Friday, July 5, 2013

The use of mobile phone by students of senior high schools in Ghana - good or bad! From ICT in Education practitioner point of view

Very recently, the Ghana Education Service (GES) expressed passionate concern about the use of mobile phones by students in Senior High Schools in Ghana and reminded us all of the fact that students (first and second cycle) were not permitted to use phones in school. The GES expressed worry that students spend a lot of their time playing (chatting, texting and surfing the internet) with their mobile phones in class. These are serious concerns that need to be looked at especially if these are the reasons why there should be a ban on the use of mobile phones in schools.

While this ban is in place, Government is trying very hard to make ICT universal in all schools. This commitment is clearly seen in the Ghana ICT for Accelerated Development Policy -2003. The Ministry of Education, to firm up Government’s commitment also developed the ICT in Education Policy – 2008. These show ample evidence of the commitment to mainstream ICT in Education. 

Reading through the two policy documents, it becomes very difficult for me to reconcile the commitments and programmes in the policy documents to an existing ban on the use of mobile phones in schools in Ghana. Can we speak of main streaming ICTs in Education without thinking of what mobile technology brings to fore in the classroom?

Most basic ‘simple’ phones have the camera, recorder, calculator, currency convertor, stopwatch, location finder, dictionary etc. features or functionality. These are very useful to students at all levels of education. For the student, the phone can be a calculator. Students can use cameras in phones to record details of practical lessons and other experiments. Geography students would find the location finder function useful in Map reading lessons. Students can also use the phones to listen to useful discussions on radio that broadens their horizon. Mobile phones can also reduce barrier of entry of computers into the classroom. 

Going a just a “little high tech” most that are internet enabled are very useful to students as they can do research online as well as use as a reference. 
While we try to bridge the gap between allowing and not allowing mobile phones in schools, we should also focus on how we introduce mobile technology, with sound pedagogy so that teachers will accept it. Mobile technology requires a different approach to instruction. It requires a collaborative, interactive, exploratory approach where questions are asked, answers sought, and the teacher provides the guidance for a successful learning experience. 

As a practitioner, I think that the current discussion of use or non-use of mobile devices is indicative of the larger picture about the progress made in integrating technology with pedagogical strategies to foster learning - and maybe a reason for us to revisit the implementation strategies of the Ghana ICT4AD Policy document as well as the ICT in Education Policy. Are we getting the implementation right? Are we involving all key stakeholders in the implementation strategies?

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Yilonayili School Gets Computer Laboratory

Yilonayili School Gets Computer Laboratory

Savannah Signatures (Savsign), a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), has set up a computer laboratory at the Yilonayili Junior High School in the Tamale Metropolis’ of the Northern Region Four other schools had already benefited from such project, which is to promote the teaching and learning of Information Communication Technology (ICT) and enhance school administration.
Mr Stephen Abenyo, Director of Savsign, who was speaking at a ceremony to hand over the laboratory, said each of the beneficiary schools was given seven new computers, a projector and printer.
He said the support forms part of an initiative dubbed “Integration of ICT's in Education Project”, being implemented by Savsign with support from the Connect Consortium, a Netherlands based NGO.
Mr Abenyo said 10 teachers from each of the five schools, had been taken through a six-month training in ICT.
He appealed to school authorities to mainatain the facility and to ensure that students benefit from the initiative.
Ms Mariama Mahama, a representative of the Northern Regional Anglican Education Unit, said the project would help facilitate the collection, management and digitising students' academic records and continuing assessment.
She thanked Savsign and its partners for the support, and called on parents to be interested in the wellbeing of their children.

Source: GNA

Wednesday, May 23, 2012


C4C Cross-Country Learning Event: ICT for Education

Improving the quality and equity of Education through integrating ICT

May 22nd - May 26th 2012, Yapacaní, Bolivia

A Cross-Country Learning Event (CCLE) brings together persons who are designing, implementing and working with ICT to enhance education in different countries, and forms a perfect opportunity for exchanging experiences, learning, and adding value to practices in this field.

The general goal of the 2012 Cross-Country Learning Event in Bolivia is to build on the concepts and projects generated in order to inform and inspire each other. This is expected to be achieved by facilitating the sharing of knowledge and implementation experiences on using ICTs to enhance the availability, accessibility and delivery of good quality education. 

