Using STEM- and ICT-based MLLs to mitigate the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on high school girls in Ghana
Chronic poverty in Ghana excludes many girls from education and less than a quarter of the children in the poorest households attend lower secondary school. Persistent poverty pushes vulnerable girls into unsafe work, and child marriage and teenage pregnancy forces girls to drop out of school. For girls living in Ghana’s poor, rural regions, their educational outcomes have been disproportionately affected by the school closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This project will help tackle the educational challenges of quality, access and equity.
The Ghanaian government has recently announced a new strategy to invest in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) and Information Communications Technology (ICT) education to help create economic growth and employment. CAMFED will partner with the Ghana Education Service (GES) to implement the new education policies. Together, CAMFED and GES will explore how the Mobile Learning Lab (MLL) technology and existing curricula can enhance learners’ educational attainment, while developing level-appropriate STEM and ICT skills through hands-on use of the technology.
The main goals of the program are to:
- Increase student engagement and attendance in class by delivering learning materials in a practical and interesting way;
- Provide an opportunity for vulnerable girls to catch up on lost school time;
- Improve the quality of STEM and ICT education while developing level-appropriate skills in these areas;
- Provide access to STEM and ICT education to obtain better learning outcomes for students; and
- Expand the educational opportunities and skillsets of Learner Guides and teachers.
CAMFED will partner with GES to co-create a STEM- and ICT- focused Mobile Learning Lab pilot program that will run at under-resourced, girls’ high schools. Together, CAMFED and GES will explore how the MLL technology and existing curricula can enhance learners’ educational attainment, while developing level-appropriate STEM and ICT skills through hands-on use of the technology. STEM- and ICT-focused MLL sessions will be facilitated by young women from the CAMFED Association, who are already well-known at their local schools where they serve as Learner Guides. Learner Guides will be trained in the use of MLL technology and, in turn, will train STEM and ICT teachers at pilot schools so that they can co-facilitate the MLL sessions. STEM and ICT sessions will either be given allocated times on school timetables or will be incorporated into the regular STEM and ICT classes.
The Mobile Learning Labs, each consisting of a RACHEL and 30 tablets, will be installed in four government girls’ schools – two junior high schools, where ICT resources are particularly scarce, and two senior high schools in rural, disadvantaged areas. The pilot program will run for a year and will reach 2,500 to 3,000 female students.
While the pilot project will directly impact a single cohort of students, if successful and implemented nation-wide, it has the long-term potential to show that, by using appropriate technology and young women facilitators, tens of thousands of students, especially girls at underserved schools lacking Internet access, may be reached by the rollout of the government’s new STEM and ICT teaching strategy.
This will be our second project with CAMFED (Campaign for Female Education), an organization that has worked in Ghana since 1993. Our first partnership was enthusiastically received by all the project participants. Students were more confident and they developed a more positive attitude to learning that translated into better learning outcomes. School attendance was higher on the days the MLL sessions were held – showing how much the children enjoyed the Mobile Learning Labs compared to traditional methods of teaching.