vrijdag 20 november 2009

“ICT & Education, a look at the Computerised Schools Selection and Placement System (CSSPS)”

Monday morning 09.00. GINKS is organising a seminar on “ICT & Education, a look at the Computerised Schools Selection and Placement System (CSSPS)”. Not many people have yet arrived, but at 09.45 we can start with the seminar with around 35 participants

In the panel are 4 people from a different background with Mr. Edward Addo-Dankwa, as the moderator for the forum (and a board member of GINKS). The panel consist of Mr. J.J.K. Baku, the DR/Head of the WAEC Research department, Madam Victoria Opoku, the Director of Secondary Education Division at the Ghana Education Service (GES), Mr. Samuel Ofori-Adjei, the headmaster of Accra academy, who is also CHASS president and Bridgit Sloan McMullen, Uniterra/WUSC volunteer on behalf of Child’s Rights International.

The most interesting part of the whole discussion was the insight in the difficulties of the Ghanaian School system. A system that is really different from the Dutch system. After Junior Highschool all Ghanaian school kids do a test: the BECE test. This test is the most important test for the future of most Ghanaian kids. It will determine if you are aloud to continue with your school and can go to Senior Highschool, but it will also determine the quality of the school you can go to.

If you have a score of more than 30 points you are not allowed to go to senior secondary school. But even with less than 30 points you are not sure of a placement, because there are not enough places in senior secondary schools. Last year 68,000 children were not placed, while 147,000 did found a placement. Ghanaian people also favour boarding schools over day schools.

Every kid can make a choice of 6 schools and these can be all over the country. The new CSSPS system makes than a selection, based on the number of points you have. So the choice you make in these 6 schools is very important. If you pick 6 top schools, but you have not a very low score, than you have the chance that no school have selected you. Than you have to wait if there are still vacancies afterwards after all selections have been made, to see if you can still be placed. But if you choose schools in different leves, you make a better chance.

This is how it works. If there are for example 100 places for a school at level 1, it will select the 100 best students who selected this school as there number 1. Maybe the cut off for this school is 9 points. If you have 15 points the system will than look at your second choice. It will look if there are in there selected list people with more than 15 points. If that is the case, you are selected. Otherwise it will look at your third choice. Etc until your sixth choice.

The system only looks at merits, with is a big advantage to the old system, that had a lot of corruption and favouring in it. But there were also disadvantages. The panel plead for the introduction raw scores (the percentage that you score for a subject) in stead of just the aggregate number. The other critic was about the online announcement that favours urban people. Although everyone receive the result per mail, some have earlier access, because the online announcement. The system has shown that smart kids from rural areas have now the opportunity to go to top schools, which was almost impossible in the old system without the right connections. But a question mark was there also to see if this was in the best interest of the child!

woensdag 9 september 2009

Solar Chargers for Farming Cooperatives in Ghana

Davy, from SEND foundation, would pick me up on Saturday morning 1st August at 06.00 and he was there on the dot. In clean white he thought that we would only go to Salaga to visit the field office. You could see the flooding along the road. In Salaga we picked up Wumpini, the senior officer of SEND at Salaga, to visit three farmer communities who tested a solar charger for mobile phones in the ECAMIC project. In February A-Solar, a Dutch company, donated 5 solar chargers to test in Ghana in 5 farmer groups.

ECAMIC is a project where farmers have access to market information through a mixture of channels: notice boards, field staff and mobile phone. All these communities have no access to electricity, although in one community the electricity cable was passing the village! The first community was a very big community with 700 families. 25 of them participated in the SEND farm cooperative. The ECAMIC project provided them with 2 subsidized phones, but now already 20 of them have phones. Mobile phones are booming in the Kalende community, but there is no electricity. No one else has solar power and there are no phone shops where they can buy credits. They are 6 km from Salaga, where everything is available, but that consumes a lot of time and commercial charging is expensive. The solar charger was a huge success. But it was not enough to even charge the phones in the group. With sunny weather the charger could charge 3 phones a day, with clouds only 2.

They would like to charge 30 a day. Now they have seen the advantages of phones all of them would like to have one. They not only use it for accessing market information, but all their crops (yams, maize, ground nuts, vegetables, etc) are in the system. If market traders visit the village they have a better negotiating position. They also have contact with market traders in Accra and Kumasi by phone.

