Improving Virtual Learning on GL-TV at Basic Education Level in the Era of Covid-19
The alacrity with which the Ministry of Education, collaborating successfully with the Ghana Education Service (GES) to roll up educational programmes from the Kindergarten to Senior High School learners to comfortably learn from their homes despite the COVID -19's disruptions in regular academic work is very commendable.
The Ghana Learning Television(GL-TV) channel has come just in the nick of time to save our learners from academic idleness owing to the ban of public gatherings including schools. Learners can now occupy themselves with interesting virtual lessons based on their curriculum on the GL-TV channel as they remain at home, uncertain of a resumption date for schools. By this, while they stay at home to prevent the spread of the corona virus, they learn as well.
The excellent lesson delivery by expert facilitators are also worthy of praise. The qualification of facilitators, with their on-the-field experience, coupled with a strong backroom of academic and professional gurus have made this learning experience a great delight. In comparison with a similar learning programme by a sister West African nation, I can unequivocally say with pride that, Ghana's GL-TV programme is miles ahead. Kudos.
This milestone, however, can be more beneficial to Ghanaian learners if measures are taken to address the few identified challenges to hone in its efficiency and relevance to all learners.
One of the core principles of the Free Compulsory Universal Basic Education(FCUBE,1995) emphasizes education being for all. Unfortunately, the GL-TV programme has a sharp restricted coverage for its intended learners due to electricity supply. Data from the USAID last updated in 16th April, 2020 reveals that while 9% of Ghanaians in the urban areas do not have access to electricity, as many as 50% of those in the rural areas do not have electricity supply. In totality, one million, two hundred thousand households in Ghana do not have access to electricity supply (www.usaid.gov/powerafrica/ghana). The data above shows that the learning programme is not beneficial to the unfortunate learners in the rural parts of the country due to lack of electricity.
Another challenge of the GL-TV programme is the transmission challenge. This virtual learning channel is only available on digital televisions, DSTV, GOTV and Startimes. Apart from airing the GL-TV freely on the digital televisions, the DSTV, GOTV and Startimes all require a monthly payment subscription in order to access the channel. Most Ghanaians are unfortunately unable to afford these monthly payments. Again, many Ghanaians do not own the digital televisions(commonly known as flat-screen TVs) on which the GL-TV is aired freely. Here again, the rural areas are the most disadvantaged as most of their households use the Multi TV digiboxes connected to the Cathode Ray Tube(CRT) TVs.
Ghana's language policy has over the years remained the use of the local language(L1) as the medium of instruction from Kindergarten to Primary 3 and English language(L2) from Primary 4 onwards. Contrast to this policy, all the lessons monitored on the GL-TV from KG to Primary 3 are entirely delivered in the English language. Schools who adhere to the use of the L1 as a medium of instruction at the lower level sadly have their learners being disadvantaged because in the typical Ghanaian school, a handful of learners in the KG and lower level would understand the English language used throughout the lesson delivery with particular emphasis in the diction of some of the facilitators.
It is my humble recommendation to the Ministry of Education and the GES that the GL-TV programme should be aired on Multimedia's MultiTV since the majority of the average Ghanaians use the MultiTV digiboxes in their various homes. This would cast the coverage net of the programme wide open and accessible to the majority of the Basic School learners.
I also appreciate the fact that there are several different local languages in Ghana. However, the Akan language seems to be the predominantly spoken. Facilitators should intermittently use the Twi language alongside the English language to enhance understanding by learners from the Kindergarten to Primary 3.
Parents should also play a critical role in this new virtual learning TV programme by ensuring that their wards remain glued to the lessons of their grades and take part in the activities in the lessons. If learners are constantly monitored by their parents, the tendency of veering off the GL-TV channel to watch other non educative programmes becomes minimal.
Finally, the nation should increase access to electricity supply by embarking on a rigorous agenda 100% electrification project. The current access rate of 83% is impressive, but government should strive to light up every nook and cranny of the nation, whether rural or urban so as not to put any Ghanaian learner at a power disadvantage.
As we hope and pray for an end of the Covid-19 pandemic and a resumption to school, the GL-TV programme should be maintained even in the post-Covid -19 era.
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