GHANA CODE CLUB: DIGITAL YOUTHS SHINE
Innovation Type: Community Organized
In Ghana, knowledge of and access to the internet is very limited. According to the government, 51.6% of individuals in urban areas and 27.4% in rural communities have knowledge about the internet, 20.0% of households in urban areas and 12.8% in rural localities have access to the internet. Furthermore, solely 7.9% of individuals in Ghana possess a computer. The lack of access to the internet and equipment poses serious challenges to incorporating ICT into educational curriculums in Ghana. 85% of schools in the country lack sufficient facilities and computers, while 99% have no access to the Internet at all. Empowering children with computer technology and skills such as coding and programming is crucial to prepare them to thrive in their careers and change the digital landscape in the country.
Ghana Code Club is an after-school programme that teaches students computer programming skills. Children between ages 5-17 can join its free computer science programs from schools, community centres, and libraries to learn to programme using visual and text languages such as HTML/CSS and Python to make computer games, animations, websites, and mobile applications. The Club offers training for school teachers to understand the fundamentals of computer programming to become confident in delivering the new computing curriculum and continue the programme in-house with educational activities in the school. The Club also trains teachers and volunteers to become trainers.
Ghana Code Club was founded in 2015 by Ernestina Appiah. Before creating the NGO, Tina worked as a secretary in an IT firm. The figure of a leading female director in the firm inspired her to learn how to code, which gave her the possibility to work remotely providing technical support to small businesses as web developer and virtual assistant. Ernestina wanted her son to acquire IT skills and have all the possible opportunities, and this made her realise how difficult it was to provide this kind of training in Ghana. After discovering the methodologies and tools UK Code Club, she decided to grasp the potential of this initiative and she embarked on a journey with the creation of a local Code Club for children. She approached the director of a local school, which was interested in piloting the initiative. Ernestina also organised a Ghana Code Day to demonstrate the methodology and results of the Code Club. This event attracted the attention of the Ministry of Education, which decided to develop an initiative that could provide this kind of training at national level and also supported schools by providing equipment.
From a test experience in a school in 2015, Ghana Code Club has scaled to offer free code training curriculums to over 55,000 students, and has trained more than 550 teachers across more than 100 schools and clubs through different educational programmes and initiatives. Students who have completed the training programme experience better learning and achievement outcomes – they get better grades on average, and some have won a technology challenge award. Moreover, more than 200 volunteers have been signed up to become mentors and trainers for coding centres. In total, Ghana Code Club is scaling up its educational activities through 7 ICT learning centres across 4 regions in Ghana. And it still seeks to establish more partnerships to reach every child in underserved areas in the country.
- The diversification of activities and public benefited by the Ghana Code Club resides in the effective and fruitfulcollaborations among multiple stakeholders, including the private sector. Big corporations were decisive in thedevelopment of training centres for disadvantages children, providing equipment and resources.
- The Ministry of Education approach was a key element to ensure the replication of the initiative at a national level. Public officials were keen to explore new approaches and ideas, and after connecting with Ernestina andparticipating in the Ghana Code Day, they leveraged the potential of the code club approach designing it as a widerinitiative and engaging with the team to train the trainers in new schools.
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