Vice President Bawumia’s recent comment regarding the 'One student, one laptop' initiative has sparked rage, with critics arguing that the program would have minimal impact and result in significant financial costs to the state.
Ibrahim Murtala Muhammed, Member of Parliament for Tamale Central Constituency, has voiced his concerns, highlighting the need for policy statements to be inspired by the reality.
In an interview on TV3’s ‘Newday’ morning show, the lawmaker emphasized that a policy statement should not merely be a statement of intent but should also be practical and feasible for implementation.
“...so I get the sense that they still don’t appreciate what a policy statement is and what a policy station of government is. If he does, I really don’t think that he’ll be making this statement because, policy statement is not just a statement of intent but that statement of intent should be anchored on reality,” he stated.
In this case, he expressed doubt about the potential impact of the 'One student, one laptop' initiative, particularly considering the financial implications for the state.
He said, “It should be something that can be implemented, and must be something that should yield positive results. The results here could be financial, it could be the impact it could have on the learning and teaching of our kids. This particular statement policy would have no impact whatsoever…it is going to cost the state millions of cedis…”
He pointed out that secondary schools already have access to the necessary materials, while basic-level schools lack progress including classrooms and furniture.
“The secondary schools have the materials available, yet at the basic level, they do not have. And the reason is not because they lack curricular. It is because the state doesn't have money, yet you spend millions of dollars to secure something for a sector that they already have,” he said.
Another aspect raised by Hon. Mohammed is the reliance of these devices on electricity.
He pointed out the lack of electricity to numerous communities is another challenge that will definitely not help with the usage of the laptops.
“Electricity…these gadgets we’re talking about are gadgets that use electricity to function because you’ll be charging them. How many communities do we not sit here and complain that the massive electrification with president Mahama and the NDC started hace stalled. How many communities haven't we had that and how dependable are the sources of electricity in those areas?” he questioned.
He also highlighted the potential technical faults associated with relying solely on electronic devices for education.
In case the devices freeze or malfunction, he noted that fixing them will be another challenge since there are no laptop repairers in deprived areas.
“Mind you, we're also talking about gadgets that can freeze. Assuming that a student comes to school with that tablet and the student is supposed to study Social Studies or Chemistry or Biology for example, and now the tablet freezes, that student may not be able to learn - that is the point. Others who have their devices working will be able to,” he said.
He adds, “Even in the most advanced countries, they still have textbooks . The reason is that the hard copies send a message entirely from the electronics. Many people may even find it extremely difficult to use it.”