12 July 2011 – Dorcas Tetteh

 

Glodies Traditional Restaurant

Left to back – Werner, Derek, Eric Mintah, Francis

Right to back – Dorcas, Catheriner, Vincent, Elliot

Through the computer we can have  easy communication because we can chat with our pen pals, relatives etc. A digital camera helps us to send pictures of ourselves, perhaps the person we want to communicate with has forgotten us. News – people communicate on the radio and this is how they do it. Maybe a radio presenter wants to talk to an M.P. (Minster of parliament) he/she will communicate through the radio.

We can share experiences through the radio, for example. A radio presenter will bring out a topic then he/she will give a telephone number. Everyone will call and bring out his/her opinion about that topic. Through the DVD player we can share our experiences. Maybe new album is out. We can express our ideas on television. A question will be asked and maybe I will call and answer it and win a prize.

Radio can help us to spread information in a fast and easy way. eg. maybe my brother is lost so I will go to the radio station and tell them my story. They will make an announcement for me. A printer can also help us to spread information through the newspaper, magazines. The more people that buy them the more the information is spread. Television also helps us to spread information through the news.

Dorcas Tetteh

Form 2 (Grade 8)

BASCO

Trotor, Ghana

I was very happy with Dorcas’s essay. It is by far the best essay I have ever had from a female student in Ghana. Yes her grammar, spelling and sentence construction need some more work but her ideas were completely original. She really thought about how ICT(Information and Communications Technologies) tools can make the world smaller.

Although she didn’t  have an opening and closing paragraph like we talked about in class she did use her outline well. She had three areas she wanted to discuss – easy communication, shared experiences and fast spread of information. 

-vc

12 July 2011 – Vincent Nyadedzer

ICT Tools are Making the World Smaller

ICT(Information and Communications Technologies) Tools have helped us to communicate more easily. Chatting through the compute allows us to chat with people all over the world. Through the use of ICT tools now you can send emails on the computer to another person in USA. You can also use the computer to send pictures, videos and music to your friends. If has made the world smaller because you can even communicate with your friends and family even when they are not close to you. Through the mobile phone you can also communicate with your friends if they are outside the country.

 

Eric Mintah, Vincent Nyadedzer

They have also helped us to share experiences. Through the use of satellite you can watch the world coup together even if your mom and you are not in the same country or if you are far away from the host country. You can even get information from on the radio of what is going on in another country. At the same time if our mom or dad is in another country they will also get the same news. The the use of these things the world is becoming smaller.

ICT tools have helped speed up the spread of information. Through the use of the internet you can send information to people when something has just happened. But in the olden days you would have to write a letter on paper, walk and give it to the person. Through eh use of phones you can send messages to your friends outside the country. But in the olden days you needed to walk before you could give the message to the person. Through the use of a PA system it allows people to know what is going on in the town if a person is far away. Today the world is in a computer age because the use of computers, radio and phones are everywhere and this has made the world smaller. Even now if you are holding a phone or sitting bet side a computer the world is in your hands.

ICT has effected my life because now I can talk on the phone to someone and feel like I am physically talking. These tools have also made my communication very easier and faster.

 

Vincent Nyadedzer Kwabena

Form 2 (grade 8)

BASCO

Trotor, Ghana

Vincent comes from a middle class home. He has had access to computers and internet in his home for a few years. He’s very good with computers and taking a special computer class with my counterpart, Eric Mintah. Vincent listened well in class when I invited Werner for a discussion of how ICT tools helped him to stay in touch with his family and know what is going on in Germany. His essay reflects some of those ideas.

12 July 2011 – Ago Catheriner

Communication

 In the ancient days, our forefathers used to walk to send information to others and also travel by foot but today dues to technology we have a device called the computer that is making the world smaller eg. Email, and chat. Another things is that there were no cars so our forefathers would walk a long distance to deliver and listen to messages. But today we can chat on the phone, and computer. Another thing is the mobile phone. Scientists have discovered mobiles that have made our life easier and faster. Now people can move from one place to another country. Also people can call their cousins in another country, anywhere in the world.

 Shared Experiences

Information is a fact that we learn. In the past years there was no radio in the world so people didn’t listen to the news. Later, if you wanted to listen to radio you would have to go to a far place where people have gathered – with the kings and queens. Another thins is the P.A, system, if people gathered they needed to speak loud so that all will hear them. So they used a machine called a P.A. system. Furthermore one thing about the P.A. system is that like out dooring people uses for loud music and add radio. There was no television in the world before so our fathers could not watch television but now we can watch television from all over the world. Another means is that people will be in a far place watching a football match this is played in another country and we can also see it. All these beautiful things mean that ICT(Information and Communications Technologies) is making the world smaller.