The phone is also used to contact people in Salaga to bring goods if they will come to the village or to contact relatives in case of a funeral. The other two communities were smaller. Sogon 1 and Bondando had groups of 20 farm families. In both groups there were 8 phones. They both would like to be able to charge 6 phones a day and more phones for the group for a subsidized rate. All three groups would like to set up a small shop to charge mobiles. They would also charge other phones in the community for a small fee for the benefit of the cooperative, though the small chargers more are meant for personal use than for commercial use. But all have seen the benefits of the mobile phone and the impact it can make on their lives.

donderdag 6 augustus 2009

How even a little ICT can improve health care

First stop: Langbinsi

On Thursday 31st July I was the guest of Norbert from ACDEP, a faith based ACDEP Longbinsidevelopment organisation in Northern Ghana. IICD supports, together with Cordaid, a project within ACDEP to set up 6 information centres at 3 livelihood members, two health members and at their headquarters in Tamale. I visited today the two health centres in Langbinsi and Nalerigu. The road was bad after the turnoff at Walewale. It had rained a lot in the morning, so the roads were muddy.In Langbinsi I was welcomed by David, a nurse and the local ICT champion. He was responsible for the small ICT centre at the clinic. At the clinic were too many patients for the old building and un undermanned staff. The catchment area is 28,000 people from communities as far as 40 kilometres away. The clinic is training community workers for the 15 different villages, but so far this has happened for only three villages. The archive is still
paperwork. ACDEP Longbinsi archiveAn according to David this was not even a busy day, I should have been here at a market day! The clinic was set up in 1974, but the current buildings were from the early nineties. They have small examination rooms and a lab, but no space to admit people. They have to stay with family or friends in Langbinsi. The closest hospital is an hour away, by ambulance.


The ICT centre is used in different ways. David, the nurse, has ACDEP Longbinsi 2diagnosed several skin and STD’s using a small digital camera and google health. He documents everything in dossiers, that he discusses with the doctor. The clinic tried to set up a link with other hospitals in the neighbourhood for the diagnosis via e-mail, but most are understaffed and are not willing to take on extra responsibilities without a big fee. So David has used the internet as best as possible. It is also used to store updated medical information for the staff. 10 of the 25 staff members are trained so far and are able to make reports, browse the net or sent emails. Community workersThe community workers are also trained in basic ICT and also with the help of the computer in basic community health working. One of the community health workers is also a pastor. He uses the computer at the centre now also to contact to churches in the US, who have now donated for the improvement of his church in the community. David has been very innovative using the internet in providing extra health care, but he is full of plans what he further wants to improve.

After the stop at Lanbinsi the weather cleared and we continued further east to Nalerigu. At the public health clinic of the mission hospital we were welcomed by Dr. Flores Baba. Acdep NolerigaShe said that there was a programme in Nagboo, one of the communities not too far from Nalerigu. When we arrived at the square next to the small health clinic was full of youths. This was the community Youth programme. These youth were trained at the clinic in ICT, but were now performing a play for the community using different forms of ICT: mobile phones, computers were mentioned, downloaded material about HIV/AIDS laminated. Although I did not understand the
local language it was interesting to watch the crowd how they reacted to this Acdep Nolerigainfotainment. Because it was clear that a lot of information was distributed through this drama. Afterwards we discussed at the public health clinic the way forward. At the moment the internet was not working, because the modem was defect and it takes long before it is repaired. They had lot’s of plans to promote the use of ICT to many more youth and to the hospital staff. They were hoping for modules of continuous training for health workers, so that they were able to do that here without travelling too far.

maandag 30 maart 2009

Advocacy & Policy Influencing
Last week (23-27 March 2009) I followed a very inspiring course at the International NGO Training & Reserach Centre (INTRAC) in Oxford in Advocacy & Policy Influencing.

It was inspiring both for the diversity of the participants as for the content of the course.

The participants were all very experienced in the field and came from a variety of countries: Niger, Benin, Kenya, Uganda, South Africa, a Zambian stationed in Fiji, Moldava and Slovenia. But also from different types of organisations: Unicef, UNDP, a Farmer Organisation, a health NGO, an umbrella NGO in citizen's participation and two consumer NGO's.

