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30.05.2008 Technology

International Conference On ICT For Development Opens In Accra

By GNA
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Vice President Alhaji Aliu Mahama yesterday reiterated government's commitment for a comprehensive programme of rapid deployment and utilisation of ICT within the education sector to transform the system and thereby improve the lives of the people.
     
He said through the deployment of ICT in education, the culture and practice of traditional memory-based learning would be transformed to education that would stimulate thinking and creativity necessary to meet the challenges of the 21st century.
     
Alhaji Mahama said this at the formal opening ceremony of the Third International Conference on ICT for development, Education and Training dubbed 'e-Learning Africa Conference' in Accra.
     
About 83 countries are participating in the conference, which is an annual event for developing e-Learning capacities in Africa.
     
It is under the patronage of the Ministry of Education, Science and Sports and being sponsored by Microsoft, Google, Oracle, Panasonic, Ecobank,
NComputing, Kenya Airways, among others.
     
The Vice President announced that a number of policies had been developed in Ghana and initiatives had been taken towards the achievement of the NEPAD e-Schools Initiative by 2015 in the march towards showcasing the country's role in Africa's development potential and promoting African excellence.
     
Those policies and initiatives include the development of the ICT for Accelerated Development (ICT4AD) Policy, the ICT in Education Policy, the Ghana Poverty Reduction Strategy Documents, the establishment of the Kofi Annan Centre of Excellence in ICT, implementation of the Demonstration Project of the NEPAD e-Schools Project and the Integration of ICT in the Curriculum.
     
'It is worth to note that all Teacher Training Colleges in Ghana have since 2007, been churning out teachers who are skilled in how to integrate technology in the teaching-learning process.
     
'Several in-service training programmes are being organised for teachers in the field and our tertiary institutions in particular are at the threshold of
deploying the e-Learning mode in the education delivery process.'
     
Alhaji Mahama noted that the concept of globalisation had brought in its wake new political and economic principles of social development.
     
'ICT has changed the way we live, learn, work and even think. In this market era and knowledge economy, economic prosperity depends on brains rather than brawn,' he said, adding that, it was therefore obvious that the world's technological landscape was changing fast with new technologies depending increasingly on scientific and technological knowledge.
     
He, therefore, stressed the need for developing countries to brace themselves to the challenge that the issue about brain drain from their respective countries might continue to haunt them for a long time if they could not work fast in respect of providing the appropriate infrastructure and enabling environment for bridging the digital divide both in education and in industry.
     
'ICT will continue to evolve whether we catch it or not. I am hopeful, however, that our resolve in Africa in the area of bridging the digital divide, at least from the perspective of the African Union through the New Partnership for Africa's Development, acknowledges a number of progressive dimensions worthy
of notice.'
     
Professor Dominic Fobih, Minister for Education, Science and Sports, said the development of digital content with local cultural orientation was one great
Need, as they planned the deployment of e-Learning facilities in educational systems in Africa.
     
He noted that the recipe for developing e-Learning materials for Africa needed to have African flavourings and seasonings in order to make understanding of the concept easier.
     
The Minister also mentioned infrastructure - power, network and structural, access to ICT hardware and affordable bandwidth charges, access to knowledge
resources and potential threat to moral status of students without proper guidance especially if their main source of knowledge was the internet, funds and capital intensive nature of ICT in education deployment as other challenges.
     
Prof  Fobih said he hoped that the event would make a significant impact in the education arena in Africa.
     
'We hope to see remarkable bridging of the digital divide as an ultimate outcome of this and similar events in Africa,' he said and called on participants to ensure that there was effective networking across the African continent to share experiences and enhance total development.
     
Professor Jophus Anamuah-Mensah, former Vice Chancellor of University of Education, Winneba, who chaired the occasion, said the conference was to engage in learning conversation through ICT.  He said it was also to embrace change in technology through transformation and creating learning environment.
     
Prof. Anamuah-Mensah commended the organisers for a great job well done, saying, 'the number of participants present reflects the importance African countries attach to ICT.'

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