Ago Cahteriner (Girls Head Prefect)

Form 2 (Grade 8)

BASCO

Trotor, Ghana

 

Cahteriner attempted to do a compare and contrast essay. Although she didn’t hit the nail right on the head I felt she did a good job for her first attempt at such an essay.  She is a quiet studious girl and yet she managed to win the position of Girls Head Prefect in the elections this spring. Prefects help run the school and serve in various posts such as, Dining Hall Prefect, Grounds Prefect, Games Prefect and the Head Prefects (boys and girls).The Head Prefects manage them all.

-vc

7 July 2011 – Form 1 at the Vodafone Internet Cafe

I was so excited I woke 15 minutes before my 6:15 alarm. I took my bath, dressed, ate breakfast and organized the things I wanted to take to Koforidua. Werner got up. Time dragged and at 7:25 I couldn’t wait for them to come at 7:30 so I walked down to campus. I found two of Vida and William sitting on the pump at the bore hole. They sent two of their mates to get Deborah and Frank.

 

Up at the house I had bread with margarine and some cold sachet water. I know it sounds awful but the kids love bread and never get cold water. I also know we were going to Goldie’s for lunch and there they could fill their bellies.  On my way to get Eric I walked by them eating on the porch and I saw Frank give his second piece of bread to one of the water boys.

 

If it takes 1 person 10 minutes to get ready to leave, it takes 2 people 20 minutes etc. After what felt like an hour to me we were all ready to go. The mentors, Werner, Eric and I and the children, Frank, Vida, Deborah and William headed down the path to the junction. At the junction we were lucky enough to find a tro tro that we could all fit in. I held back as Werner, William, Deborah, Frank and Vida disappeared somewhere in the tro. I dubious that the tro would hold us all but the other passengers urged me to get in. The five of them were in the backseat meant for three, Eric was in the jump seat in front of them and I took a seat behind the driver. I think Werner might have felt like he was in a clown car.

 

When it came time to pay the mate only made me pay for 6 of us instead of seven.

 

On the ride to Kof I heard Eric telling the children about the Vodafone Internet Cafe. “It’s air conditioned!” “You will meet big men there.” “The connection is so fast!” I think Eric was just as excited as I was about this trip.

 

We arrived at Kof and the cafe safe and sound. When we entered the cafe I took the kids step by step through buying the time, getting their Username and password and logging in to the Vodafone network. I proudly introduced the kids and my fellow mentors and told the Vodafone employee about the contest.

 

The students successfully logged into their computers and we began our first task – signing up for an Email account. The tutorial they had watched at school had said it would only take 10 minutes to sign up for an account. No way, I thought. Because of my experiences in the library with newbies, I knew 10 minutes was way too optimistic! I planned 30 but even that turned out to be optimistic!

 

Boy oh boy did we all have trouble with the Email accounts. Everything imaginable happened. The students were slow typist but I wanted them to gain experience so we had them type the information requested. Once after Vida had filled everything out she clicked to get her account and the whole tab disappeared. Of course she had to start all over again. Werner was working with William in Gmail and they kept getting the message that this page is unavailable. Everyone had trouble with the hidden letters. If you can read them it means you are human and not some program registering many spam accounts. I guess we were programs because we failed time and time again to decipher the letters and numbers. When the student didn’t get the numbers correct then the registration page came back. They then had to reenter their passwords and remove default setting like, “keep me signed in” and “share my email address with advertisers”. Luckily all the info the typed didn’t have to be reentered!  After 50 minutes everyone had an email account and they had started sending messages to each other.

 

Werner sent them a congratulatory Email with a link to the trailer for the new Pirates movie. This was a good introduction to YouTube! I had a couple of things they could search for – cat and dolphin and guitar lessons. Then they had a free for all. Their interests were immediately apparent. William was watching shots from Wimbledon. Vida was watching a female Ghanaian pop star. Frank was watching football (soccer). Last, Deborah was watching a woman singer as well.

 

I pulled them away from YouTube to show them Wikipedia and the Daily Graphic (Ghana’s major daily newspaper) but after YouTube these sites were snoozers! Note to self: Next time show the students YouTube last.

 

The excursion was very satisfying to me. The kids gained concrete skills. The girls especially could manipulate the mouse better and navigate around the computer screen with more confidence. They saw three different types of websites as well as getting an email account. On a more abstract level I hope I showed them the collaborative nature of the internet and exposed them to a larger world. It’s funny how ICT tools are making the world smaller but also making an individual’s world larger!

 

-vc

William Terkerpety – Form 1 BASCO

5 July 2011

          Today the world is like a computer because the use of this tool (computer, radio and even phone are everywhere. These days’ people just hold the world in their pocket. The reason for me saying this is that the use of all the above mentioned age becoming common all over the earth.