Key concepts
Although it is difficult to share the practical experiences of the different participants, I am able to share the key concepts of the course:

* Advocacy is more than only public campaigning. It contains research to produce evidence, lobbying, media coverage, working with allies in combination with public campaigns. But for a successful policy change you don't need all strategies always for all issues.

* The opposition matrix: Analise the arguments of your opponent thoroughly and use this in your campaign. If you only use your own arguments, you only convince people who are already convinced.

* Use unexpected allies: Do not look only for like minded NGO's in your coalition, it is more convincing if you have for example local government, companies and international organisations on your sight if you want to change government policy

* Use parliamentarians to put pressure on ministers. If you can persuade people in parliament to ask questions in parliament, this could accelerate the decision making process, because the minister has to react on questions in parliament

* Planning for success: advocacy does not stop when the desired change becomes policy. Plan for that time! You have to monitor the implementation phase and keep the pressure on the government, because sometimes policy is never implemented. Governments are not always sure how to implement and you might be able to assist.

* An effective campaign should pass the TEA test: it it should Touch people. It needs to make a connection with its target to prompt a response, but that is not enough. It convinces its target that there is a solution for the problem that touched the people, so it should Enthuse them. But the third part is the most important: the target should Act based on your message.

* For a good campaign you need to have a clear message, a simple solution, clear outrage, use of the media, political support, have good allainces and get people to act. You should be able to summarize your key message in 15 seconds for your elevator pitch.

* Rich picture: Use Rich picture as a tool: it illustrate the key factors of your issue, it could show the situation in all its complexity in the form of a cartoon type representation.

* The importance of M&E: measure the success of your activities in terms of output, outcome and impact. Impact assessment is the most important and this should be participative to include the end users. But that is something what we at IICD already clearly understood and have incorporated.

* The fun to design a campaign: With a small group we had to present a campaign against illegal dumping in the rivers of Anylandia that causes health problems for our children

Links for further reading

* www.apc.org
* BOND (British Overseas NGOs for development)
* Communication Initiative
* The advocacy toolkit from Tearfund
* Campaign Effectiveness Programme
* Advocacy Source Book Wateraid 2007

woensdag 18 maart 2009

Educator an Zambia HIV/AIDS prevention game

Who could support the conversion of the Educator HIV/AIDS prevention game into an online game?
During my last trip to Zambia in February 2009 I had a meeting with Mr Benson Mwembeshi, an enthusiastic advocate for HIV/AIDS prevention. He has developed a game that will help people to discuss taboo issues around HIV/AIDS during the game in their local language. Mr Mwembeshi is looking for support to reach a larger audience. His game is endorsed by the Ministry of Education in Zambia and the National AIDS Counsil. He would like to reach out to 30,000 students, he has an agreement with the minister of Education, but they don't have the funding. He also would like to convert it into an online game. The prototype looks fine and is well tested. Any ideas where he could look for funding?

See the video he produced about the "Educator"

vrijdag 13 maart 2009

GINKS Focus Grouop

Key results analysis questionnaires

Margaret Kyiu gave a presentation of the key results:

  • Annual review 2008 based on 115 questionnaires, 77 online and 44 filled on paper

  • 24% who filled in were female (26% of the members of GINKS are women, this is almost same)

  • 83% had education up to the tertiary level as against 100% in 2007 and 85% in 2006

  • 45% live in the capital city as against 69% in 2007 and 75% in 2006

  • 74% of respondents said the objectives of the network are clear

  • 37% said they had not achieved their goals for participating

  • 67% of respondents experienced awareness

  • Knowledge sharing is 69% (up by 19%)

  • Lobbying and advocacy and policy participation is 52%

  • Gender impact is 51%

  • More female (64%) see gender impacts than male (47%).

  • Group discussions

    The participants were divided into 4 groups, with each group given a focus to deliberate upon and come up with recommendation which will form bases for the action plan.


    impressions of the Focus Group meeting

     Group 1 Lobby, Advocacy & Policy Influencing

    • In what areas should GINKS be able to advocate for or to influence policy?
    • How
      members could be more involved in Lobbying, Advocacy and Policy influence?
    • In which ways could we engage policy makers the more?

