Upgrading the skills of girl-child through ICT – the achievement of SDGs 4&5


Education is one of the foremost concerns for governments striving to foster development, prioritizing the security and well-being of their youth. However, the deficiency in Information and Communication Technology (ICT) literacy among young girls and women within society has caused them to lag.

Consequently, their ability to compete on the international stage has been hampered, as the global landscape becomes increasingly technical. Persistently, girls encounter entrenched obstacles, including cyberbullying, threats, and restricted access due to the digital divide.

With digital inclusion evolving into an integral aspect of daily existence, essential for success in both educational settings and the professional sphere, there’s the need for a concerted effort to encourage young girls to embrace and cultivate ICT skills as it has also become pivotal for accessing services both domestically and globally.

The rapid ICT revolution is reshaping the world at an astonishing pace, and it won’t be long before proficiency in digital systems becomes indispensable for survival. The encroachment of robotics and Artificial Intelligence into educational institutions, businesses, and public spaces is becoming increasingly pronounced.

While these developments have alleviated certain burdens, they have also accentuated economic disparities. Hence, it is incumbent upon everyone to acquire the necessary knowledge before being overshadowed by these advancements.

What do the SDGs 4 and 5 say?

The Sustainable Development Goal (SDG)) four aims to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all. This goal supports the reduction of disparities and inequities in education, both in terms of access and quality.

SDG five, on the other hand, aims to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls. Gender equality is a human right. It is also a precondition for realizing all goals in the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda.

While both girls and boys generally encounter similar challenges during early childhood, discrepancies between genders become more evident as they mature. Adolescent girls, constrained by societal gender norms, often experience an uneven share of household responsibilities, societal pressures to enter marriage, heightened risks of early pregnancy, and exposure to sexual and gender-based violence.

On a global scale, a staggering 650 million girls and women presently endure the consequences of early marriage, while over 200 million have endured the pain of female genital mutilation. The advent of the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated preexisting gender disparities, amplifying the impact on the most vulnerable children, as stated in a UN report.

Hence, it is crucial to involve girls and young women in the creation, execution, supervision, and assessment of digital educational tools. Additionally, providing backing for innovations conceptualized by girls plays a vital role in fostering effective and lasting measures that bridge the gender gap in digital access.

In Ghana, efforts to bolster girls’ education in ICT are underway through collaborative initiatives involving the Ministry of Communication and Digitization, alongside key partners such as the Ghana Investment Fund for Electronic Communications (GIFEC), National Communications Authority, Kofi Annan ICT Centre of Excellence, and MTN-Ghana, American Towers Company (ATC), Ministry of Education, GIZ, and other relevant stakeholders.

These entities collectively organized a national event called “Girls-in-ICT, Digital for Life” aimed at elevating the competence and capabilities of young girls while advancing their academic journey. Spearheaded in 2012 by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), the Girls-In-ICT programme was to create a global environment that empowers and encourages girls and young women to consider studies and careers in the growing field of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs).

It was also to train some 1000 girls in each of the country’s 16 regions in ICT. The beneficiaries are being taken through coding, cyber security, and website development.

The programme commenced by providing training to teachers in various domains including ICT basics, scratch programming (coding), cyber security, gaming, website development, and project presentation. These educators were entrusted with the responsibility of guiding and motivating the girls to pursue careers in the field of ICT as they progress in their lives.

From the Northern Region, participants were chosen from a total of sixteen Metropolitan, Municipal, and District Assemblies (MMDAs), namely Mion, Karaga, Tolon, Kumbungu, Savelugu, Tamale, Nanton, Sagnarigu, Kpandai, Gushegu, Tatali, Nanumba South, Nanumba North, Yendi, Saboba, and Zabzugu.

They underwent mentorship sessions facilitated by accomplished women who, despite societal gender constraints, succeeded in realizing their aspirations through ICT and supportive measures. These mentors shared their journeys and triumphs to inspire and guide the young girls, urging them to concentrate on their education and strive toward their objectives. The aim was to motivate and provide direction for the participants as they embark on their future careers and endeavours in the realm of ICT.

To guarantee the programme’s efficacy, Minister of Communications and Digitalization, Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, joined forces with other relevant stakeholders for a tour of the region. This tour aimed to evaluate the progress of the training provided to the selected girls and to engage in discussions with them. The objective was to gauge the extent to which the programme had aided them in overcoming challenges hindering their set objectives, ensuring optimal utilization of resources, and fostering the well-being of upcoming leaders.

The Girls in ICT programme constitutes a key component of the International Telecommunications Union’s (ITU) endeavour to motivate and equip girls and young women to consider educational pursuits and careers in the expanding realm of ICT.

Consequently, Girls-in-ICT Day has evolved into a significant annual initiative within the Ministry of Communications’ schedule. This celebration occurs on a regional basis, empowering a specific group of girls. To facilitate the effective implementation of this programme, Ghana Code Club offers assistance and training, assisting the Ministry in establishing ICT Clubs for students ranging from basic to Junior High levels. These clubs aim to nurture creativity and bolster confidence in technology among students.

In 2023, the programme took place in Tamale within the Northern Region. During this event, a Junior High two (2) pupil from St. Paul R/C in Tamale Metropolitan, Mrs Christiana Awenli Awea, emerged as the victor with a perfect score of 100 per cent.

Amanda Daal from Kpandai Girls model JHS won the second position with 99 per cent while Husinatu Nasara Mohammed took the third position and were all presented with plaques, certificates, a laptop, with an ICT lab for their schools as well GH¢3,000, GH¢2,500 and GH¢2,000 respectively .

Also, they would serve as ICT ambassadors for the Northern Region as well benefit from further training in Accra.

Speaking at the climax of the event in Tamale, the sector Minister, Mrs Owusu-Ekuful, said, the programme was aimed at ensuring more than 3.5 million Ghanaians without mobile connectivity in Ghana especially the rural areas have access to technology.

She said the Ministry was developing community ICT centres and cell sites across the country, and that the establishment of 2,000 sites nationwide were steadily progressing.

“GIFEC is implementing the Rural Telephony and Digital Inclusion Project, which forecast the construction of more than 2,000 sites for improved internet connectivity,” she said. According to her, more than 700 sites had already been built with many local communities connected to the internet since 2020, saying all the sites would be completed by the close of 2023.

She called on teachers to guide and encourage students and pupils to use the internet to aid their studies and advised the beneficiaries to utilize the knowledge acquired productively.

Hajia Katumi Natogmah Attah, the Director of Education for the Northern Region, emphasized that a considerable number of young girls had encountered hurdles in the field of ICT, impeding their career progress. She noted that the introduction of this programme has proven instrumental in aiding numerous young girls, and it has also served as an inspiration for others to consider studying ICT as a means to shape their future endeavours.

>>>the writer can be reached via [email protected], and or 0241076960

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