Data from the Afrobarometer Round 8 (2019) survey in Ghana shows a lack of access to devices, the Internet, and reliable electricity, especially in rural and poor households.

This suggests that many students – especially those living in rural or poor households – will find it difficult or impossible to participate in the e-learning initiatives because they don’t have access to the necessary devices, to the Internet, or to reliable electricity.

These findings point to a need to prioritize radio and television programs in the short run and invest in expanded access to online resources for the longer haul.

Summary

To try to ensure continuous teaching and learning while schools are shut down as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ministry of Education (MoE) through the Ghana Education Service (GES) has introduced virtual learning platforms.

Televised (Ghana Learning TV) and online (icampus) programs, along with a radio reading program, are to provide students the opportunity to continue studying their core subjects – mathematics, English, science, and social studies – as well as selected electives (Graphic, 2020; Myjoyonline, 2020; News Ghana, 2020).

As in many other African countries (Krönke, 2020), these virtual platforms are intended to help ensure inclusive and equitable access to and participation in education at all levels.

The question is how many students will be able to access them. Data from the Afrobarometer Round 8 (2019) survey in Ghana suggest that many students – especially those living in rural or poor households – will find it difficult or impossible to participate in these e-learning initiatives because they don’t have access to the necessary devices, to the Internet, or to reliable electricity.

These findings point to a need to prioritize radio and television programs in the short run and invest in expanded access to online resources for the longer haul.

Afrobarometer surveys

Afrobarometer is a pan-African, nonpartisan survey research network that provides reliable data on African experiences and evaluations of democracy, governance, and quality of life. Seven rounds of surveys were completed in up to 38 countries between 1999 and 2018. Round 8 surveys in 2019/2020 are planned in at least 35 countries.

Afrobarometer conducts face-to-face interviews in the language of the respondent’s choice with nationally representative samples.

The Afrobarometer team in Ghana, led by the Ghana Center for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana), interviewed 2,400 adult Ghanaians between 16 September and 3 October 2019. A sample of this size yields country-level results with a margin of error of +/-2 percentage points at a 95% confidence level. Previous surveys were conducted in Ghana in 1999, 2002, 2004, 2008, 2012, 2014, and 2017.

Key findings ▪

Large majorities of Ghanaian households have radios (83%) and televisions (76%). Despite large rural disadvantages, radios and TVs are common even in rural households (76% and 62%, respectively). ▪ Most Ghanaians (93%) either own or live in a household where someone else owns a mobile phone. However, only 45% of these phones have access to the Internet, and thus to online learning programs. In rural areas, fewer than one-third (31%) of mobile phones have access to the Internet.

▪ Fewer than three in 10 Ghanaian households (28%) have a computer. Among rural and poor households, only about one in seven (14%) have a computer.

▪ Six out of 10 Ghanaians (61%) never or rarely (“less than once a month”) use the Internet. Among rural and poor respondents, fewer than one in four go online at least “a few times a month.” ▪ Seven in 10 Ghanaian households (71%) enjoy reliable electricity from the national grid, though this proportion is smaller among rural (59%) and poor (55%) households. An additional 5% of all households use other sources of electricity, such as solar panels, batteries, or generators.

▪ Lack of access to devices, the Internet, and reliable electricity, especially in rural and poor households, points to difficulties that many students would have in participating in MoE/GES e-learning programs.

Access to communications devices Afrobarometer asked survey respondents whether they personally own or, if not, whether someone else in their household owns certain communications devices that would be needed to access e-learning programs.

While the survey interviews only adults (aged 18 or older), findings provide an overview of the resources to which school-age children might have access at the household level.

Most Ghanaian adults either own a mobile phone (87%) or live in households where someone else owns a mobile phone (6%). Large majorities also say they or someone else in their household owns a radio (83%) and a television (76%). In contrast, fewer than three in 10 (28%) say their household has a computer (Figure 1).

Full Report

Access to virtual learning platforms in Ghana-Afrobarometer dispatch-20july20(1)

374 | Mavis Zupork Dome and Daniel Armah-Attoh

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