KETA – ICT education in Ghana

By Marc Greber

“As a great social leveller, information technology ranks second only to death. It can raze cultural barriers, overwhelm economic inequalities, even compensate for intellectual disparities.“ – Sam Pitroda [1]

Big words from an interesting person, you should really read about.

Another social leveller of immense power is education and I want to introduce a great women who I had the pleasure to meet: Margarete Grimus, who became a teacher in 1965 and returned to university to obtain a degree in IT in 1994, worked in teacher education all her life [2]

I want to tell you about especially about one of her projects, called the KETA project, taking place in a small town in Ghana, named Keta.

The aim of the project was to establish a workshop for teachers to improve digital literacy and teach them basic skills for their daily work – work Margarete was familiar with, but what she encountered problems that she couldn’t even think about while being in Vienna.

The two 7-days-workshops took place September 2012 and September 2013. When Margarete entered the class room in Keta Senior High Technical School she was astonished because the whole room was filled up with PCs – a fact she did not expect.

Class room with PCs

But after a short investigation, she found out that only a few of them were properly working, the others were broken and there was nobody to repair them. A scenario that Madanmohan Rao mentions in his text „The information society: visions and realities in developing countries“: „Many early well-intentioned ICT projects in developing countries failed because they were too technology-centric or stopped merely at the installation phase of computers.“ [3]

Another obstacle that complicated the workshop was the fact that there were regular electrical power outages that forced them to switch to pen and paper instead of keyboard and mouse. And even when the computers were working, the internet connection was so slow that many resources of the web could not be achieved through bandwidth problems. A topic that is the main pusher for the digital divide. [3]

In this phases of isolation, Margarete started to concentrate on the preparation of teaching materials since „content“ is one of the major Cs of ICT4D Rao covers in his writings. She discovered that although the official language is English, a large portion of the pupils were not able to speak it, but they had to use teaching material in English to learn other subjects.

Empowerment!

Margarete decided to push the production of content to a whole new level and started to design content together with the group and use its choice of language and its informational content.

To avoid shortages of teaching material, Margarete Grimus used a technology that many of the students (30 percent) [x] had access to: mobile phones.

Get mobile through Android

Unlike computers they can be powered by battery and are insusceptible for energy crashes and most viruses. Moreover they can be used to share the content produced without needing money to produce books with the content. A perfect example where SSA (Sub-Saharan Africa) just skipped a step in technical progress by skipping telephone landlines. [4]

In this talk Grimus held in March 2014, she prognoses: „In five years all textbooks in Ghanaian Senior High Secondary Schools a rep roved as eBooks“. [5]

Young people are mobile affine and if the millennium goals really should become true, a project like KETA is a step in the right direction.

Education is a step towards the creation of a stable and fair society [6] – you can contribute to follow-up-projects like the ketascomobile (a project for teaching mobile programming) through this link.

[1] http://bibliotecavirtual.clacso.org.ar/ar/libros/edicion/media/34Chapter27.pdf p.427
[2] http://www.grimus.or.at/2012%20CV_engl_grimus_.pdf
[3] http://bibliotecavirtual.clacso.org.ar/ar/libros/edicion/media/22Chapter16.pdf
[4] http://www.tubar.com.tr/TUBAR%20DOSYA/development%20theory%20-%20jan%20nederveen%20pieterse.pdf p.184
[5] https://tube.tugraz.at/engage/ui/watch.html?id=20487af3-dc2d-4ed6-b488-4c2bf5b832ff
[6] http://www.unesco.org/new/en/education/themes/leading-the-international-agenda/efareport/reports/2013/2013-summary-epub-en/#22

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1 comment

  1. Irene Salas

    The language barrier is an interesting point. Working with Video SEWA I found this was one of the biggest problems they had in terms of monitoring and evaluation and for capacitation since they barely understand English. I believe it’s a very common thing in many parts of the world where ICT programs are implemented.
    However I am curious to know how they eventually implement a class through mobile phones, because the net has to be quite good also…and I guess that’s another barrier.

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