Information Communication Technology (ICT) has become the most influential, dependable and cost effective means of enhancing corporate and organizational development across the globe. Its use and impact has become so imperative that no meaningful development could take place minus this simple but complex tool.
The United Nations in 2013 in a statement to mark the International Day of Girls in ICT, noted that 95 percent of current global jobs were in the domain of ICT and therefore urged many girls across the world to get themselves involved in ICT to bridge the gender gap.
A quote from Hamadoun Toure, Secretary General of International Telecommunication Union (ITU) said "We need to get more girls involved in information and communication technology" in order to address the imbalance in the technology sector. In Sweden, about 91 percent of its population uses ICT and more importantly, it prevents and aids crime fighting even in rural communities.
Our country has made appropriate policy intervention through the Ghana Education Service where ICT has been incorporated to our educational system and even making ICT examinable subject at the Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE).
The policy was aimed at ensuring that every Ghanaian student must have adequate knowledge and usage of the ICT device. In furtherance to the policy the Government since 2008 through RLG started distributing laptops to pupil dubbed one laptop per child project. However laudable the project was, it has become a bale shadow of itself because many of the pupil who received the laptops cannot boast of it defeating the objective of the project.
ICT is the new revolution of this century and it is envisaged to spur growth and development across the globe. To this end, the impact and goal of the Savana Signatures, a non-governmental organization (NGO) to use the new revolution to effect change and development among rural communities in the Northern Region is quite innovative to improve quality education in rural parts of Ghana. The NGO is into education, maternal mortality reduction and empowering young girls all of which ICT innovations is being used to deliver the goods.
On education, Savana Signatures recently presented ten primary and Junior High Schools in the Savelugu/Nanton Municipality with a total of 110 desktop computers, ten laptops and 20 projectors to enhance Information Communication Technology (ICT) teaching and learning in those schools.
The donation forms part of the Integration of ICT in Education project, which the organization had been undertaking over the years aimed at contributing to quality education in the area. Teachers in beneficiary schools are currently introducing ICT pedagogy to the countries educational system.
Mr John Stephen Agbenyo, Executive Director of Savana Signatures explained that the idea of presenting the computers was to make teachers plan their lesson notes with the use of ICT tools as well as using ICT skills with the aid of the accessories to teach pupils creating innovation. It is expected that the facilities if properly utilized, would increase students' academic performance especially in the Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) and deepen ICT knowledge among the students.
Most importantly, ICT laboratories had already been installed in the beneficiary schools connected to the internet to make research easy for the pupils and their teachers. Besides, ten teachers from each of the beneficiary schools had been trained to be able to efficiently use the facilities thus making and learning easy ad interesting.
Mr Agbenyo explained that the project was in conformity with the national policy of educating pupils using ICT stressing that "Quality of teaching and learning outcomes will be enhanced using ICT".
Mr Agbenyo indicated that aside Integration of ICT in Education project, the NGO was also implementing youth empowerment, gender and social inclusion and sexual reproductive rights projects with almost all the projects yielding positive results.
Additionally, ICT clinics are organized annually where the youth are camped for ten days and educated on ICT topics and other general moral talks are to broaden and develop the mental, physical and holistic growth of the youth.
In an attempt to breach the gender gap in ICT industry, Savana Signatures organizes periodic ICT lessons for female pupils in some primary and Junior High Schools and formed clubs in those schools termed 'Tech Girls' Club'. Annually, these girls are given the opportunity to join colleagues worldwide to participate in international ICT Day for Girls. It was not only opportunity for the girls to learn but to interact with various role models to serve as motivation for them to aspire for higher laurels.
Further to the leading example of the young NGO which just celebrated its fifth anniversary, its Tech Girls' Clubs brings many girls together once a week to be taught on various ICT topics including introducing them to the use of digital tools for online media, developing and designing of websites, excel, power points among others . Five out of the few trained ones have started developing various projects to improve development in their communities through ICT.
What is quite impressive about this NGO is the introduction of ICT into healthcare delivery through which it is making enrolls in reducing maternal mortality in four district of the Northern Region. Pregnant women who are registered on the network are alerted through voice and sms messages on pregnancy care until delivery. The women are also educated during antenatal attendance where projectors showcase videos and documentaries on pregnancy care which attracts the attention of the women as they were being attended to by midwives.
Dr Kwasi Twumasi, Northern Regional Director of the Ghana Health Service attested to the fact that the introduction of the technology to maternal health had contributed significantly to public health education and made the work of midwives easier and suggested to the Ghana Health Service to adopt the novelty into healthcare delivery across the country.
Expressing delight of the good works of the NGO Mr Issaka Braimah Basintale, Municipal Coordinating Director of Savelugu/Nanton expressed the hope that per the good works of the NGO, it was contributing to the responsibility of the government and lauded the efforts. He indicated that even though the Government through the Ministry of Environment, Science and Technology and the Ministry of Education have been distributing computers and laptops to schools and pupils, more needed to be done since there were inadequate.
Mr Alhassan Mustapha, Assistant Director of Education in Charge of Supervision at Ghana Education Service praised novelty of Savana Signatures explaining that it was fulfilling the roles of the GES and promised to ensure that circuit supervisions inculcated the innovation into their monitoring and supervision.
What is most unfortunate is that Government's ICT in education policies had lost focus as Alhaji Mahama Baba, Central Gonja District Director of Education expressing worry that many pupils still write ICT at the BECE level without seeing or touching a computer. Many districts like the Central Gonja equally faces similar problems and where the computers have been provided, pupils do not get full advantage of utilizing it. Government can lend support to this NGO and other equally good entities to collaborate with the Government to implement its ICT policy in education.
ICT is not wholly positive if not properly guided. It is noted to have diverted the attention of staff of various institutions with the explanation that some of that use working hours to browse and check personal mails and visit social network pages. Additionally, ICT is being used to perpetrate crimes in some countries including Ghana popularly referred to as 'sakawa'. This internet fraud has denied many people of millions of dollars to some recalcitrant persons.