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25.07.2005 General News

President urges common agreement on ICT strategies


Ho, July 25, GNA - President John Agyekum Kufuor on Monday urged African nations to agree on common Information Communication Technology (ICT) implementation strategies in Education, which must reflect nine core issues. These include a commitment to implementing existing policies for the integration of ICT in education, development of sub-regional policy guidelines for effective partnership mechanism for cost-sharing, human resource development and optimisation of existing capacity in all areas of ICT use in education, an environment to reduce connectivity costs and supply of adequate band-with. The others are accelerated result- oriented policies and programmes to eliminate digital divide and inequalities, a network on the use of ICTs to foster interactions and sharing of experiences and resources given the continent's resource constraints.

The rest are intensifying efforts to raise the quality of teacher professional development in formal and non-formal education, the use of relevant and context appropriate ICTs, especially interactive Radio Instruction for literacy and non-formal education and and forging meaningful and beneficial collaborations with the private sector to support sustainability and further roll-out plans.

The President's recommendations were contained in his speech read by Mr. Albert Kan-Dapaah, Minister of Communication at the national launch of the New Partnership For Africa's Development (NEPAD) e-schools demonstration project at OLA Secondary Ho, in the Volta Region.

Other schools in the one-year project include Wa Secondary School-Upper-West, Walwwale Secondary-Technical-Northern Region, Saint Augustine's Secondary- Western region, Acherensua Secondary school- Brong-Ahafo and Akomadan Secondary- Ashanti Region.

President Kufuor said the project would be a catalyst to removing social and geographical barriers, while increasing access to information and quality education in which every teacher would have to enhance the teaching and learning process of his or her subject through ICT tools.

"In this connection ICT training centres are to be built in all regions to provide the requisite preparation for our teachers to undertake the new challenges in our educational system", the President said.

President Kufuor, said "experts have observed that the learning styles of the youth today have changed. It is said that they easily get bored reading materials from printed books and prefer dynamic digital materials, then it is important that teachers adapt their teaching pedagogies to suit current learning styles of their students".

The President said the foresight of the e-Africa Commission on the e-schools project needed the support and commendation of all because Africa needed to develop her knowledge base rapidly through massive investments in human resource development with emphasis on economic activities with intellectual content.

In his remarks Dr. Kofi Konadu Apraku, Minister Regional Co-operation and NEPAD said the project aimed at preparing Africa for the future by imparting ICT skills and knowledge to Africa's younger generation to enable them to function and participate as equals in the emerging global economy and information society of the 21 century. In a statement, Ms Elizabeth Ohene, Minister of State for Education and Sports urged teachers to rise up to the challenge and take ownership of the e- Schools initiative.

She said, by this initiative, "the computer should no longer be seen as a glorified typewriter, but should be regarded as a tutor, an organizer, a presentation agent, a search agent, a data processor, a remedial and extension agent and an interactive agent."

"The new learning shift is from linear to hypermedia, instruction to construction, absorbing material to learning how to navigate and how to learn from school learning to life-long learning, from learning as a torture to learning as fun, from teacher as a transmitter to teacher as facilitator", Ms Ohene said.

The Executive Deputy Chairman of the NEPAD e-Africa Commission, Dr. Henry Chasia said the aim of the project is to install ICT in over 600,000 Primary and Secondary schools in Africa, which would be connected to the internet and to train millions of pre-service and in-service teachers in the use of information technology to prepare and present teaching material in the most interesting ways to their pupils. He said Ghana is the second country after Uganda where the initiative is being launched.

Dr Chasia said, "the initiative is necessary because everywhere else in the world that is what governments of the various nations are doing. In Africa we cannot afford to do less because to do so is to tamper recklessly with our future."

He said experience gained from countries, which had done so earlier indicated that "with this technology, with these skills in the hands of our people, not only are we able to improve the performance of the various sectors, we will also be in a position to facilitate the creation of new jobs in new fields which are difficult to predict today."