Computers today are on source of communication tool used across the globe. To send information though the computer (Internet) is faster than traditional mail. Through the Internet you can send information and within two or three minutes you get the reply. This same tool helps us listen to music from all over the world. It helps send information in a form of action to people from far away, to do this people use video cameras, for example we could use the BASCO network to send videos of our school to Madam Vicky in the USA.

There are many tools that are making the world smaller. Not only the computer but also mobile phones are making the world smaller. Mobile phones or the telephone network can relay not only voice but also pictures and written information as well. Telephones communicate over land, sea and air sometimes using high frequency microwaves.

Not only computers and telephones are making the world smaller but also cameras (still photos and videos) are involved when sending pictures through the internet. The camera, on the other hand, works like the computer when talking about making pictures. The reason is that people can send information in a picture through the video camera. We are able to see some important people from the past e.g. Nelson Mandela, Kwame Nkruma and Martin Luther King Jr. When special events happen with the help of cameras we set information about these events.

The world is becoming smaller because when all these tools are used, the world is contained in a netbook. Me saying this is not a joke, because, how can people put this large word or earth in their own pocket? Phones are not very expensive. Now the world has become an information and communication age because all of our daily lives depend on television, radio and computer. And people use the phone more than all the rest. I can say that the world is contained in a mobile phone.

William Terkpertey

Form 1 (Grade 7)

BASCO

Trotor, ER

Ghana

19 May 2011 – Campaign Posters

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-vc

18 May 2011 – Vetting

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This evening we vetted the candidates for the prefectorial elections. Prefects are school leaders. There are various areas of leadership like the dining hall, the compound(or grounds), entertainment, and then the heads of the prefects the senior prefects. There is a male and a female for each position and then also an assistant for each position. These are elected positions but the candidates are screened or vetted before they are allowed to run. This is the way elections in Ghana are also held so this is a practical lesson in Ghanaian democracy.

The Headmaster, Senior Housemaster, Senior House Mistress, a representative from the teachers and me, a volunteer representative. We rated them on appearance, composure,verbal expression, knowledge and self confidence each aspect was worth 10 points. If the candidates earned an average of 25 pts or higher they were allowed to run for office. Although during the vetting the students were challenged that they didn’t follow the school rules they were not rated on this. Our headmaster once had a teacher who had faith in him, even though he didn’t follow all the rules, so this was applied to our vetting procedure as well.

The candidates were very different from American children. When they entered the room they greeted us, very quietly, then most waited until they were offered a seat.  After they were seated most waited with lowered eyes for the questions. Most had to be told more than once they needed to speak up so we could hear them.

The first candidate we interviewed, Vincent, surprised me. He was running for Senior prefect In class he is outspoken, often answering without being called on and eager to help other students in the lab. Here he set the pace for shy and quiet responses. He answered most of our questions with one sentence even when given a softball question – Tell us about yourself- he had very little to say.

My final score for him was 10 pts less than three of the other panel members.

Later on a boy, running for Dining Hall Prefect, came who looked us in they eyes while he waited for questions, spoke loudly as he answered the questions and said he wanted to be a doctor when asked his future plans. I scored him 10 pts higher then two of the other masters.

My cultural biases came through here. In Ghana respect, show by the lowered eyes, and humility, shown by not talking too much about your self are valued highly, even when going for a leadership position.

I am not sure all their shyness had to do with respect and humility because when i helped to vet the prefectorial candidates in Sandema the students were more outgoing. These JHS students are younger, self confidence usually grows from JHS to SHS. They High School students had a better command of the English language so spent less time understanding our questions and forming their answers.

Now that they have been vetted they will start their campaigns.

-vc

The photos in this post were taken after the fact. The head master saw me taking photos of the campaign posters and was so excited when I told him about blogging that he set up a mock vetting so I could also have photos of that.

-vc

31 March 2011 – New Life Orphanage

Last week I visited another SBIG (the NGO that brought the computers to my school), orphanage for the Peace Corps. Rob, the Peace Corps Training Office and Mary, the assistant director in charge of Computers, asked me to go the the other SBIG orphanages and talk to them about the benefits of having a Peace Corps volunteer and to check out the site for them. Lucky for me this school was in Cape Coast. First the ocean is beautiful there and second I could stay with Nancy the PCV(Peace Corps Volunteer) art teacher at Cape Coast School for the Deaf.

On Friday morning I called Derrick, the ICT teacher at New Life, and told him I was in Cape Coast. He said he was in a meeting and would come in 30 minutes. I grabbed my book. Went to Nancy’s living room and joked with her that I now had 1 ½ hours to read because a Ghanaian had said he would be here in 30 minutes.

Surprise! Thirty five minutes later Derrick called me and said he was in the main driveway at the Cape Coast School for the Deaf administration building.

The school was small and well maintained. There was housing for about 40 children. The classroom block contained three classrooms for grades 1-6. There was also an administration building. For me the most interesting part of the story is how the orphanage was founded.

