Education
 Ghana
Project #13333

Hands on computer classes for 1,800 Ghana children

by EIFL
Vetted
Exam preparation - Kwaaso Junior High School.
Exam preparation - Kwaaso Junior High School.

Thanks to your support for the EIFL Hands on computer classes for 1,800 Ghana children project, many more children believe they will pass the crucial countrywide exams that start on 13th June, and which determine whether the children will progress to secondary school.

In May this year, we visited two schools that are taking part in the project, in which mobile library vans travel to 25 rural schools in four regions of Ghana bringing solar-charged laptops and Wi-Fi internet to give children hands-on computer classes. Since the project began in November 2015, 3,000 children have learnt essential practical skills - using the keyboard, Excel, Word, email and accessing the internet.

To reach the two schools, which serve farming families in Ashanti Region, the library van must travel for up to two hours over bumpy and rutted roads. The schools we visited have electricity, but it is not reliable, so during the library’s computer classes teachers are grateful to use library’s solar panels.

In each class, three to four children share a laptop. Teachers, supported by librarians, manage the classes carefully to ensure everyone has a turn to use the keyboard and mouse. The children we spoke to all believed they had a better chance of succeeding in their exams because of the classes. The teachers agreed:

“Having the computers is a huge help! The project has increased the confidence and class participation of students, especially one quiet and introvert girl who never spoke in class and who now participates in discussions and practicals during ICT lessons,” said Mr Peter Afrifa Bonsu, technology teacher at Abountem Junior High School.

Word about the project has spread to nearby communities: “Every week, parents move their children from other schools which are not benefitting from the project to my school. They want their children to have this opportunity to learn about technology and pass their exams,” said Mr Francis Pepra Boansi, headmaster of Kwaaso Presbyterian Junior High School.

'The computers are a huge help,' says Peter Bonsu.
The library van outside Kwaaso Junior High School.
The library van outside Kwaaso Junior High School.
Computer class - three children per laptop!
Computer class - three children per laptop!

“The project has increased attendance at schools – especially on the days of the mobile library visits – and the children participate fully because they can touch a computer,” said Mr Ofosu Frimpong, assistant mobile librarian, Ashanti Region, Ghana.

When we last reported progress the project had just started. The mobile libraries, equipped with solar-powered laptops and modem internet connections, had travelled to only five schools to give children the practical experience they so desperately need to pass their computer exams.

Now, just three months later, mobile libraries are regularly visiting 25 schools in four regions (Ashanti, Western, Upper East and Volta). The four mobile libraries have conducted a total of 95 classes, reaching over 3,000 children. That’s almost double the 1,800 children the libraries expected to reach! 

At all the schools teachers report increased attendance by pupils keen to use the computers: “The children are so eager to learn – their mind-set has changed with the exposure to computers. It has broadened their horizons – and we know they will be able to transfer their new skills to different environments,” said Ernestina Kantiono, senior library assistant, who travels to schools in the Western Regional Library van.

Teachers are working hard to make the most of the hands-on computer classes: “The teachers have started grading the pupils into groups according to their ability before delivering the lessons. This ensures efficient teaching and learning,” said Mr Frimpong.

The laptop computers have all been pre-loaded with educational content and e-books so that in addition to learning practical computer and internet skills, the children can use the laptops to study their school subjects and to practise reading. By popular demand, Volta Regional Library - the first mobile library in Ghana to offer mobile computer classes - organized reading sessions during the Christmas holidays, and the three other regional libraries plan to follow suit in future school holidays.

See the project in action on our You Tube video: http://bit.ly/20gnSNV

The internet opens up new worlds of learning.
The internet opens up new worlds of learning.
School attendance is up because of the computers.
School attendance is up because of the computers.
Beatrice, who plans to become a doctor.
Beatrice, who plans to become a doctor.

Mobile libraries are on the move in three regions of Ghana, taking solar-powered laptop computers pre-loaded with digital books and educational resources, and modem internet connections, to under-resourced schools to give struggling students hands-on computer classes.

For many of the children this was their first experience of computers.

“This was my first time using a computer - and it was a bit difficult,” said Beatrice, a student at Archbishop Amissah Junior High School in Western Region. Beatrice is determined to excel in her computer classes because she wants to be a doctor when she grows up: “Computers will help me with research online, for example, about chemicals,” she said.

Another first-time learner is Erica, who is confident that computers will help her in her chosen career: journalism. “As a journalist I will be able to get a lot of information through the internet,” she told librarians and teachers.

Celebrations marked the launch of the Hands on computer classes for 1,800 Ghana children project in Ghana’s Western, Upper East and Ashanti regions in November. The launch events were attended by children, teachers and headmasters from the 15 schools that will benefit from the project; regional librarians and Ghana Education Service officials.

