Please briefly describe the initiative, what issue or challenge it aims to address and specify its objectives. (300 words maximum)
In Ghana, the Basic Education Certificate Examination (B.E.C.E) is a crucial exams as it is a gateway to the Senior Secondary School and ICT exams happens to be one of the subjects a student must sit in order to have an overall pass mark.
However, many schools in poor and rural areas do not have computers, internet connections or electricity, and so children fail their ICT exams.
Even with the recent free SHS policy introduced in the country where every child gains admission to a school irrespective of the grade attained, students enter into the Senior High Schools with much theoretical knowledge without having any practice of what they have learnt.
The cost of failure for children and the country therefore is the loss of interest to explore careers in Technology, the possibility of having enough skills to pursue them as well as the inability to compete in the international job-market, and the cycle of poverty continues.
The Hands-on Mobile ICT classes’ project, a flagship project of the Ghana Library Authority was implemented to contribute to efforts in addressing the growing need in Ghana for increased skills in Technology for the overall development of the country.
The project therefore was to help improve ICT education and ICT exams pass rate of Junior High School students by bringing hands-on mobile computer classes to remote and under resourced schools in the country.
Please explain how the initiative is linked to the selected category. (100 words maximum)
The initiative is linked to the fourth SDG goals as a result of it helping to improve on the quality of both basic and secondary education in ICT for all boys and girls leading to better examination results, increased desire of exploring future carriers in Technology and to promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.
a. Please specify which SDGs and target(s) the initiative supports and describe concretely how the initiative has contributed to their implementation. (200 words maximum)
Goal 4: Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.
Target 4.1: By 2030, ensure that all girls and boys complete free, equitable and quality primary and secondary education leading to relevant and effective learning outcomes.
The Initiative has contributed to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda as a result of it helping to improve on the quality of education through ICT and the increase of ICT examination pass scores by children in rural areas in primary to secondary education.
In 2014/15, before the expanded project started, the average pass rate in ICT at Basic Education Certificate Examination (B.E.C.E) level in the selected schools was just 45%. In 2016, It increased to 65%; in 2017 to 81%;in 2018 it was 85% and in 2019 it was 84%.
The above statistics clearly indicates that the initiative has brought a massive change in the area of ICT amongst schools in the deprived communities that were part of the project.
Again, not only did it improve on the examination results of all who partook in the initiative, but students also had hands-on ICT experience that they can develop into meaningful skills in the near future.
b. Please describe what makes the initiative sustainable in social, economic and environmental terms. (100 words maximum)
Evidence of the impact from the project, collected by the four regional libraries, and advocacy by GhLA, convinced the Ghana Investment Fund for Electronic Communications (GIFEC), a government agency, to equip the remaining six mobile regional libraries operated by the GhLA with laptop computers.
GIFEC’s support makes it possible for the GhLA to transform the project into a sustainable service that will be done in 10 regions: the four regions that took part in the EIFL project were Ashanti, Upper East, Volta and Western. The other six are Brong-Ahafo, Central, Eastern, Greater Accra, Northern and Upper West.
a. Please explain how the initiative has addressed a significant shortfall in governance, public administration or public service within the context of a given country or region. (200 words maximum)
One significant shortfall the initiative has helped to improve is in the area of technology amongst Ghanaians, especially those in the rural areas. The cost of failure for children in ICT exams and the country's loss of interest to explore careers in Technology, the possibility of having enough skills by citizens to pursue as well as the inability to compete in the international job-market, leading to continues poverty was one challenging area the government of the country sort to address and to improve upon.
Again, the inability of the government to supply all schools with Technological equipment to improve on ICT studies in schools located in the rural areas.
As a result, the Mobile computer classes’ project, a flagship project of the Ghana Library Authority was implemented to contribute to efforts in addressing the growing need in Ghana for increased skills in Technology for the overall development of the country.
b. Please describe how your initiative addresses gender inequality in the country context. (100 words maximum)
The aim of the initiative was to improve ICT education and ICT exam pass rate of students by bringing hands on mobile computer classes to remote and under resourced schools. in this part of our world, girls are usually under privileged when it comes to education.
