It is imperative that every Ghanaian today is equipped for the country’s drive toward 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 Ki-Moon, if a section of the population sees themselves as alienated from 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 the way things are going does not indicate leadership is making any reference to that document in planning our digital growth.
The ICT4AD Vision for Ghana
‘To improve the quality of life for the people of Ghana by significantly enriching their social, economic and cultural well-being through rapid development and modernisation 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 as stated in the ICT4AD policy document to enable us address challenges, which may include limited human resource capacity to man the modern-day ICT infrastructure needed for the country’s growth.
With a projected population size of about 38 million by the year 2028 and an over-40% illiteracy rate, a lot needs to be done to avert such occurrence in the years ahead.
The introduction of Free SHS will definitely improve senior secondary enrollments, but primary school drop-outs 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.
Also notable in the policy document is that a low level of computer literacy will have significant effects on overall ICT sector development in the country.
Transforming Our Education
The Policy Statement says: “As part of the mission is to transform the education system to provide the requisite education, 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, government is committed to a comprehensive programme of rapid deployment, utilisation and exploitation of ICT within the education system from primary school upward.”
Part of the objectives was to modernise the education system by using ICT. This is to ensure quality education at all levels, and also to expand access through ICT. Today, there are significant e-learning tools which can be deployed to quickly achieve such an objective set.
It was also identified that, as a matter of urgency, it is necessary to re-orient the entire country’s teaching and learning methodology toward 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 a very good step. This, however, has not been without the usual exploitative mechanisms employed by officers in-charge. The computers are not getting to the right places – and even when they do, the right quantities are not given to the institutions.
As government changes, some of these initiatives are also stalled and our education 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 government. Significant contributions 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 many students and parents to help them better understand the growing digital world we now live in. 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 effectively.
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 level 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 IPMC and NIIT have significantly contributed to the IT skills development of many people away from mainstream education. These institutions should not be seen as an alternative education centre – where people who fail to gain admission into 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.
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