ICT Education, CARE Computers and
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
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,
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
Samuel Dowouna, Accra, May 10, 2007, Ghanadot