from MASAHUDU KUNATEH in Accra, Ghana
ACCRA, (CAJ News) – GHANA’S efforts to address the digital divide among the country’s youths are paying off.
Among pivotal programmes is the Girls-In-ICT Programme, a flagship project introduced by the Ministry of Communication and Digitalisation in 2017.
Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, the Minister of Communication and Digitalisation, said more than 9 000 girls in junior high schools and senior high schools across the country had benefited from the programme since its implementation.
The programme, which is an international initiative adopted in 2012 by all International Telecommunications Union (ITU) Member States, is aimed at exposing young girls to opportunities in the ICT sector through mentorship workshops, boot camps, and open-day activities to prepare them for ICT-related professions in future.
Ghana was working towards increasing the number of women in ICT by offering mentorship training and educational programmes for them.
Owusu-Ekuful said the country was hoping to build a more diverse and inclusive technology industry as well as support the development of the West African country’s digital economy.
Although the participation of women in ICT in the country remained low with a significant gender gap in terms of access to technology and contribution to the digital economy, she called for continuous efforts from all sectors of society to promote Girls in ICT and encourage young women to pursue careers in technology.
“The ICT world provides great career opportunities for girls if they are given the needed support and mentorship. So, the programme has organized boot camps and programming and coding training for girls from rural communities”, Owusu-Ekuful told CAJ News Africa in an interview.
Under the programme, laptops and other gadgets have been provided to girls who excelled in the study of ICT, Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) courses.
MTN Ghana has answered the government’s call for support of Girls-in-ICT by committing GHC12 million (US$1 million) over three years for the programme.
Adwoa Wiafe, MTN Ghana’s Chief Corporate Services and Sustainability Officer, said, “We are providing support for the ministry for the girls in ICT to improve and enhance their knowledge and skills in ICT and ensure gender equality.”
She said male youth have always had an advantage over their female counterparts.
“There are various factors as to why women cannot play or play the desired role in that area. So, we are trying to close that gap. That is why we are focusing on the girls for now,” Wiafe said.
Another major step taken is the building and upgrading of schools to deliver the STEM education for children, especially girls.
Gifty Ampofo Twum, Deputy Minister of Education in charge of Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET), said the government was building ten STEM Senior high schools in addition to extensively restructuring senior high schools with the necessary learning instruments in the laboratories.
She stated that the government is constructing 20 Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics (STEAM) centres across the country.
“The good news about these STEAM centres is that right from Secondary schools our children can learn coding, electronics, robotics, game development and character design,” Twum said.
– CAJ News