ICT empowers rural children


School pupils have benefited from the UNDP's intervention in creating ICT awareness and spreading computer literacy within rural districts of Ghana (Photo credit: UNDP in Ghana)

For many school children in deprived communities in Ghana, ICT was just a distant dream. Their schools did not have computers. In some cases, there were a few old models which none of them was allowed to practice with.

Akosua Ampomah and her friends at Nkawie in the Ashanti Region were excited to see the setup of the Community Information Centre (CIC) project in their town. After many school terms during which they were learning using worn out books, their schools agreed with the CIC managers to assist with teaching basic ICT for children in accordance to their curriculum.

To the children, the project has come at the right time. Through watching television, they had been able to witness the fact that ICT had played transformational roles in the development of economies worldwide.  Akosua said: “Now, I feel like all these kids I see on television, and I know I am as smart as they are!  Plus, I know I can study whatever I want to, and get the job I like”.

In 2006 , UNDP and the Government of Ghana launched the Community Information Centre (CIC) project as an ICT intervention targeted at the “Deployment and Spread of ICTs in the Community” pillar of the ICT4AD policy document. The aim was to use this civic based project to deploy ICT infrastructure and requisite applications to communities, and develop general and specialized employable ICT skills, including data entry and desktop publishing, at the district and community levels.

The project was geared to providing citizenry with ICT skills and access to the internet, to promote the exploitation of ICTs as an alternative source of livelihood, especially for the youth, and for economic sustainability of beneficiary communities as a whole.

Highlights

  • UNDP and the Government of Ghana launched the project in 2006 to deploy ICT infrastructure to deprived communities
  • The project aimed at promoting the exploitation of ICTs as an alternative source of livelihood, especially for the youth.
  • The project has trained over 80 persons as ICT managers and over 700 officers of decentralized government institutions in the use of ICT to expedite the delivery of government services

The Center Manager, Nicholas Amponsah said ‘scarcely would one find the students playing when it’s time for their ICT lessons. They listen attentively and appreciate every bit of what we teach them from their syllabus. This project has given all of us a sense of support’’.

The inclusion of ICT in the Ghana educational curriculum has further intensified the demand on the CICs to respond to the needs of less privileged schools in the teaching and learning of the ICT component of the educational curriculum.

The centre organizes IT practical sessions for student from 12 beneficiary schools in and around Nkawie. Whilst some of the schools including Nkawie District Assembly (DA) Primary & JHS and Toase DA JHS are located within walking distances from the centre, students from other schools including Nkwakom DA Primary, Amanchie DA Primary & Junior High School (JHS), Kobeng Primary & JHS, Nkorang Roman Catholic (RC) Primary School, and Nkorang DA JHS are happy to travel over 20 miles to access the centre.

With UNDP’s support, over 80 CIC managers have been trained in the management of ICT related centres, and over 700 officers of decentralized government institutions have also been trained nationwide in the use of ICT to expedite the delivery of government services at the district and community levels.

There are over 70 functional CICs nationwide. With an average class size of 30 pupils per class, every week, over 720 school children like Akosua Ampomah benefit from ICT training at the Nkawie CIC where the Practical sessions are attended by school children in upper primary (Primary 4 to 6) and JHS levels.

The centre administers a comprehensive training schedule that permits students from 6 out of the 12 beneficiary schools to participate in the ICT training programme each week.  Akosua Ampomah  said ‘the center has played a  key role in transforming me from a grade ‘C’ student to a grade ‘A’. I am now able to do research on my assignments and lessons’.

The centre operates an ICT club for   school children between the ages of 9 and 15 years. After just one year, the club boasts a membership of 50 children, with 52% (26) girls.

Members of the club have free access to the Science, Math and English educational program and games. Although the club currently consists of school children from Saltpond, parents of children from other neighbouring communities are getting their wards registered on the team.

In addition, teachers and administrators of some deprived schools that are beyond 30 miles from the centre, including Kuntu Municipal Assembly (MA) JHS, have promised to convey their students to participate in IT training programmes at the centre, and subsequently encourage them to enroll on the ICT club to benefit from the free complementary lessons in Science, Math and English.

The membership of the club is expected to increase to about 200 by the end of the 2010 – 2011 academic year. For me (Akosua Ampomah), “the lesson from the centre has equipped me with skills that I previously had not acquired and I can attest to the profound impact especially on my grades’’.