However, this initiative addresses the gender inequality due to the fact that opportunities were made available to all girls and boys; both gender were given an equal opportunity to be part of the project, - including all physically challenged persons who fell within the stated projects target group.
c. Please describe who the target group(s) were, and explain how the initiative improved outcomes for these target groups. (200 words maximum)
The target group were mainly made up of children from Junior High Schools 1-3 without computers and or ICT teachers. This was made up of both girls and boys who had equal opportunities to be part of the project, - including all physically challenged persons who were in the stated grade. In 2020, we included ICT teachers from the various selected schools to be part of the target group.
a. Please describe how the initiative was implemented including key developments and steps, monitoring and evaluation activities, and the chronology. (300 words)
The project started with three regional libraries. The three libraries consulted their respective regional education offices, and identified 15 under resourced schools (five in each region) that would benefit from the mobile ICT classes. The Librarians from the three regions visited the Volta Regional Library to learn how to prepare their mobile libraries for the classes; how to use and maintain the solar panels and other equipment to be used for their ICT classes, and to see the hands-on computer classes in action.
They also attended a workshop for librarians and ICT teachers from the 15 selected schools at which librarians from Volta Region conducted training on how to manage large ICT classes using a limited number of laptops and how to use the pre-loaded educational content.
Working with Accra-based social enterprise, TechAIDE, the libraries installed the equipment in the mobile libraries. TechAIDE also preloaded the laptops with contents related to school subjects, like geography, mathematics, science and English, practice exam questions, and other useful and fun learning tools. Each of the three regional libraries received 15 laptop computers and solar panels to charge them; a modem for the internet; a canopy, desks and chairs for large outdoor classes; a projector and screen, and a printer to print out notes for the children to take home. From 2015 to 2019, the project helped over 3,200 children attending poor and rural schools in four regions to pass the B.E.C.E. and progress to secondary school. Exam results improved annually throughout the life of the project as children from JHS 1 and 2 were able to build on their knowledge and practical skills year by year until they reached JHS 3 - the year they must write the B.E.C.E. Selected Coordinators were in charge of monthly monitoring and evaluation of project activities.
b. Please clearly explain the obstacles encountered and how they were overcome. (100 words)
A major challenge encountered was, every week, parents had to move their children from schools which were not benefitting from the project to schools that were fortunate to be part of the project. They wanted their children to have the opportunity to learn about technology and to pass their exams, due to the number of parents moving their children to beneficiary schools, regional coordinators had to increase the number of times they used to visit a particular school in a week just to be able to cater for the new students from other schools as a result of limited recourses.
a. Please explain in what ways the initiative is innovative in the context of your country or region. (100 words maximum)
The Volta Regional Library came up with an idea to improve the B.E.C.E. pass rate in the municipality. The idea was to equip a van with low-power laptop computers, solar panels and internet modem to visit under-resourced schools to conduct practical computer classes. In 2012, the Library was awarded a small grant for a year-long pilot project to implement their idea in five schools, first of its kind
The pilot project was so successful that a campaign was launched to attract donors for extra funds, enabling us to scale up the project to three more regions.
b. Please describe, if relevant, how the initiative drew inspiration from successful initiatives in other regions, countries and localities. (100 words maximum)
The initiative started in 2012 as a pilot project, due to the success of the project, a fundraising campaign through GlobalGiving UK was launched to enable us scale up. The campaign attracted major funding from the technology company, Nokia, in 2015, enabling us to extend the project by including three more regions with the potential of reaching over 1,800 children in more than 20 junior high schools annually. From 2020, 10 ICT-equipped mobile libraries will go to schools and conduct hands-on computer classes in under-resourced schools in 10 regions of Ghana.
c. If emerging and frontier technologies were used, please state how these were integrated into the initiative and/or how the initiative embraced digital government. (100 words maximum)
Some emerging technologies that were used in our initiative in 2015 was the solar panel and power chargers that we had to fix on our mobile vans to enable us power equipment such us laptops, printers, and projects etc. during ICT classes in the selected rural areas.
a. Has the initiative been transferred and/or adapted to other contexts (e.g. other cities, countries or regions) to your organization’s knowledge? If yes, please explain where and how. (200 words maximum)
As stated earlier, the initiative started in 2012 as a pilot project, but due to the kind of success achieved after the first project has ended, a fundraising campaign had to be organized to enable us scale up.
The campaign attracted major funding from the technology company, Nokia, in 2015, this enabled us to extend the project to three other regions namely Ashanti, Upper East, Volta and the Western Region.
b. If not yet transferred/adapted to other contexts, please describe the potential for transferability. (200 words maximum)
The project has been transferred successfully to three other regions, making a total of four regions that have benefited from this initiative, in 2020 the project was again extended to the remaining six regions but due to the spread of the COVID-19 and closure of schools, the project had to be put on hold, However, new measures were put in place that were in line with the COVID-9 regulations. An example was having students learn via the national TV station in the country as we fight the Virus.
a. What specific resources (i.e. financial, human or others) were used to implement the initiative? (100 words maximum)
Resources used for the project were financial resources in terms of funds raised for the purchasing of fuel (transportation), solar panels, laptops, printers, projectors, screen, maintenance of the mobile vans, and payment of Coordinators allowances.
