They may have no electricity, good roads and other infrastructure as well as facilities for effective teaching and learning. River blindness that afflicted residents of Asuboi, has now received attention with intervention from stakeholders, following media reports on the infection.
Despite the challenges, authorities of local schools in the farming community in the Offinso Municipality of Ashanti Region remain unperturbed in their resolve to improve standards in the area.
In the face of scarce resources, teachers are collaborating with Parent Teacher Associations to make Information and Communication Technology accessible to children.
As a first step, the PTA has purchased a power generator to facilitate the ICT project.
Asuboi came to lime light when majority of residents infact, 70 per cent of the about 2500 population had contracted river blindness.
The town, located deep in the Abofuor Forest has never enjoyed electricity from the national grid.
But school authorities are however looking beyond their location and developmental challenges. Schools in the community have since 2007 been learning ICT as a subject though students have never seen nor touched a computer before.
Under the Ghana ICT Accelerated Development Policy initiated in 2003, schools are required to use computers as ultimate learning tool.
Rev. Emmanuel Dadebo, the Unit Coordinator at the ICT in Education Programme at the Ministry of Education says students throughout the country are to be trained on how to use internet to assess and analyze information.
“It’s not just the learning of ICT as a subject, but the second dimension which is also very, very key and ultimate is that ICT tools are suppose to be used as tools for learning. So whilst they are also learning ICT as a subject, it is also expected that teachers will integrate technology in the teaching -learning process”, he said.
But authorities at Asuboi Primary and Junior High Schools are worried students in those deprived schools have to write the same exams with their counterparts in well endowed schools.
My experience in one of the primary school classrooms I visited lends credence to concerns of the teachers. The Primary six pupils appeared to be at a lost as they listened to their busy ICT teacher who was taking them through the functions and uses of a computer.
So what is a computer? The question silenced the whole class until a female pupil tried to rescue her colleagues with some answers.
But you can’t begrudge them because none of them has seen nor touched a computer before.
The Class teacher, Kwaku Noah told me in the absence of a computer laboratory, teachers and pupils go through difficulty during ICT classes.
“With the teaching of ICT, for the theory part, they are coping and then I’m sure that when they get to where they may get access to computer, they can also learn the practical aspect of it. By knowing the theory part, they would be able to work with it”.
One of the 14 pillars of the Ghana ICT for Accelerated Policy is to introduce computers into all primary, senior high, vocational and technical schools.
The country is at the third stage in the roll out of the policy which aims at transforming Ghana into knowledge-driven ICT literate nation.
But unfortunately, many schools at all levels still don’t have computers to facilitate ICT education.
Though the policy prioritizes the promotion of ICT education, pupils in less endowed schools like Asuboi can only hope for a miracle to change their fate.
The Ministry of Education says there are many obstacles in reaching out to schools in communities like Asuboi.
“The schools are so many and like you went to Asuboi that is splendid. There are other places where we have worse conditions” says Reverend Dadeboh.
According to him financial constraints are hindering efforts in reaching out to all schools. “The point is that, because we don’t have enough money, government is actually making efforts from budgetary sources to be able to provide these things”.
In the midst of such difficulties, the local PTA of Asuboi Primary and Junior High Schools is levying each pupil 1 Ghana cedis per term for the purchase of computer and generator.
Though it looks like a difficult task especially in the absence of electricity, head teacher of the Asuboi M/A Primary School, Emmanuel Nyamekye courageously defended the move.
“Since in the BECE they (pupils) are examined in that particular subject(ICT), and if we do not start now, I’m sure the children will go and fail the exams woefully”.
According to him, it is time to introduce school children to computers.
“How can you move with the world if you do not have knowledge in ICT, infact you will lag behind so that is why we thought it wise that we give them knowledge in ICT so that they can move with current trend of modernization and civilization”, he explained.
Whilst commending authorities at Asuboi for the bold initiative, Rev Dadebo calls for similar initiatives in other schools.