Social / Feature




ICT Education, CARE Computers and funding
Samuel Dowuona

Over the years, so much has been said about the need to inculcate ICT training into our basic school curriculum. Even though ICT education had become more of a necessity, much of what has been done about it in Ghana has remain just talk, talk and nothing more.

Indeed very few schools do have computer labs for students. Most of them are private expensive schools that leaves the greater majority of Ghanaian school children out of the ICT development bar. Part of the problem usually cited by politicians is lack of funding. But government after government does get funds for politically convenient projects to the detriment of this all important investment to prepare our children for the future.

But all that is about to change, because a young girl dreamt and decided to live her dream by helping Ghanaian schools with computers and internet connectivity to participate in ICT.

CARE Computers for Developing Countries is a charity organization that resulted from the dream of 11-year old Phoebe Hagan of Chesswood Middle School in Worthing, West Sussex, UK. Just for the records, Phoebe is half Ghanaian, half British.

After five years of nurturing that dream, CARE recently shipped 800 recycled computers with printers, scanners and other accessories to Ghana to distribute to 20 schools. The shipment was only made possible with a 10,000 pounds (US$20,000) financial support from British Oxygen Corporation (BOC) Edwards, where Jib Hagan, father of the dream girl of CARE, works.

But before BOC Edwards came on board to help, Jib had to spend about 17,000 pounds (US$34,000) of his own hard earned money to wipe all donated computers to British Ministry of Defense standards using IBM Security Data Disposal (SDD) and install appropriate software (LINUX UBUNTU/RED HAT) into the computers before they are ready for shipment.

Jib did all that for charity because each of the 800 computers, which are in Ghana at the moment are already being distributed to schools free of charge.

BOC Edwards has a policy of matching up what their staff members raise for charity. The company would not give money to a charity cause unless the one championing that cause has been able to raise some money by him or herself.

For instance, when I met with BOC Edwards Product Director, Malcolm Forest, he told me that “some of our staff members go on charity walks and marathons to raise money and we match up whatever they are able to raise with equal amounts to give to charities of their choice.”

Malcolm would admit that Jib’s cause, which is CARE Computers, is by far the biggest charity cause to be undertaken by a single staff member in the history of the company and “it seems Jib is set to attract more financial support from our charity fund as his commitment to CARE keeps getting bigger and bigger.”

The company has also offered a store house for Jib to store the thousands of computers that are coming in from all corners of Sussex and other parts of the England. In fact the company itself donated hundreds of computers to CARE.

Malcolm tells me that BOC Edwards is more than happy to support Jib and CARE all the way as long as Jib remains a staff member. But the help would only come in the form of a match up to what Jib and for that matter CARE is able to raise by itself.

This is where CARE faces the challenge. Lots of computers, printers, scanners and accessories ready to be shipped to Ghana, but not enough funding for the recycling and shipment.

Jib also tells me that back home in Ghana more funding is needed to sustain the project. Currently the CARE team who man the Service and Distribution Centre in Ghana are not on salary even though they do it full time. Meanwhile there is need to hire and train more computer technicians and teachers to sustain the schools project.

Jib has paid his dues by donating US$34,000 of his own money into this noble cause, not to even talk about how many computers he has been able to gather and make ready for shipment to Ghana and the man hours he had to spend doing all this work. He tells me that it takes at least 250 minutes to completely wipe one hard drive. He has wiped over a thousand hard drives already.

I had the opportunity to meet with the head teacher of Chesswood Middle School, David Newnham , where Jib’s daughters Phoebe and Alice, the main dreamers behind CARE go to school. Dave told me that it would have cost the school something between 20 and 25 pounds to scrap every single computer but it is now easier giving them to CARE.

I impressed it upon him to consider giving a fraction of the money they would have paid to the scrap company to CARE to assist in the recycling and shipment of the computers to Ghana.

Dave, who is also the Chairman of the Board of Trustees for CARE, was more than happy to oblige his support but asked to be given time to tie a few loose ends. But Dave is also willing to welcome selected persons from Ghana to be trained in the UK to man the computer centers in the schools in the Ghana.

He is even willing to arrange for expert staff to move from UK to Ghana to assist with training of technicians as well.

At Lyndhurst First School, where the two girls had their primary education, the head teacher, Ann Lawrenson made copies of the CARE registration and operations documents and also made copies of the correspondence between the two girls and British Treasury Chancellor Gordon Brown to include in an application to the British Council and other bodies to support CARE financially.

Ann is a trained facilitator of exchange programmes between institutions in the UK and other countries. She has done some work with the British Council in the past and hopes that her application on behalf of CARE would yield some support.

CARE is also in the process of striking a deal with Smart Cartridges in Scotland to provide refillable cartridges for the printers that come with the computers. That way the schools would not have to dispose off their cartridges but rather refill them, which is more cost effective.

That is what they are willing to do in addition to all the computers they would be providing in the subsequent years. There is a need for a counter effort by Ghanaians both in the Diaspora and at home by way of funding to sustain the CARE Computers project.

It should not take much for the ministry of Education, Science and Sports and its development partners to put permanent staff of trainers and technicians on salary to man and sustain the project in the various schools and institutions.

I am aware that the ministry and the Vice President’s wife, Hajia Ramatu Mahama, have provided a list of schools and institutions to benefit from the CARE project. The ministry and the Veep’s wife should be seen making an effort to either raise or provide funding to support the project and ensure that it is sustained.

But there is plus to whatever funds the ministry or the Veep’s wife provides. The plus would be for BOC Edwards to match up every amount raised or provided by the Ministry or the Veep’s wife with equal amounts. But that money must first be raised from home before BOC Edwards would do the match up.


Institutions in the UK are willing to help but we need to be seen doing something to sustain the project by ourselves. That would encourage them to bend over backwards and help to keep this all important project going.


For Ghanaians in the Diaspora, I know some of them do support all kinds of project back home. But this is very important for the future of our kids. It would be great for them to reach out to CARE and provide the little support they can, especially with funding for the shipment of the computers. You can always help CARE at www.carec4dc.com.

We owe it to our children to sustain this project, especially in the light of the fact that we have talked much about getting ICT into the schools in the rural communities but had done nothing much until the advent of CARE Computers.

Samuel Dowouna, Accra, May 10, 2007, Ghanadot






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