompetitive; and to succeed in this direction the youth must be provided with the ‘instruments and tools of innovation’.
Against this background, Dr. Bawumia explained that the motivation of government in the pursuit of digital reforms as part of its economic strategy is because “without it, the nation will be stuck in a cycle of rhetoric and underdevelopment”.
Addressing students and other stakeholders at the University of Ghana Business School at a laptop award ceremony and launching of the university’s ‘One Student, One Laptop’ initiative, he said the digital revolution is youth-driven. “As such, any initiative that equips the youth to be functional in this revolution and push our nation forward in technology and innovation is commendable,” he stated.
The school’s vision and pursuit of digitalisation, he observed, will help bridge the digital divide among students as well as complement the president’s vision that Ghana should transition from the ‘dependency mentality’ to a ‘can do’ attitude.
He said government is determined to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 4, which entails ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education and promoting lifelong learning opportunities for all. He reiterated that technology is particularly essential in education, since teaching and learning are no longer limited to books and classrooms as the Internet has offered limitless opportunities.
Again, he acknowledged that the outbreak of COVID-19 has deepened the urgent need to innovate and leverage all the advantages which technology offers.
“Even before COVID-19, the modes of teaching and learning in the advanced economies were already trending toward ICT-based systems which increasingly replaced in-person interactions with virtual platforms. The outbreak of COVID-19 in 2019 compelled many Ghanaian educational institutions across the private-public spectrum to rapidly build capacity for virtual teaching and learning,” he said.
He therefore commended the University of Ghana for making efforts to modernise its teaching and learning environment. “Indeed, this is essential for keeping pace with global trends and remaining relevant and competitive in the academic arena,” he added.
While observing that the University of Ghana’s mission to become a world-class research-intensive university appears to be on course, he noted that: “There is a need to enhance the use of technology to further improve the teaching and learning experience for both lecturers and students in the era of COVID-19, which is now accepted as our new normal for the foreseeable future.”
The Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ghana, Prof. Nana Ama Appiah Amfo, observed that with the outbreak of COVID-19 the virtual model of teaching and learning has been mainstreamed.
However, she said this technology-driven approach requires students, staff and faculty to have access to personal laptops or hand-held smart devices.
It is because of this that she said the One Student, One Laptop initiative “is very timely and targetted at the most vulnerable within the community, who could potentially be disadvantaged due to their inability to acquire such devices to facilitate their studies”.
She, therefore, commended the staff of the university who worked tirelessly on making it possible to acquire the laptops for some 40 selected students.