Project #13333

Hands on computer classes for 1,800 Ghana children

Students of the Hands-on Computer Classes project.
Students of the Hands-on Computer Classes project.

“I’ve passed my exams! I’m through to secondary school!”

This is the message 204 excited children from five schools in Ghana’s Upper East region could take home after they received the results of the Basic Education Certificate Examination (B.E.C.E).

The children are all students of the Hands-on Computer Classes project. Since the begining of the year, mobile libraries equipped with laptops and wi-fi internet have been travelling to under-resourced rural schools in four regions of Ghana every week to give children practical computer classes and vital exam preparation sessions. 

Overall, 64% of the children who wrote the B.E.C.E. exam at the five Upper East schools passed - a remarkable 54% more than in 2015, when the B.E.C.E. pass rate was just 10%. In a short survey, teachers at the schools said the libraries’ practical computer skills classes had significantly improved the children’s performance in Information and Communications Technology (ICT).

“As a result of the library’s classes, many children saw a laptop for the first time. Their performance in school tests improved tremendously,” said Pius Adombila, a delighted teacher.

“I can now use the computer to type, store and retrieve information easily. I can now browse the internet, create new email addresses and use Facebook to make friends across the world,” said Joseph Adingo, who is now a proud secondary school student.

The project has also raised awareness about the value of ICT in farming communities. “More community members are coming to the library to use our internet services,” said librarian Leslie Kasanga. 

The children, parents, teachers and librarians all have one important message for the New Year: "We want these classes to continue! Thank you for your support!" 

Exam preparation using the library
Exam preparation using the library's laptops.
The library van on the way to a rural school.
The library van on the way to a rural school.
Children help unpack the library vans.
Children help unpack the library vans.

We’re crossing our fingers for the children who took their 2016 Basic Education Certificate Examinations (B.E.C.E.) in June. These are the exams that determine whether children attending basic schools in Ghana will progress to secondary school.

This year, thanks to your support, hundreds of children attending 20 schools in four regions of Ghana stand a better chance of passing their exams in Information and Communication Technology (ICT) - one of the eight compulsory subjects of B.E.C.E.  

Every week over the past six months, mobile libraries have been travelling to five schools in each region, bringing solar-powered laptops to give the children hands on computer practice. The laptops are pre-loaded with educational content that supports ICT learning and testing.

Just before the exams, we interviewed children at Abountem Junior High School near the town of Kumasi in Ashanti Region.

“Since the computers are here, I feel easy,” Esther told us.

Herbert wants to be a doctor one day. He is very aware that he will have to pass the B.E.C.E. to achieve his dream.

“I now feel more confident about doing the B.E.C.E. At first, using computers was difficult for me, but as time goes on it is easier – and I even have a Facebook account,” he said.

Teachers have been using the laptops to help the children prepare for their exams. Peter, an ICT teacher since 2007, knows what it is like to teach in a school that has no computers and limited learning materials. “The mobile library van is really helping. For example, it is quite difficult to teach children in abstract a simple subject like e-mailing, but now the children can go online and do it,” he said.

Now it is just a matter of waiting for the exam results, which will be released from September 12. Join us in holding thumbs for the children, and stay tuned for our next report, when we will be able to tell you how they fared.

Herbert, who wants to be a doctor one day.
Herbert, who wants to be a doctor one day.
Laptops help Esther with her ICT literacy.
Laptops help Esther with her ICT literacy.
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:

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!

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Organization Information


Location: Vilnius, Lithuania - Lithuania
Website: http:/​/​
Project Leader:
Jean Fairbairn
Vilnius, Lithuania

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