The specific objectives of the workshop are:

1.    Active learning on what works and what doesn’t in using ICTs to enhance the quality of education
2.    Sharing of innovative ideas and peer advice, and identification of good practices
3.    Linking and networking among individuals, projects and organisations working in this field
4.    Building on participants’ experiences to inform C4C´s practice and programmes

DAY 1 – Monday 21st May 2012

Day 1 started with breakfast together and some informal introduction and welcome by Team from CEPAC.

We did a tour of Santa Cruz and it was lovely to move with Cecilia, our translator. She is so full of energy and fun to be with. 

We ended up with Lunch at Casa Tipica del Camba where we were treated to some traditional Bolivian dishes.

It was also birthday time for Liesbeth of IICD. Staff of Casa Tipica del Camba surprised her with a cake and candle alongside a happy birthday song. 

After lunch, we continued with the sightseeing of the city of Santa Cruz. This took us till about 4.30 where we embarked on the journey to Amboro Eco Resort in Yapaccani, where the workshop will be taking place.

Just when thought we had had enough, we were ushered in to the Eco Resort with yet another package – traditional music and dance!


Day 2, Tuesday, Amboro Eco resort.

The official opening of the CCLE in Bolivia started with an address from Widen Abastoflor Sauma the Director of CEPAC.  He was glad that all participants were able to make it and hopes to share CEPAC’s experiences with the use of ICTs in Bolivia with the rest of the participants.

He mentioned that at CEPAC, they initially were worried over technological infrastructure but after they got the Infrastructure, their need changed and they started thinking of the content. He stated that the lesson learnt is that the power to learn is within the human being.

He further stated that sustainability is very crucial in all projects and that CEPAC has taken on the responsibility to measure their work after three years of ICTs in Education.

Liesbert Hofs of IICD mentioned that for all of us, Education holds a special place in our hearts and hopes that this platform will offer us the opportunity to learn and share from each other. She gave a presentation on the CCLE process.

Hendrien Maat of Edukans mentioned that the purpose of the CCLE is about ICTs and Education and appreciates the opportunity to work with IICD. She mentioned that Edukans has worked many years in education but ICT is now a new component. She emphasised that though the platform is about ICTs, it is also about how to improve the quality of education and not ICTs for ICTs.

A representative from the Bolivian Ministry of Education stated that what we really need is to work together in a network. He wished all a fruitful learning and sharing process as well as stay in Bolivia.

The ‘real work’ started with the knowledge tree. 
We were grouped to discuss among ourselves areas we considered within our projects as talents. 
These skills were to be represented as leaves of the tree and then the areas we would like to further explore and to get deeper understanding and or to learn from others. These were to be represented as roots of the tree.

After these discussions, the various themes were categorised.

Next was a market place. The various projects put up a good market stand where other participants took turns to visit and to learn more about what others were doing.


Day 3, Wednesday

Today, we went onto the field to visit various projects. We were put into three groups. The first group was to visit projects that were involved in the Global Teenager Project while the second group visited the Cambio Con Obras school that is generating and digitising their own content. The third group visited the El Caramen school.
I was part of the team that visited Cambio Con Obras school that is generating and digitising their own content.

Some of the things i found striking about the school was the following
  • Special involvement of parents in the project
  • Integration of technology in the classroom
  • Dedication of teachers in preparing the materials
  • Sustainability due to parents' involvement
  • Systematic processes used to create the materials in the school by the teachers
Later in the evening, I led a team of highly qualified International volley ball players made up of Stephen of Ghana, James from Zambia, Joel from Uganda and Mary from CEPAC, Bolivia to convincingly beat the low rated team of local volleyball players led by Pablo of CEPAC, Gezahegn Lamessa Gemechu from Ethiopia and Roxanna from Bolivia

The day ended with some demos and presentation led by participants. I took participants through the iConnect-online platform for knowledge sharing.

Friday, September 30, 2011


Savana Signatures realises that the development and progress of education and the North in particular will be much swifter when the capacity building of the minds of the teachers becomes the fundamental resource.

It was in fulfillment of this dream that Savana Signatures in partnership with the Community Outreach programme of the Radboud University in the Netherlands organised a three week capacity building training programme on Basic ICT for 20 selected head teachers from Tamale the Metropolis. The Training was conducted at the Savana Signatures ICT Centre in Tamale.

The head teachers who had little to no experience at all with a computer were taken through, basic mouse movement, basic Typing Skills, basic ICT knowledge about hardware and software, Microsoft Office Word 2007 (Basic), Microsoft Office Excel 2007 (Basic), Microsoft Office PowerPoint 2007 (Basic) and the Internet use.

