The current Covid-19 pandemic has abruptly exposed the weaknesses of public systems all over the world. For obvious reasons, the focus was and still is on the healthcare system, but other systems were also put under significant stress.
After healthcare, the second most affected system was education. Schools were closed, and in the advanced countries they will reopen only partially, to provide a combination of traditional and remote education. For senior years, traditional education will be completely replaced by remote education (e-learning).
Unfortunately, under current conditions, this is impossible in Ghana. Only 8% of primary schools and 20% of secondary schools have access to the internet. (Source: http://www.hdr.undp.org/en/countries/profiles/GHA)
Only 27.6% of Ghanaians own a computer. Although almost 95% of adults own a smartphone, half of them cannot access the internet via their phones. (Source: http://afrobarometer.org/sites/default/files/publications/Sommaire%20des%20r%C3%A9sultats/gha-r8-sor_2019.pdf)
All in all, less than 40% of Ghanaians have access to internet (World Bank data).
The data clearly show that, right now, remote education is impracticable in Ghana. Neither the children nor their parents or their teachers have access to the internet in a manner that would make remote education a viable option.
Lack of internet access means that neither the children nor their teachers have the digital skills to produce and to participate in remote education programmes.
And this puts an entire generation of Ghanaian children at risk. They can either go back to school and risk being infected with the new virus, or stay at home and risk losing access to education. Either way, they lose.
It is imperative to learn fast from this tragic situation and start changing Ghana. We need internet access in every primary and secondary school. And, first and foremost, we need affordable internet access for all.
Until we have this, Ghana won’t be able to grow into an advanced nation. And the children put at risk today will become tomorrow’s vulnerable adults.
It is our moral duty not to let this happen. And it is the current government’s fault that for four years it did nothing to improve the children’s internet access, thus risking the future of an entire generation.
Free SHS is excellent under normal circumstances, but under the current situation it means virtually nothing. What Ghana needs is free (or at least affordable) access to internet for its children. Simply because this is the future of education.
The current government failed to provide it. Instead, it put an entire generation (our children’s generation) at risk, transforming it into a dispensable generation. No matter what political party we usually favour, this is completely unacceptable.