Derrick’s mother, Ruby, started it about 14 years ago. As we drove back to Cape Coast Derrick told me the story.

He said he mother was a nurse and she worked for the government. In her job she saw so many orphans. I guess their situation moved her heart. One day she came home from work and announced to the family that she was quitting her job and starting an orphanage.

Imagine the uproar from her 3 daughters and her son Derrick. Like an American family they all chimed in with why this was a very bad idea. “We all thought she was crazy” Derrick confided. “ You know we all had our own things, our work, our families.”

But she did it anyway. She had land and started small. One building was all she had at first. It remains on campus as the administration building today. Small small she got all her children interested in her project. Derrick said she would come to us because she needed things or help at the orphanage and pretty soon we were all as committed as she was.

In 2005 Mama Ruby had a  stroke. Derrick, her son, and Richard, her grandson, took over the daily work at the orphanage. Derrick says he will bring his digital camera to school about once week and take photos and videos. Then he brings them to Mama Ruby and puts a smile on her face.

They have added the classroom block and the dorm since 2005 and last year they were picked from a handful of orphanages by SBIG to receive computers. Not only are they using the lab to teach their own students but two nearby schools come and use the lab each week as well. They charge a small maintenance fee – 10 pesewa – for each child who comes from the  other schools.

To me Mama Ruby epitomizes the spirit of my blog – One person doing something to make a change in the world.

-vc

 

19 March 2011 – A Day

 

Got up early this morning and started marking the Form 3 MOCK BECE (Basic Education Certificate Examination). The BECE will be given April 11 – 18. The results of this exam will pretty much determine if and where a student will go to High School.

Our students took the 5th set of mock exams this week. They will take tests in 8 subjects. Let me try to name them all – Integrated Science, Maths, English, Twi, Social Studies, Religion and Moral Education, ICT, Technical Arts and Agriculture. Oh that’s 9.

I was happy with the results.Through out the term I have kept an Excel spreadsheet with their results from each mock. I compared the results of each mock with the first one.   There were 5 As(80-100 is an A in Ghana).  At least 10 students increased their marks by 20-36 points and many more gained 10 – 20 points.  Less than 10 students lost points

As happy as I was with the students results I was equally frustrated with the exam itself. The school purchased a set of mock exams created by Ghana Education Service (GES). In the set were 50 question papers, 50 answer sheets that can be corrected by computer and the answers to the test for the teacher.

The answers for three multiple choice questions were wrong wrong wrong! On two more questions I could have argued for two of the answers as correct. On the essay questions students were asked to name three advantages of the Internet. The answer sheet listed uses of the Internet. Last the students were shown an Excel spreadsheet. They were asked to calculate the numbers for the population of Ghana in regions. They were actually told to do the math and not to write the excel formulas to calculate the sums. What made me crazy is that I repeated at least a billion times that I don’t want the answers when we work with Excel but I want the formula. The purpose of Excel is to let the computer do the math for you.

I was not a classroom teacher in the US. I never dealt with standardized test that end so I don’t know if there are errors on standardized tests in the US as well but it sure made me tear my hair out.  The other problem with the wrong answers is that Ghanaians respect authority (too much from my American point of view), and the mark on the test is so important that sometimes my counterpart will want to teach the wrong answers. We argue and I think my brassy American attitude convinced him that the students needed to know the right answers regardless of the test or what the authorities said.

Before I returned the test I wrote a small congratulations note to each student who had improved his/her score by more than 20 points and for the A and B students. This is SOP for me but I had begun to wonder if the students appreciated it until the midterms this year. One boy from Form 2 came to me and said “Madam I had an 85 on my paper and so did Christopher but you wrote “Excellent Work” on his and but not on mine.

All of this took me until 3:00 pm. I had taken a bath in the morning but the day was hot and muggy and I wanted one before I took a nap. Drats no water. So I took 3 500 ml sachets of drinking water and emptied them into my bucket and took a sponge bath in my room. It’s nice to rinse the heat of the afternoon off before laying down. I have been taking a sponge bath in the evenings as well. Then I have the fan so my damp skin feels so cool as the fan blows over it. Who needs an air conditioner!

The day was steamy I used three hankies to wipe my brow etc while I was marking my exams but just as I lay down a small breeze came through the windows. Then the breeze turned into a wind and by 5:30 pm the cloud cover had dampened the heat of the day.

As I write now it is raining. I can hear the rain falling gently on the roof and rustling through the leaves in the forest outside my window.

We have had rain 5 out of 7 days this week. I think the rainy season is back – Hip hip hooray!

To add icing to the cake Werner is back from a two week vacation with his Auntie and Brother. Werner is one of the German volunteers. We have bonded over books and movies.

All is well at BASCO.

Sound sleep.

-vc