    On the first issue, the group said that GINKS must prepare and present paper (inputs) to parliament when passing a bill

    On HOW MEMBERS CAN GET INVOLVED, the group came up with the following:

    • Build capacity of members in lobbying and advocacy
    • Constitute committee on lobbying and advocacy for the network
    • Team up with organisers with ICT skills
    • Use of educational institutions
    • Collate views from members in the communities in the rural areas

    On WAYS TO ENGAGE POLICY MAKERS, the group said that GINKS should involve
    them in GINKS activities

  • Interact more and more with them to ensure their commitment
  • Pick and follow up on their statements (for GINKS)
  • Seek
    for their sponsorship (for GINKS)

  • Group 2 Low female participation in the network

    • Why is Female participation is still low in the network and How can we improve it; and
    • Why members feel that the viewpoint of men and women are not well integrated in activities and how it can we improve

    why female participation is low on the network, the members of group 2 gave the
    following reasons:

    • Non conscious efforts to involve women in ICT
    • Time of network activities
    • Socio-cultural factors
    • Techno
      centric nature of ICT

    They thus recommended the following as ways through which this can improve:

    • Conscious efforts to involve more women in activities of the network
    • Good
      timing of network activities
    • Education / awareness creation
    • Practical
      orientation on ICT tools
    • Activities / issues more beneficial to women

    On why members feel that the viewpoint of men and women are not well integrated in activities, they said that it is due to Lack of effective participation in the network by women. They thus
    recommended that

    • issues that concern and interest women should be raised; and
    • women
      participation should be encouraged

     Group 3 High educational level of members

    • Why there is a skew in GINKS towards tertiary education and how we can reach out to
      people outside tertiary education (Secondary, primary,) in terms of membership
      and services; and
    • How we should reach out to people who cannot read and write

    On the first issue, the group held the view that there is actually no tilt but a decline in the tertiary level, but that the secondary and primary level is a national problem. They thus
    recommended that:

    • Govt should build more conducive learning environments for secondary  and primary schools
    • GINKS and other private stakeholders should advocate for ICT policies friendly to
      primary to secondary schools, so that people that end up stopping at those levels will still have adequate e-literacy
    • Infrastructural issues should be dealt with also
    • GINKS
      should advocate that the school authorities in primary and sec school to give the students more access to computer labs and for trainers to be provided for the schools
    • Contact
      with organisations that work with SMEs (especially membership organisations) in order to set up trainings in the use of ICTs
    • Awareness is also necessary

    On reaching out to the people who cannot read and write, the group recommended the repackaging of information through mediums and languages they can understand – e.g, pictures, video, radio

    Group 4 Non achievement of goals

    • What kind of goals do members expect to achieve within GINKS?
    • Why do members don’t achieve their goals? How can we improve on it?
    • Why do so many people from rural areas not achieve their goals? How do we improve it?

    In answering these questions, the group 4
    members in analysing the fact that 37% of GINKS members are not aware of the objectives of the organisation, held that familiarity with GINKS objectives is a necessary foundation to whether or not the members achieve their goals. They based their assessment on the following thematic areas:

    • Information and knowledge sharing
    • Networking (through the networking, one can also meet his aspirations)
    • Knowledge and skills acquisition for local content development
    • Conferences and workshops

    Mismatch objectives

    • Unrealistic expectations (people’s intention to attend many conferences, programmes etc.)
    • Awareness creation – Raising the level of awareness and objectives of GINKS
    • Practicing on the skills we have acquired and sharing those skills with others

    Easy / regular access to ICT tools (infrastructure)

    • Low education level

    donderdag 19 februari 2009

    Kalingalinga Youth resource Centre

    Visit on 6th February to Kalingalinga Youth Resource Centre. There I had a meeting with the director Mr Ben Sambambi, Mr Isaac Chanda (the trainer of Ndola Resource Centre, one of our training partners in this Youth Resource Centre programme) and a group of several teachers that have been trained by Isaac and his colleagues.