Human resource in terms of Regional Librarians and Coordinators responsible for carrying out project activities by visiting selected schools for the project.
Space: classrooms or huts that were provided by some school principals and community leaders to enable us teach the children whenever we visit their schools or communities.
b. Please explain what makes the initiative sustainable over time, in financial and institutional terms. (100 words maximum)
As stated earlier due to success from the pilot project, GhLA had to launch a fundraising campaign through GlobalGiving UK to enable us extend the project to other regions and for the continuity of the project. Besides this, the Ghana Library Authority has also put in place financial strategies to ensure we have a steady flow of funds from other donors. Again the Authority has put in place some measures for generating internal revenue to enable us maintain and continue the project after funding from donors comes to an end.
a. Was the initiative formally evaluated either internally or externally?
b. Please describe how it was evaluated and by whom? (100 words maximum)
From the projects execution phase, Ghana Library Authority and project partners have been working together to enable us achieve project goals and objectives. Monthly and quarterly reports were sent to project partners as and when there was a need to evaluate activities that had been executed in line with the project activities and budget.
Partners also had direct contact with all the schools and their principals to which they carry out their own investigations and evaluation with respect to the number of times coordinators visited their schools, number of students benefiting from the project and their examination results.
c. Please describe the indicators and tools used. (100 words maximum)
A comparison was made with results from past B.E.C.E records of students from selected schools, with results from students who took part in the initiative from Junior High School 1 to Junior High School 3 before they wrote their examinations.
After that, results were again compared with records from students who wrote their examination before the initiative began with results from students who took part in the initiative after they sat for their exams.
Results clearly showed an improvement in their exams due to the execution of the initiative in the selected regions.
d. What were the main findings of the evaluation (e.g. adequacy of resources mobilized for the initiative, quality of implementation and challenges faced, main outcomes, sustainability of the initiative, impacts) and how is this information being used to inform the initiative’s implementation? (200 words maximum)
Findings from evaluations carried out indicated that if students from the rural areas were to be given equal opportunities just like students in the urban areas, examination results from all final year Junior High School students on a national level can be improved, not only in ICT but in all fields of subject.
Again, if the initiative was to be given the adequate resources needed to expand the project to several community schools in other rural areas, it would ease the pressure on the use of the few equipment for the execution of work - improve on the life span of our gadgets. It would also save parents the stress of moving their children from other schools who couldn't benefit from the initiative to those that did.
Due to the above results, measures were put in place to extend the project to the rest of the remaining six regions to enable other students benefit from the initiative.
We again had to put in maintenance strategies in order not to shorten the life span of our equipment, especially, the library vans we have been using to visit the selected communities and schools.
Please describe how the initiative is inscribed in the relevant institutional landscape (for example, how is it situated with respect to relevant government agencies, and how have these institutional relationships been operating). (200 words maximum)
Ghana Library Authority is a government agency and we operate under the Ministry Of Education (MoE) who is our mother agency. We have had support from GIFEC which is also a government agency.
The government seeks to improve on the use of technology in our educational system. This is to help pupils in our schools to be computer literates.
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development puts emphasis on collaboration, engagement, partnerships, and inclusion. Please describe which stakeholders were engaged in designing, implementing and evaluating the initiative and how this engagement took place. (200 words maximum)
Some stakeholders involved were Eifl, GIFEC, Regional Librarians, ICT teachers, Project Coordinators from selected regions, regional education offices, selected school principals and some community leaders.
The three libraries consulted their respective regional education offices and identified 15 under resourced schools (five in each region) that would be beneficiaries of the Mobile ICT classes. The Librarians from the three regions visited Volta Regional Library to learn how to prepare their mobile libraries for the classes.
They also attended a workshop for librarians and ICT teachers from the 15 selected schools at which librarians from Volta Region conducted training on how to manage large ICT classes.
Please describe the key lessons learned, and how your organization plans to improve the initiative. (200 words maximum)
As the saying goes "practice makes perfect" and proper preparation prevents poor performance, if students can practice whatever they're taught theoretically then their examinations will also become very easy because they would always remember what they practiced. The classes did not only help students to pass their exams but also taught them how to carry out online research - and to acquire more information about what they were taught in class.
As a result, we negotiated with some of the schools to enable us spend more hours in teaching students other benefits of Technology besides just learning to pass an exams. This is to help arouse the desires of students to pursue future careers in Technology. Again, it is our utmost desire that we would increase the number of library vans in a community from a single van to at least two vans in order to reach out to schools in different communities.