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GOOD NEWS: Students of Colleges of Education in the North to receive Smartphones




The College of Education News Journal can authoritatively confirm that all 10 public Colleges of Education in the Northern Zone have taken delivery of their full consignment of smartphones and SD-cards from the Virtual Learning Taskforce team for onward distribution to students. The delivery of the smartphones and SD-cards to Colleges in the Northern Zone took place over the weekend.

Each pack contained the phone with a charger, earpiece, screen protector and back cover. It also comes with 1GB free data per month for 6 months on MTN or Vodafone.

The remaining 36 Colleges of Education will receive their SD-cards loaded with curriculum materials within the week while the Virtual Learning Taskforce team waits for the remaining phones to be cleared by the supplier for onward distribution to these Colleges.

Following the closure of schools in March 2020 by the President of the Republic of Ghana due to the outbreak of the Novel COVID-19, the T-TEL programme under the leadership of Mr Robin Todd, and in partnership with the National Council for Tertiary Education (NCTE) set up a Taskforce as a support and advisory group for the rollout of Virtual Learning in all the 46 public Colleges of Education in the Country.

The Virtual Learning Taskforce led by Dr Sam Awuku, who doubles as T-TEL Key Adviser on Policy, Leadership, Institutional Development, and Communications, had series of meetings with all major stakeholders associated with Colleges of Education.

Some of these stakeholders included the five mentoring universities thus; the University of Cape Coast, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, the University of Education, Winneba, University of Ghana and University for Development Studies, all Principals (PRINCOF), CETAG and CENTSAG National Executives, and TTAG National officers.

These meetings were very useful in identifying the needs of the Colleges in supporting the Emergency Remote Teaching and Learning (ERTL).

Also, a fundamental question that emerged during the meetings was “how to ensure that no learner is excluded from the ERTL – thus how to reach the unreachable?”. These hard-to-reach student teachers, according to the stakeholders were mainly faced with the challenge of not having an appropriate device to participate in the lesson and/or are out of internet coverage areas.

Working with TTAG, various options were discussed including; sending hard copies of learning materials to such students through agreeable means. One option that TTAG was unequivocal about was the request for the Colleges to support needy students with smartphones.

This, the Virtual Learning Taskforce saw as imperative and contingent to the success of the virtual learning.

The task force, therefore, resolved that proactivity is needed to interrupt this inequality and re-envisioned the opportunities provided by the school closure as a means of creating a more socially just platform for all student teachers to continue to learn irrespective of their location and ability.

The News Desk can confirm that the smartphones are Huawei Y7 Pro with a storage capacity of 4GB RAM and 64GB.

The smartphones and SD cards will be distributed to Colleges of Education by mid – July and made available to student teachers on a hire purchase basis at a subsidised price of GHC400 for a smartphone and SD card and GHC50 for the SD card only.

Student teachers will agree with their College so that they repay these funds over 12 months. Each College of Education will receive at least 50 smartphones, meaning that they will each be able to recover at least GHC20,000 through the hire purchase scheme.

These repaid amounts will then be used to create a College of Education e-Learning Fund which each College can use, with permission of NCTE, to promote e-Learning on their campus.

Colleges of Education who suffer from connectivity issues will work with NCTE’s technical experts to submit a proposal to the eLearning Fund which, if approved by NCTE and T-TEL, would enable each College of Education to rapidly upgrade their Wi-Fi connectivity.

Finally, $20,000 will also be available to conduct a communications campaign that will focus on building awareness and support amongst groups such as student teachers and parents where opposition or lack of accurate knowledge could inhibit virtual learning efforts.

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