One laptop per child policy in Ghana: any impact on teaching and learning?

Author:Owusu-Ansah, Samuel


Information and Communication Technology (ICT) is perceived to drive the growth of modern economies. To enhance its ability to achieve fundamental and sustainable improvement, Ghana like other countries has made huge investment and drafted policies that help the country utilize technology for its economic growth (Hitachi, 2009). As a result, ICT is now part of the Strategic Plan of Ghana Education Service. The Government of Ghana (GoG) has also introduced an intervention programme dubbed "One Laptop Per Child Policy "(OLPCP) to sustain the interest of pupils in ICT as well as enhance teaching and learning in basic schools. Several basic schools have already benefited from this policy, the programme which started in 2008 (ICT in Education Policy, 2008).

As Ololube et al. (2007) observed, the introduction of ICT usage, integration and diffusion at such level has initiated a new age in educational methodologies, thus it has radically changed traditional method of information delivery and usage patterns in the domain as well as offering contemporary learning experience for both instructors and students. It can be concluded that the deployment of ICT contributes to effective learning through expanding access, promoting efficiency, improving the quality of learning and improving management systems (Draxier and Haddad, 2002).

Ghana is however yet to derive the maximum benefit most of the developed economies have gained from investing in ICT. The perceived problem appears to be on the ground is that the academic performance of the beneficiaries of the laptops may not necessarily improve because there are no qualified teachers, modems, accessories, maintenance, electricity as well as infrastructure to enhance the teaching and learning of ICT in the communities the policy has been introduced.

The rapid development of technology globally has affected all spheres of life- notably in agriculture, medicine, education, communication, records keeping and management, etc. In an attempt to embrace this global phenomenon and to build the capacity of its human capital, the GoG has instituted a policy of a laptop per child in basic schools. This seeks to support teaching and learning, as capped in Ghana's ICT Education Policy of 2008. Several studies (Draxier and Haddad, 2002; Mangiatordi and Pischetola, 2010) have been conducted on this policy, but they seemed not to have covered the effect on teaching and learning of beneficiaries in developing countries like Ghana. It is against this backdrop that further empirical findings were necessary to fill the gap and add to the body of knowledge on the impact of academic performance (dependent variable) of beneficiary students using "One Laptop Per Child Policy" as an independent variable.

Objectives of the study

The study assesses the impact of the OLPCP on teaching and learning in basic schools in the Suhum Municipality, a suburb of the Eastern Region of Ghana. Specifically the study sought to find out the criteria used for the distribution of the laptops to the beneficiary students, assess the impact of the OLPCP on the academic performance of the beneficiary students and ascertain the challenges that hinder the attainment of the goals of the policy.

To explore the objectives of the study, the following specific questions were asked: What criteria are used in the distribution of the laptops?; Has the policy led to an improvement in the academic performance of the beneficiary students? and What challenges hinder the attainment of the goals of the policy?.

Literature Review

Introduction of ICT in education

Information technology (IT) refers to all equipment, processes, procedures and systems used to provide and support information systems (both computerized and manual) within an organisation and those reaching out to customers and suppliers (Shelly, et al., 2006). The term information and communication technology (ICT) was coined to reflect the seamless convergence of digital processing and telecommunications (Negroponte, et al., 2006). ICTs include hardware, processes and systems that are used for storing, managing, communicating and sharing information (ICT in Education Policy, 2008). ICTs are indispensable and have been accepted as part of the contemporary world especially in the industrialized society (Hawkins, 1998).

The pervasiveness of ICT has brought about rapid change in technology, social, political and global economic transformation thus, cultures and societies must be adjusted to meet the challenge of the knowledge age (Yusuf, 2005). It is widely acknowledged that ICTs can be used to improve the quality of teaching and learning in schools (Owusu-Ansah, 2013).

A study by Amenyedzi et al. (2011) conducted a study in Tema metropolis to assess the computer and Internet usage as supplementary educational material to enhance quality education; help improve educational management and planning; how students use the computers and internet to facilitate their learning. The Stratified sampling method was used to select students and teachers. The results showed that a significantly high percentage of respondent teachers (92%) were computer literate and 78% of respondent students also had basic knowledge in computer. However, less than 15% of these teachers used the internet as an innovative way of improving teaching and learning. Over 30% of the teachers also used the computer mainly for research work. Despite the limited use of computers by teachers in their teaching, many agree that the computer has changed the way students learn. One fourth of teachers have received some form of training in the use of computers, with quite minimal training in the pedagogical integration of ICT. It appears that integration of ICT in Ghanaian school systems is a major step in promoting innovation. From the on-going discussions, it can be concluded that the adoption of ICT in education has become a necessity rather than a choice. This suggests that the present and future academic global community will utilize ICTs to a higher degree. In other words, it is imperative for both teachers and students not to only know how to use ICTs, but they need to become comfortable with using them.

The role of ICT in teaching and learning

As noted by Swarts (2006) ICTs are powerful and essential tools for learning, understanding, interpreting and communicating about the real world or they can be black holes into which we pour our money, intelligence and time, getting very little in...

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