Opportunities and challenges of tertiary level ICT-based science education in Ghana

Cullen, Jane; Ocloo, Augustine; Owusu, Kofi; Murphy, Kerry; Velasco, Maria; Davies, Sarah-Jane and Addae-Kyeremeh, Eric (2023). Opportunities and challenges of tertiary level ICT-based science education in Ghana. In: Education for Social & Environmental Justice: Diversity, Sustainability , Responsibility: UKFIET 17th Conference on International Education and Development, 07 Sep 2023 online; 12-14 Sep 2023 Oxford, UK, Oxford, UK.

Abstract

Ghana’s Free SHS Policy of 2017 has led to significant increases in upper secondary student numbers. In parallel, curriculum development across all education sectors is underlining policy, e.g. Ghana’s Educational Strategic Plan , for increasing the use of ICT-based learning and teaching, to embed ‘digital literacy’. Further, policy objectives to increase the proportion of students studying STEM subjects at tertiary level have created significant pressures on ‘brick and mortar’ science infrastructure, including laboratories, equipment, and practical science learning and teaching at tertiary level, as more students move on to university .

OpenSTEM Africa under the guidance of the MoE and a partnership between its agency CENDLOS and The Open University UK, has created a first set of applications in a Virtual Laboratory, alongside accompanying CPD materials. While these have been developed for SHS science students, through discussion with long-standing partners University of Ghana (UG) and University of Cape Coast (UCC), we all recognise their potential applicability for students and academics at tertiary level and we are now engaged in ‘test and learn’ (i.e. ‘applied research’ in Frascati terms (OECD 2015 ) in separate but related projects during 2023 at each university, focused on undergraduate sciences. UG have set up a campus-based PC-version of OpenSTEM Africa (Virtual Lab (ug.edu.gh)). The objective of both ‘test and learn’ projects is to develop and to challenge our collective understanding as to the effectiveness of the learning and teaching of practical science through virtual/digital means, to ascertain whether digital/virtual formats might improve accessibility, progression and begin to address inequities, such as the minority of young women engaging in most forms of STEM study (UNESCO 2017) and, on the basis of evidence that we collectively gather, if appropriate, to be able to develop this approach to science teaching and learning more widely across universities in Ghana.

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