Ghana Adopts E-learning Initiative for Students amid Closure of Schools
In a bid to ensure that students of Junior and Senior High Schools in Ghana especially those in Form One and Two do not sit home idle in the wake of the closure of Schools following directives by government to contain and prevent coronavirus, an alternative e-learning platform has been put out to facilitate teaching and learning and to get the students home busy.
President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo in a televised address to about 30 million Ghanaians on March 15, updating them on measures being taken by the government to fight the virus, directed that all public gatherings including conferences, workshops, funerals, festivals, political rallies, sporting events, and religious events to be suspended for four weeks.
He also ordered the closure of all educational institutions, both public and private, until further notice, starting from Monday, March 16, 2020, tasking the Education and Communication Ministries to roll out distance learning protocols for the schools.
However, Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) and the West Africa Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) candidates have been allowed to attend school to prepare for their examinations with the observance of the prescribed social distancing protocols.
The West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) for school candidates which were to commence on March 30, 2020 and end on June 12, 2020 has been cancelled while the fate of 2020 Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) expected to begin on Monday, June 15, 2020, and end on Friday, June 19, 2020.
As part of the e-learning initiative, the students will have the opportunity to take prescribed subjects by the Ghana Education Service including Mathematics, English, Science Social Studies and French for free in the comfort of their homes.
This opportunity opened to all Ghanaian students, is being made possible jointly by Vivo Energy Ghana, the African Business Centre for Developing Education (ABCDE) and eCampus Ghana, according to Mr. Clifford Tetteh, the National Co-ordinator of ABCDE,
Disclosing this to Ghana News Agency on March 18, he explained that the platform had been designed in an interactive manner and enable students to test against various benchmarks and obtain instant results as well as serve as guidance for self-improvement.
He said for a student to get connected, they would need to download the eCampus Application at http://eCampus.com.gh, sign up with referral code VIVOABCDE and then search for SHS and subscribe.
Mr. Tetteh said the move was also part of the efforts to promote Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics among students especially females to train many in those fields. He said the application contains the syllabus being used in schools and served as a very useful tool in ensuring that the process of learning was not interrupted while at home.
The Executive Director of ABCDE, Dr. Ekow Spio-Garbrah, expressed optimism that the e-learning platform would offer an alternative learning opportunity to students while helping to ensure that students put their time to good use.
Meanwhile, following the global threat of the Coronavirus, the International Community School (ICS) in Ghana began an advanced preparation for various exigencies ahead of the state-mandated closure of schools, which gave exceptions for examination candidates.
Information on the Schools website icsghana.org seen by newswatchgh.com indicates that “on Friday (March 13), messages were sent out to parents on what learning will be like should school shut down ahead of the scheduled end of term 2. Teachers and support staff then began preparations for online learning.”
“On the heels of the announcement of 6 (now 9) recorded cases of Covid-19, the school sent home all non-candidates, in spite of strict enforcement of our contagious disease prevention protocols,” the notice stated, adding that “staff strength was reduced to only essential in order to reduce the number of persons coming into our campuses daily.”
The message further stated that “Years 6 and 9 who are due to write their Cambridge Checkpoint exams in April, Year 11 who will be writing IGCSE and Upper 6 students preparing for A’ Level examinations remain on campus until March 27 when term 2 ends.”
While efforts have been made to engage students at home in e-learning due to the directive to suspend Schools for four weeks in Ghana, the President of the National Association of Graduate Teachers (NAGRAT), Angel Carbonu has hinted that most teachers in the West African country will find it difficult to conduct online education due to ‘illiteracy’ in Information Technology (IT).
President Akufo-Addo delivering an address on Covid-19 on March 15 said “All Universities, Senior High Schools, and basic schools, i.e. public and private schools, will be closed Monday, 16th March 2020, till further notice. The Ministry of Education, in collaboration with the Ministry of Communication, has been tasked to roll out distance learning programmes.”
This directive has been followed duly by all institutions from the basic to the tertiary but Carbonu, very outspoken leader of NAGRAT, believes that “most teachers lack the requisite knowledge in the field of IT to use the online platforms to teach.”
“I was at a meeting with the Director-General of the Ghana Education Service and his officials. They indicated to me that a website has been developed where the subject areas will be placed there so that students can access them. Again there is a crisis in the nation and all of us will have to come together and find a solution, the Television stations need to get programmes that can educate the children at home, he said in an interview on a local Radio March 19.
He stressed that “I can assure you that a lot of teachers will be challenged in the use of IT in teaching in this country. Even though I am the President of NAGRAT, I will struggle, it is about time teachers come together and take this lesson seriously.