Ghana Game Changers — Part 3: Meetings with stakeholders & Work on iTeach
Day #8: Meetings with the Metro Director of Accra, the Director of Ghana Education Service and teachers from “Boso”
Back to a working mood, we got up early with a lot of excitements to meet important stakeholders. First one of a long day was Mr. Kwesi Hutchful, the Metro (District) director of Accra. We had a warm welcome from him and discussed current challenges about students. English seems to be a real challenge since most of them speak their local language (Twi, “Ga”..). One of his recommendations to improve ICT awareness was to get hands-on. We have learnt that the Metro director receives equipments from Ghana Education Service which are audited.
Another guest was present to get information about refurbished devices: costs, laptops, projectors, screens, window licences.. She works for a Belgium NGO called “Close the Gap” that gets devices donated by banks, institutions, companies etc and is in charge of refurbishing them.
On our way to meet the Director of Basic Education Service, we reviewed our list of questions to order them by priority. Ghana Education Service is part of the Ministry of Education and is in charge of the 1st level to Senior High School for public and private sectors. We met Cynthia Bosomtwi, Director of Basic Education Service and we asked her what the basic necessities are to foster ICT in education. She anwered 2 main things:
- Understand ICT and its benefits
- Integrate ICT into various subjects
Back on the road, we went to the Volta Region to interact with teachers from “Boso”, very close to Dodi town located near the lake. A few hours later, guess what showed up: the famous bridge to cross over the lake.. Actually, we crossed it more or less 15 hours ago on our way back from the waterfalls, that was very funny to see this bridge again :).
Children were wrapping up for the day and showing a lots of excitement seeing us. The head of teachers and Francis talked to them and presented us. Children were having big smiles and eyes. Most of them had not seen any white people in their life. By the way, white people are called “O’Brownie” (the spelling is most likely wrong but it sounds like I wrote it ahah). Children sang in front of us and that moment was extremely emotional I will never forget. Sahar got a huge success with children, girls actually :).
On our way back to the hotel, we collected what we had learnt from teachers and impressions. There are serious challenges to consider: lack of computers, no electricity for certain villages, no internet because they can’t afford it, equipment maintenance… MTN offered Internet for 1 year and now teachers have to pay the bill to keep having access…
We stopped for lunch near the lake at 4.30pm (late lunch^^). That was very nice ! We used the selfie stick to have a group picture. Sahar is now used to hold the selfie stick ;) ! We tasted another local ghanaian meal: Banku. This food is eaten with grilled/fried fish and something like Salsa OR some okra soup (looks slimy).
Our lunch was very good and since it became darker, we took the road again. I felt very tired and all those bumps did not help me to be in a good shape. Imagine your eyes are closed, you are about to fall asleep and you take a big bump at 100 km/h .. You jump off your seat !!! We had a roller coaster ride back to the capital: the driver was driving very fast and making high pressure on other vehicles (klaxon, lights full on …) :)
Day #9: Meeting with MTM Foundation, open discussion with the CEO of DreamOval and debrief on ACW
Our day started with a meeting with MTN, the largest Telecom company in Africa. Our goal was to partner with them in order to promote the Africa Code Week to children. We asked for their support to make an impact and achieve the target number of pupils (50 000). We should definitely follow-up with them for the next years as next week for ACW is very challenging to get their support.
We drove to the office and met Derrydean Dadzie, the CEO of DreamOval. He is a very engaged and committed person. I really enjoyed hearing his passion about making a tangible impact for the society of Ghana. I would also like to outline a true fact that none of the multinational/innovative companies (like Google, SAP, IBM) have been created by 1 single person, it has always been created by a few persons. Once again, I found out another concrete examples: DreamOval has already managed to succeed, and it has been created by 5 co-founders
Then, we reviewed the Social Media content to empower the ACW for Ghanians, the continent as well as the world wide.
Day #10: The Ashesi University on the hills
We went up to the hills in the north of Accra to visit the Ashesi University where the iTeach training for teachers takes place once a year in August. On our way, the gear level had a problem while we’re having the red light at a junction: it was impossible to move forward, the car was moving backwards ahah so funny ! The driver behind us was getting crazy and got out of his car. We finally pushed the car to the route on our right with 2 police officers who are more or less dressed like soldiers ^^.
We managed to drive till the Ashesi University. The buildings were gorgeous, very clean and surrounded by green gardens. and fountains.
We met Araba Botchway, the Director of Admission who gave us a bit of context and explanations with a strong engagement. The Ashesi university trains local as well as international students in engineering, computing, science, electronic… 28 students were taken when they created the university 14 years ago, and they are about 800 students now. The university embraces diversity through 3 areas:
- geographical: 24 countries are represented
- exchange programs to immerse students into a different culture
- gender: 48% are female. They try to balance it
The director highlighted the importance of students’ involvement. There are a lots of clubs around music, religion, culture etc and French lessons were introduced lately as Ghana is surrounded by francophone countries. She said that this university is a place of many beginnings”. We found out that the co-founders of DreamOval company had studied in this university !
Then we talked about the main objective of our visit: iTeach training that takes place here. We asked questions to know how this training is supported in terms of accommodation, feeding, materials etc. basically, the university offers their 2 computer labs of 30 laptops each to support the iTeach training for 1 week during summer time. The main challenge for DreamOval to train more teachers is facilities. The university has certain policy conditions that prevents iTeach program from doing more trainings, like the fact that adults and students can’t be accommodated at the same time.
We ended our visit with a guided tour of the University: library, classes, labs (electronics, science, computing,…) and accommodations.
We had a meeting with a project manager from German company called GIZ. His role is to engage private companies into society and economic development. He shared with us a project that could fit with SAP and an existing project that shows that investing a small amount of money can lead to economy growth and development.
Day #11: Meeting with the Vice President’s wife
We have been very well-received by the Vice President’s wife. We introduced SAP, the social sabbatical as well as our mission here in Ghana. We gave her a little box with some presents to thank her. She gave us 3 Ghanaian tissues to make shirts ! A short stop in a palace hotel to align on our activities and schedule.
We had the whole afternoon to dig into the iTeach program and find approaches. We really moved forward !
Friday Evening: I tried the Palm Wine in a coconut :). The taste is not disgusting but not so good neither, it’s orignal ahah
Day #12: NO MEETING :)
Our Friday was fully dedicated to work in the hotel. Andreas, Sahar and I worked separately on different things: online courses, iTeach content, impact measurement of iTeach program etc… That day was intense and good to have. At then end of the day, our 4 subteams met up in the conference room to share our status, main challenges and ask for assistance, ideas, feedback etc.. Very helpful to collect other perspectives !!!
Day is over, Friday night is now ahead of us.. #whataboutyou :)