Calls for prioritising ICT education in Ghana
| Updated Jul 10, 2017 at 5:45pm
TOPIC: PRIORITISING ICT EDUCATION IN GHANA.
In 2014, government began the implementation of the ICT for Accelerated Development policy in the education sector, and ICT syllabi for the Basic and Second cycle institutions were developed by the GES and teaching also commenced. While this is commendable, there still remains very serious concerns with the teaching and learning of the subject at all sectors of the educational structure.
In reality, ICT is not given much priority in our schools. The first concern is the fact that the Colleges of Education are not producing teachers who are specialized in the teaching of ICT at the Basic level. Furthermore, many ICT teachers from the universities lack the necessary technical and practical training to be able to teach ICT effectively at the senior high schools. It is common knowledge that majority of our schools do not have the needed infrastructure for ICT teaching and learning.
Recently, a video showing some pupils practicing how to click a computer mouse with stones during an ICT class went viral on social media. It was simply because the school did not have a single computer and the teacher had to improvise. Interestingly, the ICT tutor of the Assin Asamankese D/A Primary School in the Assin South District of the Central Region incurred the wrath of the District Director of Education who claimed his conduct was a disgrace to the school and the district as a whole. It may be true that government has made efforts to provide some facilities, but ironically these go to mainly the well-endowed schools to the neglect of the deprived ones which need them most.
Another concern has to do with the syllabi for the teaching of ICT. It appears that the content is either so vague or shallow that it will require the ingenuity of a teacher to make something out of it. It is not surprising therefore that some students complain that questions asked in BECE have no bearing on what they were taught in school.
As a way forward, there must be a deliberate effort to revolutionize the teaching of ICT in our schools. As the first step, only ICT or Computer Science and Engineering professionals should be made to teach the subject. ICT is a purely technical subject and those who teach it must equally have the technical know-how. There is a notion that when the student is able to make some use of the ICT tool as in computers and mobile devices that is enough indication that ICT education is going on well. That is problematic. The focus should be training the students to actually make productive use of these devices which can make them even employable after school.
There is also the need to improve on the time allotted for the teaching of the subject. The situation where some schools allot the subject, one period of 45 minutes is disturbing. Efforts should be made to allot a minimum of three periods a week to the subject. The problem is, granted the schools have the requisite facilities, what can be achieved in 45 minutes in a week?
Going forward, the National Council for Tertiary Education should introduce ICT education in all Colleges of Education. Institutions of higher learning should offer the much needed practical ICT technical training. Government should ensure equitable distribution of ICT infrastructure. The focus should shift from the provision of laptops to students to the provision of durable desktop computers to schools. There is also the need for a review of the ICT syllabi for both basic and second cycle institutions.
In order to make students pay greater attention to the subject, ICT should be made examinable at the senior high level just as it is in the basic level. If we want to compare Ghanaian students to their counterparts in USA, Britain, China, Japan among others who are able to develop serious ICT projects, then we need to pay better attention to the teaching and learning of the subject. We cannot offer them half-baked education and expect them to be highly productive.
BY CHARLES MENSAH, AN ICT TUTOR , KONADU YIADOM CATHOLIC SENIOR HIGH SCHOOL.