The Friends of Yamoransa and Helping Africa Foundation, both non-profit organisations in the USA, have provided a model 48-seater computer laboratory for the people of Betenase in the Ejura/Sekyedumase Municipality of the Ashanti Region.
The lab, dubbed ‘Yamoransa Model Lab-3 Project’, which is set-up to enhance the teaching and learning of Information and Communication Technology (ICT), English, Mathematics and Science, also has a 4-seater Community Business Centre.
The facilities would be used by over 8,000 school children in Sekyedumase and six other schools in surrounding communities.
The other communities are Apaaso, Ayinaso, Drobon, Frante and Juaho.
It was established in response to a social media post shared by Mr. Richard Akoto Appiah, a teacher of the Betenase M. A. School, exhibiting his teaching efforts in ICT despite the challenges.
Mr. Appiah’s social media post, which attracted global attention, showed a detailed drawing of Microsoft Word on a blackboard, which he was using to teach his students.
The effort exhibited by him indicated his passion for teaching and immense creativity to provide vital knowledge to his students, even with the simple means available to him at the time.
Dr. Deborah Rose, the President of Friends of Yamoransa, and Daniel Rose, Founder of Helping Africa Foundation, in showing their love for Computer Literacy Programmes initiated and coordinated the funding for the project to enhance the teaching and learning of ICT.
Dr. Rose in her address said the effort of setting-up these Model Labs began with a mandate by the Ministry of Education, Ghana, to educate young people in the emerging fields of ICT, even when the technology itself was not yet widely distributed.
She revealed that in April this year, a young member of their team alerted her to a viral posting about Mr. Appiah, a teacher in Betenase who was using a detailed drawing of Microsoft on blackboard to teach computing.
This she said, coupled with her love for computer literacy, touched her heart hence the setting-up of this Model Lab which is not just about computers, but education in the broader sense.
“In the United States, our educational philosophy embraces what we call general liberal arts education, encompassing the humanities, the social and natural sciences, rather than strictly technical or pre-professional training. This, we believe, is the best preparation to become citizens of the world”.
She realized that their way of working fits well within the United Nations framework of the Sustainable Development Goals, and also satisfies several of its components that include asking communities to identify their greatest needs; doing a needs assessment; developing a proposal for installing appropriate technology; installation; training the teachers; teaching the students and evaluating the program.
“We also quickly realized the importance of including multiple generations in our process such as the elderly, working and young people.”
Mr. Japhet Ayiku, Executive Director of Helping Africa Foundation, believes the computer lab will help residents in the area to become proficient in computing and add to their skills in terms of preparing them for the job market.
According to him, the lab would not only benefit students in computing studies, but other subjects especially English, Science, and Mathematics.
“Mr. Ayiku said the systems sought to embrace the overall curriculum of Basic Education, covering all the subjects that the children need to learn”.
He said the Betanase Lab was the third in three areas namely Yamoransa, Mallam and Betenase in the Central, Greater Accra and Ashanti regions.
He noted that they intend to reach out to many more communities across the country, adding that, “we are interested in spreading “Rural Computing” throughout Ghana.
The Executive Director noted that many people across the globe had never heard of Betenase, but through Mr. Appiah’s social media post on the internet, it has created opportunities for the entire community.
Mr. Mohammed Salisu Bamba, Ejura/Sekyedumase Municipal Chief Executive thanked the two organisations for the kind gesture, as well as TECHAiDE for the installation.
He said the project will go a long way to benefit the entire municipality, and promised to ensure that the facility is used for its intended purpose and properly maintained.
Mr. Patrick Ofori, Ejura/Sekyedumase Municipal Director of Education, urged teachers to be innovative by emulating the exemplary role of Mr. Appiah, and called on them to creatively augment the limited resources provided by government.
He was thankful to TECHAiDE, a technology social enterprise for installing the robust and low voltage computers, educational software, e-resources including past questions on the ASANKA device, as well as the training provided for all the teachers in the six communities.
He appealed to government to take up the responsibility of setting up ICT laboratories in all basic schools to ensure that children are well introduced to technology and innovation.
The project is being managed by IMPLEMENTERS, a project management non-profit firm, with its technology partners; TECHAiDE, who have over 10 years’ experience in technology projects globally.