By Issa Sikiti da Silva, in Accra, Ghana
Ghana’s Open Learning Exchange (OLE) is introducing innovative teaching and learning models which it says involve the use of affordable technology tools to make learning more pleasurable, and improve universal literacy.
The tools include the Raspberry Pi server, which houses the OLE’s Basic eLearning Library (BeLL).
A Raspberry Pi is a small computer that uses an ARM 11 processor running at 700MHz with 512MB RAM, and it uses much less power than a PC, and takes up much less space.
OLE said the BeLL system, which is powered by the Raspberry Pi, is designed to work on and/or off the electric grid as well as the Internet.
This ensures that the most marginalised students in resource-limited areas have access to high quality learning resources.
Local experts and politicians believe technology is the ultimate solution to alleviate the country’s low literacy levels. Last year, former finance minister Dr Kwesi Botchwey called on students to take advantage of technology to enhance their knowledge.
OLE said the Ghana National BeLL network will be used to update each of the School BeLLs periodically with new resources.
A feedback functionality worked into the BeLL system will then send usage data (such as pupils and teacher comments and ratings of the effectiveness of the resources) to the Ghana BeLL, from where such data would be made available to educational authorities, curriculum developers, resources developers, among others.
This, OLE said, will provide unprecedented rich data that can help improve the effectiveness of the learning materials and strategies that are developed for achieving universal child literacy.
Most Ghana’s Grade 6 schoolchildren still cannot read or write properly even after five years of primary education, and the majority of Ghanaian adults’ handwriting is almost unreadable and their reading skills – in English – is very poor.
It is an alarming situation that prompted OLE Ghana to team up with World Vision Ghana to launch the Ghana Reads project.
OLE Ghana director Kofi Essien told the press that the Ghana Reads project, currently being piloted in 28 schools, is providing low-cost tablets, hand-held technologies to school children backed by effective pedagogy and teacher support strategies in order to increase access to high quality, interactive learning resources in the classroom.