    Situation on the ground

    What was clear during my visit that the ICT skills were utilized in the several classes, although they would like to incorporate even more, by moving PC's to each class room. But what I did see were designs for carpernty and tailoring done in excel, an accountant that could do his accounts in Excel and Pastel, a foodproduction teacher who designed menu's for the catering services. They trained around 300 students in basic ICT. One of the brightest is now taken on as a staff to assist in webdesign.

    Interview with Isaac Chanda, Ndola Resource Centre

    The challenge is the number of PC's, so that not all skills could be practiced a lot. Connectivity is not there, so they have to go to an internet cafe and also the level of ICT literacy is not yet high enough. They require more training, because there is a high demand from students. The number of staff compared to students is still too low and in order to generate more funds they teach also students with more money. The idea is to subsidize training for the poor, but because of too little staff they train too many with some money and not enough without. More females are trained than males, because of the total number of studens (there are more females and the vocational centre)

    Interview with Mr Ben Sambambi, Manager Kalingalinga Youth Resource Centre


    Encourage students to use ICT in all classes with classrooms equiped with enough computers and teachers with enough ICT skills. And with an internet cafe that is used in the day time for classes and in the evening to generate some money. The internet cafe should also be a library.


    dinsdag 20 januari 2009

    Saskia Harmsen en Martine Koopman het social web en ontwikkelingshulp


    Welke technologie gebruik je?
    Allerlei web 2.0-tools. Voor verschillende doelgroepen en doelen.

    Waarom? Wat kun je ermee en wat doe je ermee?
    Web 2.0-internetapplicaties zijn in principe voor iedereen toegankelijk en nuttig om te gebruiken. In principe, want we werken natuurlijk met landen die in ontwikkeling zijn en waar het internet wel steeds meer bereikbaar wordt, maar een goede bandbreedte nog vaak ontbreekt. Vanuit die beperkingen proberen we allerlei applicaties zo goed mogelijk in te zetten. Slechts enkele voorbeelden, zowel voor het internationale werk als het lokale:

    •Dgroups (www.dgroups.org) is een internetplatform voor groepen en organisaties die zich bezighouden met internationale ontwikkeling. Dit platform vormt de basis van peer-exchanges en diensten als platform voor communities of practice en communities of interest, vooral vanwege de email listserv en het niet commerciĆ«le karakter van
    het platform. Er is vorig jaar onderzoek gedaan naar de effectiviteit van dit platform; een samenvatting is te vinden op thegiraffe.wordpress.com/2008/07/01/dgroupsresearch-report.

    •Del.icio.us wordt gebruikt door mensen in ontwikkelingslanden om door middel van deze social bookmarking tool relevante informatie en websites te vinden, te gebruiken en te delen. Westerse informatie is daarvoor meestal niet zomaar
    geschikt, en door het gebruiken van zulke social bookmarking tools kan gericht informatie gezocht worden van bronnen die voor de gebruiker relevant and waardevol zijn.

    •Het project Radio La Luna in Ecuador (www.radiolaluna.com/news.php). De website zelf is gebouwd rondom een blog, waar relatief veel commentaar wordt gegeven door lezers. Verder wordt de site ook door andere relevante blogs gevoed, maar ook met interessante video’s van YouTube. Gebruikers kunnen zich inschrijven voor de podcasts en vervolgens mp3’s en RSS feeds downloaden. Radio La Luna geeft gebruikers en luisteraars ook de mogelijkheid om zelf een blog op Radio La Luna aan te maken (zie http://radiolaluna.com/blogs)

    •Het National ICT4D netwerk in Ecuador, door IICD opgezet en ondersteund, is InfoDesarrollo (www.infodesarrollo.ec). Vooral organisaties en individuen die met ontwikkelingsgerelateerd werk bezig zijn, worden gestimuleerd Web 2.0-technologieĆ«n te gebruiken. Tools om met deelnemers in het netwerk uit te wisselen en de informatieuitwisseling te democratiseren zijn bijvoorbeeld: Facebook,RSS en SlideShare om presentaties te delen: www.slideshare.net/Jubileo.Ecuador/web-20-ejemplos-desu-uso-en-africa-y-ecuador

    Curriki.org is een ‘open source’ website die de ontwikkeling en het gratis beschikbaar stellen van lesmaterialen wil bevorderen. In de naam ‘curriki’ worden de woorden curriculum en wiki samengebracht. Docenten zijn erg enthousiast.

