PROJECT UPDATE #15

by | 19th November 2021 | Ghana, Methodology, Project Update

Reflections from the field 

Introduction  

After several months of waiting, the much-anticipated survey in schools was deployed in October. Given Selena’s passion for fieldwork, we planned her visit to Ghana to coincide with the commencement of data collection in selected schools across the Central region. We ensured that, apart from our ethical clearance, we obtained the required permissions both at the district education offices and at the school management levels to conduct the survey in schools. The one-month long data collection began on Wednesday, October 13, 2021, in the Komenda Edina Eguafo Abrem (KEEA) municipal. Data were subsequently collected in the Cape Coast Metropolitan Assembly and ended at Ekumfi district. We had to work extra hard to complete the survey before the week of November 15, 2021, because schools were preparing their basic nine (B.S 9) students to participate in a qualifying examination (i.e. Basic Education Certificate Examination-BECE) and that is a great deal. The performance of a student in this exam will influence which grade (A, B, C, or D) of secondary school one attends.

Interestingly, one of the papers to be written is ICT which will seek to test the knowledge of students in the use of ICT. Even though the paper is not practice-based, procedural knowledge obtained from practice will be an asset to students. For such a group of students who have never touched a computer and yet will have to be assessed we truly wish you well. This should remind us to work together in making society more equitable. The fundamentals must be right, and every child should have the basic resources to develop their full potential. This is how we can develop together.

Back to the Survey 

In the end, we were able to deploy the survey in 24 schools across the selected districts. As reported by Selena in her October project update, we came across schools with no classroom infrastructure. In such environments, ICT infrastructure is perceived as a luxury even though it is a necessity. Our engagement with students, teachers, and heads of the surveyed schools pointed to one thing: the lack of basic ICT infrastructure and other teaching and learning materials (TLMs) for instruction purposes. Despite this challenge, we found evidence in the schools on how teachers were improvising to make teaching and learning fun for their students.

In a few schools, however, we were encouraged to see basic ICT infrastructure where students can practice and have hands-on experience in the use of computers. Even for the schools that had functioning computer labs, WiFi connectivity was non-existent. The experiences leave us with more questions than answers regarding how to efficiently deploy emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence in education in such contexts. In hindsight, we are also of the conviction that some students may not be complete novices in the digital technology space. In fact, I have a personal conviction that some of the students have advanced knowledge in the use of digital technologies outside the school environment.

The Ghana Education Service (GES), the agency responsible for regulatory and supervision in Ghana’s basic schools has a policy that prohibits students from going to school with mobile phones. This means, if a school does not have a computer lab with internet connectivity, students have no chance of surfing the internet or making simple searches while in school.  Teachers may however be able to use their personal mobile phones to get additional online resources to facilitate teaching. We look forward to engaging with the data to establish what students and teachers can do with the different digital devices available to them at home or in another location (if any).

 Next steps 

As a result of the lack of ICT and WiFi infrastructure in schools, we had to resort to paper-based surveys. Now that the survey is over, our next steps will be to begin to enter data into the Jisc Online portal to facilitate data analysis. This will likely take us to the end of the year. We will keep you informed of the progress that we make.

 Appreciation 

At this point, it will be appropriate to extend my appreciation to the district officials and heads of the selected schools for their support and for making sure the survey was deployed successfully. Special thanks to Abena and Robert from the KEEA Municipal Education office for leading us to all the schools within their district.

Dr Hayford Mensah Ayerakwa

Dr Hayford Mensah Ayerakwa

Author

Dr Hayford Mensah Ayerakwa is a postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Institute of Education, University College London. Hayford’s research focuses on digital technologies in education, social and economic impact assessments of P3 interventions on education delivery, production and consumption of educational technologies, and the intersections between technology adoption, willingness to pay and learning outcomes, happiness, and other educational welfare indicators. His past work includes research on inclusion education, newly qualified teachers’ teaching experiences, rural-urban food linkages and multi-spatial livelihoods, happiness, and impact assessment.

0 Comments

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recent Posts

Subscribe to Notifications

Send us your email details and we will let you know when a new post is published.


Share This