Computer Access in GhanaAs one of the world’s most impoverished African countries, Ghana has a poverty rate that touches roughly 55% of its population, with only 24% possessing internet access. This acute problem owes itself in part to a large number of its youth who grow up in the absence of education accessibility. However, educators have begun to combat the ailments of impoverished Ghanaian communities. To do this, they utilize the fundamental cornerstone of a globalized world — computer technology. Computer access in Ghana fights poverty by empowering Ghana’s poverty-stricken youth. As a result, they gain greater access to future job security and change the course of their own lives along with the communities they inhabit. Below are three ways that computers and new technologies are improving the standard of living in Ghana.

Teaching 21st-Century Job Skills to Teens

The inclusion of computer access within the Ghanaian education system allows teens to develop valuable 21st-century technology literacy. It stands to open critical doors to higher education. In an era that is inarguably dominated by mobile phones, laptops and wireless communications, access proves paramount. Programs like those presented by Ghana Code Club, which has taught nearly 1,700 students and trained more than 300 teachers, enrich Ghana’s youth with computer science and coding languages classes, paving the way for future innovations as well as national economic growth.

Increasing Earning Potential

A Pew Survey showed that computer users connected to the internet are more likely to have higher incomes. The University of Ghana offers a dedicated computer science course that nurtures software programmers who have the potential to earn up to three times as much as their professors. However, only through expansion will these opportunities allow them to truly reach a wide demographic. Increased computer access in Ghana is difficult to ensure. Currently, only around 36 people graduate from the University of Ghana’s technology program annually. Vast areas of the country are still shielded from these positive impacts.

Breaking the Gender Stereotype

Despite the computer’s role in expanding social and economic standards in Ghana, many traditional African communities restrict women and girls on the basis of acceptable gender roles. Although, new non-governmental organizations like STEMbees, a Ghana-based organization, inspire and allow young girls to break the stigma and enter into the fields of coding science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Other initiatives, like UNESCO’s Girls Can Code, also work to fight the ongoing battle against gender stereotypes in the African educational sphere. Methods that implement computer stations in Ghanaian villages and equip new schools with current technology continue to increase computer access in Ghana.

Ghana now finds itself in the unique position of being on the verge of a technological revolution that coincides with its industrial revolution. Each of the two transformational eras is set to drive the country toward a prosperous future. This future, additionally, carries with it the promise of greater opportunity for Ghanaian children. Average Ghanaian students gaining access to computer technology furthers the assurance of a better standard of living for Ghanaian citizens. Over time, this development can carry on for generations to come.

Mihir Gokhale
Photo: Flickr

As the world grows increasingly connected and technological, the tide of calls for people to work in the technology industry grows every day. In fact, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 70 percent of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) jobs created in 2015 were in computer science – almost seven million of them.

With this in mind, it is easy to understand the push for more students to learn coding and other computer science-related skills. Even the U.N. Secretary General has called for “greater investments in computer science.” Investments in these occupations also present a great opportunity for developing countries to move forward technologically and socioeconomically.

One organization in Ghana helps increase the number of students interested in computer science and teaches children coding. In 2016, the Ghana Code Club began in order to teach children in Accra computer programming skills. Because the school curriculum in Ghana does not include technology, this club addresses the learning gap through after-school programming. Ernestina Appiah, the club’s current CEO, founded Ghana Code Club and also organizes the activity at multiple schools.

After working as a secretary in IT, Ernestina Appiah realized how valuable basic coding skills could be. Then, she learned how to design a few of her own websites. Soon after, she founded the organization as a project in partnership with the iSpace Foundation. Now the Ghana Code Club serves students between the ages of eight and 17 in different areas of Ghana after school.

Students who participate in the after school program gain valuable skills they can use in any career path. From building and designing websites with HTML to game creation using Scratch, students who participate in the after school activity can explore all of their interests. Girls, especially, have the opportunity to gain a foothold into the world of technology.

Programs run by trained volunteers and ICT teachers operate in 13 schools across the country. IT professionals train volunteers and primary school teachers who have no prior coding experience. Teachers and volunteers then team up to teach participants. Young children who participate get an early introduction into the world of computers, while older children learn Python, HTML and CSS. All students have the opportunity to learn and work with Scratch.

The Ghana Code Club also cycles through different schools, community centers and libraries to further expand its reach. With its dedicated CEO, team and board, it shows no signs of stopping.

By helping students gain important skills by promoting coding in Ghana, the Ghana Code Club increases the competitiveness of students entering the workforce. As the program expands, more and more children will have the opportunity to impact their communities and make a better future for themselves by learning these invaluable skills.

Selasi Amoani

Photo: Flickr