Tuesday, 29 June 2010

ICT Forum 29th June 2010

Whilst out exploring on our third day in Walewale in October 2009, Mike and I had stumbled across the Community Information Centre. Inside we met Mahama Ramzie Mashood and there began a fabulous partnership which was to see Walewale wake up to ICT. Mashood shared with us how underused the facility was, particularly by local schools. We agreed there and then to come up with some ideas to improve the situation. The first ICT club started by the end of that month.
Over the next nine months we ran numerous clubs for students and training for local teachers and Education Office staff.
The ICT Forum was sponsored by a local NGO. The aim was to raise community awareness of what ICT has to offer and to explore some ways to tackle some of the inevitable challenges of teaching this subject in schools with no electricity.  It was a real team effort.  Anna and Lou had prepared for the discussion groups.

Mr Daniel , a local teacher, was the MC for the event and was excited that Ghana were now through to the quarter finals of the World Cup.

Mr Mark Akansighe, Manager of the CIC had made the banner to advertise the event. Members of the ICT Club had swept the ground and helped to erect the tents.

The children from the local primary school decided to join in.

Here the 33 original "ICT trainers" come together to perform the song composed for their certificate presentation ceremony in December 2009.

The ICT Club members had saved up to buy  Walewale ICT Club T shirts. The strong group identity had been reinforced by the excurison together last December. The students still have a really strong commitment to the club and to sharing their ICT skills.

After some initial speeches and introductions, the attendees split into groups to discuss the prepared questions.

Why is ICT important for you?

What are the main problems in delivering ICT in your school?

How might these problems be addressed?

Anna , Louisa with Mashood, one of the ICT trainers at the Community Information Centre in Walewale.

Alhaji Mohammed Haroon, the District Director of Education got involved in the group work.

The groups comprised  some local dignitaries, Education Office staff and Circuit Supervisors as well as Head teachers, teachers and students from  local Junior High Schools.

Some of the teachers were really good at using the group time to draw out ideas from the students. Group work is still quite unfamiliar to ghanaians.

As usual, the local children were fascinated by Anna and Louisa.

An ICT Club member from each of the six groups helped us to compile a list of answers from across the forum.  There must have been about 130 attendees in total. Anna and Louisa then displayed them while the Director gave his concluding thoughts.

At the end, Jacob, a Peace Corps volunteer shared the importance of commitment from the local community to the ICT initiative. We have applied for funding for more computers as the current six that are available severly limit what can be achieved. Let's hope that ICT in Walewale goes from strength to stength.
Check out http://www.cic-walewale.blogspot.com/ for the latest information.

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Community Meetings Overseas with World Vision and the Ghana Education Service

Thursday 24th June 2010 - Kunkwa 
Visit to Overseas with World Vision and Ghana Education Service staff - Mr Augustine from WV speaks to the women.

The village elders all turned out.

This mentally disabled young man watched procedings. There is little or no support in the rural communities for people like him.

More village elders, they listened attentively and accepted some challenging remarks from Mr Augustine.

Mr Kwame Robert Boateng doing what he does best! He was fantastic at engaging the crowd and challenging them with some real home truths about their community.

Individuals shared some of their concerns.

The children came to see what was going on. They had a chance to identify problems at school and come up with a possible solution.

They were keen to get involved.

We sat the children at the front of the group and they served as a wonderful visual aid and reminder about the importance of addressing issues which would impact upon their future lives. Here I am talking to the community about identifying the areas of need and trying to be proactive about dealing with issues.

This girl was one of the local school teachers. She and her colleages committed to turning up to work each day.

After a long day we went back to the World Vision centre to eat. Mr Nassamu is chewing on a guinea fowl bone.

We ate soup and water melon on the veranda.
 Friday 25th June 2010  Jadema
The school building at Jadema was in need of repair.

While we were waiting for the villagers to arrive I entertained the school children with some songs.

Some of them were a little afraid of me. For many, I was the first white person they would have seen.

When, after waiting a while still only a few villagers had turned up, we sent the children back to their homes to fetch their parents.

At last the villagers were assembled! We spoke to them about the legal requirements of education and the importance of encouraging girls to complete their education.

Many individuals were very honest about serious concerns for childrens' safety and wellbeing.

This gentleman spoke about the experienceof his three daughters, none of whom had managed to complete their education.

Kwame Robert delivering a serious message in an interative and captivating manner.

I spoke to the community about ownership of their school and the importance of identifying the key issues that were holding them back. We then split the community into groups: Chiefs and sub-chiefs, Assembly men and women, teachers, students, youth, women, School Management Committee and Parent Teacher Association. 

Each group was tasked with identifying the main problem for them and coming up with a possible solution.

We asked each group to give us the names of three individuals who we could hold accountable for delivering on their proposed solution.

The women needed to be encouraged to get involved at first.

Many views were aired and shared.

Then a representative from each group fed back to the whole community and stated their intention and who would be held accountable for delivering their solution.

Back for a well deserved meal of Kenkey and dried fish soup. Delicious!

Kwame demonstrates how to eat with your hand.

Saturday 26th June 2010  Loagri 
Mike, Anna and Louisa were meant to be joining us today but the heavens opened and they were unable to leave Walewale until later. They had a three hour drive through the rain but eventually managed to reach us. We had stayed put as no villagers would turn out in the rain!

Madam Ramatu went back to bed!

We all sat around and waited.

Eventually the rain stopped and the villagers were back from burying one of their elders and the community forum could go ahead. Four white people caused a big stir.

The women were out in force.

The men were ready to listen.

It was a great turn out.

This was Mike's first visit to the Overses area. He was fascinated to be a part of the forum.

This lady spoke passionately about the needs of women in the community.

Mr Nassamu briefed the village on the legal requirements of the Ghana Education system. Some of this was news to them.

Kwame Robert was on top form! Look how much the villgers are enjoying his interaction with them.

They listened attentively.

Then it was my turn to talk about the importance of education, particularly for girls.

I wanted them to know that they needed to have ownership of their local school.

I used Anna and Louisa as visual aids to talk about the need for girls to go to school every day if they were going to achieve and value and hopefully finish their education.

Everybody seemed to listen well.

At this point we were just about to split into discussion groups.

Madam Ramatu grabbed a moment to have a picture with her "daughters".

Kwame Robert did not want to miss out.

The children were terrified of us initially but by now they were getting bolder and even dared to touch Anna's hair. Eventually we were so mobbed that we had to retreat to the car for safety.

One little girl passed the time by drawing lovely pictures in the sand.

As before, a member from each group fed back to the whole community. Again they wrote down names of individals who agreed to try to deliver on the solution to the identified problem. World Vision will follow up on these in the weeks and months to come.

After a long day, we managed to get back in time for the second half of Ghana's World Cup match. Our neighbours George and Diana had invited us to watch on their TV and then presented Mike with a traditional smock as a leaving present.