    Wat is er nu zo leuk en/of nuttig aan? Zou je het kunnen missen?

    Web 2.0-tools zijn absoluut onmisbaar geworden. Wat vroeger niet kon, kan nu wel: mensen bereiken met informatie, op een manier die ze er ook actief bij betrekt. Waar het internet niet komt, worden cd-roms gebruikt die gedownloade informatie op lokaal niveau in de netwerken en bij individuen brengt. Het is prachtig om te zien hoe allerlei individuen zich gemotiveerd tonen en gesterkt weten omdat ze nu zelf ook een stem hebben gekregen...

    Een belangrijke ontwikkeling in Afrika zijn trouwens de mobiele telefoons. Waar internetverbindingen en zeker de satelliet duur blijven, zie je overal mobiele telefoons die ook steeds meer worden ingezet. Een voorbeeld is een organisatie die lid is van het door IICD gesteunde National ICT4D Network in Uganda, I-network. Deze organisatie, BROSDI maakt via een landbouwsite informatie beschikbaar die door boeren, boerengroepen en extension workers zelf is gedocumenteerd.Op deze website kunnen informatie en podcasts gedownload worden om in het veld af te spelen, ook via
    SMS. (www.celac.or.ug)

    In Zuid-Afrika is een bedrijf, Mxit (www.mxit.co.za/web/company.htm), er goed in geslaagd om de mobiele telefoon in te zetten om mensen met elkaar te laten communiceren met de GSM als mobile instant messenger. Het heeft niet direct een relatie met ontwikkelingssectoren of leren, maar is breed in gebruik onder jongeren. Zij gebruiken dit platform via hun mobiele telefoons om met elkaar uit te wisselen over opdrachten voor school en roepen zo bijvoorbeeld ook hulp in van medestudenten etc. Leer je er iets van? Is het een instrument dat bij het leren en onderwijzen ingezet zou kunnen worden? Het zijn krachtige instrumenten bij het leren en onderwijzen, omdat je het leren interactief maakt en daardoor leraren en vooral studenten motiveert om goed mee te doen.

    In het project TICE in Burkina Faso bijvoorbeeld (www.ticeburkina.bf), zetten leraren opdrachten in een blog en moeten leerlingen hun werkstukjes op de blog toevoegen. Zo wordt
    het een gezamenlijk werkstuk, en kunnen alle leerlingen de inhoudelijke antwoorden van de andere leerlingen lezen. Wel moet je telkens blijven bestuderen welke tool in een bepaalde situatie goed zal werken, of er niet te veel bandbreedte vereist
    is, of het gebruikersvriendelijk is en of het regelmatig gegevens opslaat en bewaart, zeker in situaties waarin de stroom regelmatig uitvalt. Je moet je uiteraard bewust blijven van het feit dat wij ‘user driven’ moeten opereren en ons niet alleen maar laten leiden door technologische mogelijkheden. Maar het zijn krachtige instrumenten voor leraren om te leren voor zichzelf op te komen – kijk maar eens naar de invloed van www.teachertube.com in Afrika – om materialen te vinden voor leersituaties en om je daardoor geholpen en gesterkt te weten in je functioneren. We blijven dan ook de ontwikkelingen goed volgen.

    Saskia Harmsen is Officer Capacity Development en Martine Koopman Officer Knowledge Sharing bij IICD, International Institute for Communication and Development
    (www.iicd.org). Een organisatie die zich specialiseert in het gebruik van ICT als instrument voor ontwikkeling in de sectoren onderwijs, gezondheidszorg, milieu, bestuur en levensonderhoud(landbouw). Beiden zijn op zoek naar praktische en duurzame ICT-oplossingen, die gedeeld kunnen worden met anderen. Waar Martine’s werk vooral gericht is op het zo goed mogelijk laten functioneren van de netwerken voor
    kennisdeling in Ghana en Zambia, richt Saskia zich op programma’s, projecten en individuen in Zambia om die zo goed mogelijk te laten werken, en ondersteunt het delen van ervaringen tussen IICD’s verschillende landenprogramma’s.

    Dr. Guus Wijngaards is lector eLearning bij Hogeschool
    INHolland. Zie www.inholland.nl/elearning