The three weeks training which was practically oriented gave the head teachers the opportunity to have a feel of how the incorporation of ICT into their school administration can improve upon teaching and learning and eventually translate into good academic performance of students. The trainees acknowledged that with Microsoft excel the computing of students’ marks and the balancing of school accounts will be much easier and more convenient. The heads were also impressed by the fact that with the internet they could have access to a pool of knowledge at virtually no cost while at the same time saving time and energy.

Most of the teachers in their testimonies said that the three weeks has demystified the computer for them because hitherto, they saw the computer as a complex and expensive machine that can not be handled by anybody except an expert. They however urged Savsign to, in the future, extend the duration of the training to four weeks or more to enable them catch up.

At the end of the training, participants were awarded certificates and a manual containing the training materials and some exercises. The Director for Savana Signatures, Mr. John Stephen Agbenyo, thanked the teachers for the commitment throughout the course and admonished them to continue to build their capacities in ICT as a way of improving their lot and that of their schools. Mr. Agbenyo also used the occasion to thank the Tamale Metropolitan Education office for their support in providing the teachers for the training and did not forget to thank the trainers, Robbin Janssen and Iris van Kesteren for their patience in taking the teachers through the training and for helping SavSign to achieve one of its core objectives of building the capacities of stakeholders in education.

The trainers, Robbin Janssen and Iris van Kesteren, from the Radboud University, on their part were very thrilled about the progress that was made by the heads within the three weeks of training and urged them not to rest on the knowledge they had acquired but to constantly put it into practice by using it in their schools as a way of keeping track of the knowledge.

The following video link sums up the above report

Thursday, September 29, 2011

NGO slams gov'ts one laptop per child policy

A Non Governmental Organization, Savannah Signatures, promoting the study of Information and Communication Technology in Northern Ghana has disapproved of government’s one child per laptop policy.

Mr. Steven Agbenyo, Executive Director of the Savannah Signatures advised government to focus on providing the needed infrastructure in basic schools to facilitate the study of ICT rather than trying to “Waste” resources on acquiring laptops for distribution to school pupils.

Steven Agbenyo’s criticism came in support of a similar assertion made by Dr. Kwadwo Adjei Tutu, a senior Lecturer at the Economics Department of the University of Ghana who described the one child per laptop policy as “Bogus and a misplaced priority”.

The lecturer at a press conference on Monday September 1, was emphatic that the Mills-Mahama led NDC administration could be charged for causing financial loss to the state with the distribution of 6,000 laptops to pupil’s, when the same resources could be used to provide libraries, books and proper supervision for pupils.

Steven Agbenyo who added his voice to the brouhaha surrounding the one child per laptop policy in an exclusive interview with Citi News questioned the rationale behind making the study of ICT an examinable subject at the Junior High School level when there were no resources to support the course.

The Savannah Signatures Executive Director raised these concerns on the sidelines at a day’s stakeholder workshop on the use of ICT’s in managing patient’s data for an effective health delivery system in Ghana.

Steven Agbenyo maintained that the scale of priority on the one laptop per child had been misplaced because government failed to conduct proper feasibility studies before implementing the policy.

According to the Savannah Signatures Executive Director, there are schools in the heart of the Tamale metropolis (names withheld) that cannot boast of a single computer and its accessories.

He added that the region lacked teachers to handle the ICT subject in many schools that do not have access to electricity.

On the way forward, Mr. Steven Agbenyo advised the Ministry of Education to put on hold the initiative of making the ICT subject examinable at the Junior High School level and ensure the fair distribution of ICT logistics to all schools nationwide.

Mr. Hassan Hamidu, Upper East regional ICT Coordinator from the National Health Insurance Authority stressed the need for the NHIS to play a key role in implementing the use of ICT in data collection at the various health institutions nationwide.

He emphasized that ICT education should be made mandatory to all health professionals whose services are indispensable in nation building.

Mr. Hassan Hamidu therefore impressed upon health professionals particularly Doctors to go beyond folders and automate patients’ data to ensure quick recovery when necessary.

Savannah Signatures in collaboration with the Ghana Information Network for Knowledge Sharing (GINKS) is promoting the study of ICT in the three regions of the north.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


The maiden edition of the ICT4D forum for the 2011 year came off on Thursday 26th February, 2011 at the Northern regional library. In attendance were members from the Female ICT Teachers Association (FICTTA), Ghana Library Board’s ITAP members, invited youth and the general public.

