After more than a few false starts EDUnet, the flag ship information system of the Ghana Education Decentralization Project, officially “launched” on December 20th, 2011. Officials from the Ministry of Education, the Ghana Education Service (GES) and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) spoke hopefully about the transition from the current system based on paper forms, snail mail and sneaker net to a more digital approach to managing the GES.
I woke up one morning earlier this week to a pale, grey-blue haze. For now the seemingly endless days of bright blue skies have gone with the arrival of the Harmattan, a dry and dusty trade wind from the north. If you believe Wikipedia (and who doesn’t) the wind passes over the Sahara picking up ultra fine particles of dust on its way. Night temperatures drop, humidity gets nose-bleed inducingly low and even air traffic is affected.
Ghana news media setting up in preparation for the briefing. Mr. Victor Note leads the group in a prayer for a successful launch. USAID Chief of Mission, Mrs Cheryl Anderson congratulates the partners and team. GES ICT Administrator, Mr. Atta-Williams describes the new GES Sharepoint Portal. GEDP ICT Development Lead, Mr. David Ofori-Atta fields a question from the audience.
For the past two weeks the GEDP Team has been travelling to each of the 10 regions in Ghana. The purpose of these regional visits is two-fold: to report back to the Regional Education Decentralization Advisory Committees (REDAC) on the draft decentralization framework and to conduct monitoring of ICT user training being provided to region and district staff on the use of desktop computers and software applications required by the new framework.
Accra is a great bustling city located in West Africa on the Gulf of Guinea. The WUSC office where I spent my first week of orientation is located in a suburb of Accra called Haatso (pronounced hawtcho) and our temporary accommodation at the Suma Court Hotel was a just a short but sweaty walk away. In our second week we joined the rest of the GEDP Project Team at the project office in East Legon, another suburb of Accra located not far from the University of Ghana campus.
While English is the language taught in school and the language of commerce in Ghana there are also many traditional languages spoken. Of these Twi (tchwee) is the most universally understood, although many people will speak another language unique to their region.
Today, day three of our in-country orientation, was an introduction to Twi for visitors. The first Twi word any visitor to Ghana will learn is “akwaaba” meaning welcome. This is as it should be; in my short time here I have found Ghanaians to be incredibly welcoming people.