Addressing delegates in Western Region, Benedicta Aseidu, a manager in the Ghana Education Service, called on children to make full use of the learning opportunity presented by the new public library service: “I expect you to shine, to stand tall among your peers, and let it reflect in your Basic Education Certificate Examination,” she said.

Ms Aseidu especially appreciated the educational resources pre-loaded to the laptops. “The material covers almost all school subjects, and there are exam questions for the children to practice,” she said.

Ghana Library Authority Executive Director Ofosu Tenkorang commended Western Regional librarians for their commitment and thanked everyone who has contributed to the new service.

The schools close for the Christmas holidays on 17 December, and - thanks to your support - Beatrice, Erica and their classmates will go home happy knowing that from next term they will have regular hands-on computer classes, brought by their regional public library.

First-time learners at Archbishop Amissah JHS.
First-time learners at Archbishop Amissah JHS.
First computer class at Archbishop Amissah JHS.
First computer class at Archbishop Amissah JHS.
Thank you all for your support!
Thank you all for your support!
Teachers learn practical computer teaching skills.
Teachers learn practical computer teaching skills.

“We have been teaching in the abstract, which makes it very difficult to explain even the simplest of things to pupils. But with the computers coming in, I believe it will make our work easier,” said Mr Vincent B. Attah, a teacher in Lagos Town, Western Region, Ghana.

 Mr Attah was one of 25 teachers and librarians who attended intensive training in Winneba, Ghana, for the Hands-on computer classes for 1,800 Ghana children project. The librarians and teachers will lead the project in Ashanti, Western, Upper East and Volta regions, taking solar-charged laptop computers and wi-fi internet to poor and rural schools to give the children hands-on computer classes, and help them pass their exams.

 During the five-day course (25 – 28 August), librarians from the four regional libraries and teachers from 15 schools learnt essential technology skills and how to manage large classes to ensure that all students have the opportunity to use the laptops. Each teacher received a USB flash disc pre-loaded with content based on the school curriculum and e-tests to give the children practice answering exam questions. They also learnt how to integrate e-books into classroom teaching.

“I really enjoyed myself. As an ICT teacher, I have learned a lot especially from the first day’s teaching demonstrations. The teaching helped me to group students, and to teach practical computer lessons” said Mr Peter Afrifa Bonsu, a teacher from Ashanti region.

 Earlier in August, librarians from the three regions visited Volta Region, to learn from Volta Regional Library’s mobile library service, which has been providing hands-on computer classes for children in underdeveloped parts of Ho municipality for the past three years.

 Over two days (21 – 22 August) in Volta the visiting librarians learnt to how to prepare the mobile library vans for the classes; how to use solar power, and to download software updates and troubleshoot technical problems so that they will be able to maintain the laptops. They also visited schools to see the hands-on classes in action.

Teachers and librarians who will lead the project.
Teachers and librarians who will lead the project.
Teachers practise using laptops.
Teachers practise using laptops.
Excited pupils at Yakoti Junior High School.
Excited pupils at Yakoti Junior High School.

“We want to thank you for giving us this opportunity to be part of the world!” says Pius Akuta, computer teacher at Yakoti Junior High School.

Yakoti is one of 15 schools in three regions of Ghana that have just been selected to take part in EIFL's Hands on computer classes for 1,800 Ghana children project. 

We are delighted to report that we have consolidated agreements with the Ghana Library Authority and the Ghana-based technology agency, TechAide. With our partners, we have identified the three regions where we will implement the project in 15 rural schools: Ashanti, Western and Upper East regions.

With your support, when the new school starts in September, three regional mobile library vans will launch their programme of regular school visits. The mobile libraries will bring solar-powered laptops and wi-fi internet to the schools. Working with teachers, librarians will teach the children practical ICT skills, helping them pass their exams and improving their chances in life. 

Regional directors of education have welcomed the project, and children and teachers are eagerly awaiting the big day.

“When I heard that my school was to be one of the selected ones, that gave us great joy,” said James Tenga, headmaster of Yakoti Junior High School in Upper East Region.

For many children, this will be their first experience of computers.

“This project is going to improve ICT learning. It will ease the burden of our teachers, and for the children who are struggling to comprehend computers in the abstract,” said Mr Tenga.

Without computers, children learn ICT in theory.
Without computers, children learn ICT in theory.
 

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Organization Information

EIFL

Location: Vilnius, Lithuania - Lithuania
Website: http:/​/​www.eifl.net
Project Leader:
Jean Fairbairn
Vilnius, Lithuania

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