Opening the forum, the Team leader of Savana Signatures, Mr. John Stephen Agbenyo welcomed participants to the new venue for the ICT4D forum and commended members for their attendance and the contribution to the forum since its inception in the region.

He informed the participants that the forum was a monthly one organized by Savana Signatures on behalf of GINKS.

He went on to explain the activities of the two organizations and called on members to patronize the forum and to invite their friends for subsequent forums.
Mr. John Stephen Agbenyo explain that, the choice of the topic for the forum was as a result of the fact that, most youth in the last general elections were actively involved in electoral violence, thus the need for this forum to provide a platform to educate the youth.
Speaking on the topic, “The role of ICTs in preventing electoral violence”, Mr. Dominic Dery, a lecturer at the Tamale Polytechnic and a former District Electoral Officer of the Saboba District explained that electoral violence included the use of force by political parties or their supporters to intimidate opponents and threats to a democratic regime.

He added that, in some instances, violence is used to intimidate opponents in order to force them not to dare openly and freely express their choices of candidates; whilst in others, violence is manifested in the rigging of elections.
Mr. Dery opined that to ensure violent free and democratic elections, the election must be free, fair and transparent.

He indicated that ICT can promote the credibility of election results, and that it was high time Ghana, as a country

considers mainstreaming ICT fully into our electoral system. He indicated that one sure way ICT could promote election free violence in the near future in Ghana is through the introduction of the biometric register which will help to avoid multiple registrations and voting. He added that ICTs could contribute to the quick declaration of election results; thereby reducing the tension associated with delayed results and will eventually enhance the democratic process of Ghana.

The speaker went on to emphasize that ICT will enable the electorates to be regularly informed and kept abreast of all the activities surrounding the conduct of elections, thereby saving the people from unnecessary rumor and lies which can derail the peaceful atmosphere in the country. Mr. Dery was however quick to add that an irresponsible person or group of persons can use technology (ICT) to cause election violence as it occurred in Rwanda some years past.

He bemoaned the situations where media houses characterized by facilitating communication, information sharing, interoperability, user-centered design and collaboration on the World Wide Web. He stated that web 2.0 has Programs and services that allow new ways of using the internet which include allowing users to contribute content, edit WebPages, add comments, upload documents, images or videos and even add content to their personal websites.

He emphasised that web 2.0 is a much potential tool for rural development since it allows many people to share information and pictures, collaborate on documents such as reports, spreadsheets, and presentations and comment on activities.

He further identified income generation, advertising, free Online Training, increased access to relevant and up-to-date content, establishment of communities of Practice as well as remote collaboration and Networking as the other benefits of using google applications.(both the print and electronic) in Ghana tried to call results

of election in favour of their affiliated parties. Such an act can be a recipe for chaos and must be guarded against.
In his concluding remarks, Mr. Dominic Dery stated that the most important watch word during elections is vigilance on the part of everybody. “People must be vigilant so as to prevent attempts at changing the decision of the electorates” he said.

The Northern Regional Librarian, Mr. Aaron Kuwuono, expressed his joy and satisfaction

at the discussion that took place and urged participants to patronize the library as it is a place where the general public could source information. He added that he was happy that the Library has this partnership with GINKS and Savana Signatures to organize the monthly ICT4D Forum at the Library.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

FICTTA elects new executives

Having identified the low female participation in ICTs, Savana Signatures (SavSign), an NGO that works in the area of mainstreaming ICT into education has come out with several strategies to improve upon female participation in ICTs. One of such strategies is the formation of the female ICT Teachers Association (FICTTA).

Membership to the assocation is free and is open to all female Teachers who wish to be trained to integrate ICT into teaching and learning.

The association on Friday the 28th January, 2011 successfully elected its leadership. While Mrs. Angela Boateng of Kamina Junior High School was elected President, Miss Theresa Adabugar of Northern School of Business Senior High School was elected Vice President. Miss Flavia Kwara Nonati of Tampe Kuokuo R/C Primary was elected Organiser and Miss Helen Dabo of St. Charles Senior High School was elected as Secretary of the Association.

Members of the association on Monday started their ICT capacity building program at the SavSign ICT training center. Apart from being taken through the use of computers, they would also be mentored on practical ways by which they will integrate ICT into their teaching and learning in the class room. Each teacher would also be trained to design and deliver lessons in their schools using a laptop and a projector.