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https://yourfreeworld.wordpress.com
https://www.change.org/p/petition-for-mandating-use-of-free-and-open-source-software-in-new-education-policy-2016
DankwahM-InfoctessUEW, Ghana.

Petitioning the Ministry Of Education, Ghana

Petition for Mandating Use of Free and Open Source Software in Educational Policy of Ghana-2017.

Note: This draft is adapted by DankwahM, a FOSS activism group and Infoctess-UEW, a students’ association based at UEW, Ghana from an original draft document prepared by Krishnakant Mane, Prof Nagarjuna, Rushabh, J T Dsouza, Siji Sunny, Arun Khan, Pralhad C, Milind Oka and GNU/Linux Group, Mumbai, India on behalf of all FOSS activists.

Recommendations on National Education Policy (NEP)
This is a draft of suggestions/recommendations to be presented to the Government of Ghana’s Ministry of Education on the National Education Policy (NEP) for Ghanaian citizens.

This draft is adopted from Krishnakant Mane, Prof Nagarjuna, Rushabh, J T Dsouza, Siji Sunny, Arun Khan, Pralhad C, Milind Oka and GNU/Linux Group, Mumbai, on behalf of Ghanaian students by DankwahM, a Ghana-based advocacy group.

This draft particularly focuses on recommendations regarding ICT in education.
Note that this is a work in progress and changes will be added as per feedback from other organisations/ individuals.
Preface:
Information Communication Technologies (ICT) is the pivot and backbone of our lives in this digital age.
Education is one of the most important aspects affected by ICT.
The said sector depends heavily on computers and other such devices like Tablets and more so on the software (programs) and the Operating System on which these machines run.
There are two types of software systems available as choices. Free (as in freedom) often referred to as Open source software, and proprietary software. These two systems differ in the way they are provided to the end-users, development practices and amount of freedom users have with the technology.
While Free and Open source software gives everyone the permission to use, understanding and make copies with or without modifications, the proprietary software only allows user to use a single copy on a single machine without any permission to understand, modify or make copies for personal or professional reasons even though license has been paid for.
There are several issues governing what kind of Software and OS should be used in education. This document focuses on these issues and will make recommendations on software and OS to be used in educational institutes’ syllabus and administration.
FOSS as the mandatory solution:
As mentioned in Preface, it becomes obvious that Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) should be made mandatory in education as a government policy.
As a matter of fact, almost all proprietary programs and OS have free software replacements, some being even better.
This report lists strong reasons for such a recommendation in the following sections.
Free of charge to download:
All Free software is free of charge to download, although commercial support may be purchased from individual companies.
The fact that downloading and making copies of Free software is not charged, makes it an extremely cost effective replacement for proprietary counterparts.
This has a serious implication on procuring technologies in education.
Firstly a lot of public money can be saved and used for better purposes within educational institutes itself.
Secondly such cost effectiveness also has an effect on the fees (note that schools and colleges have to pay heavy for buying proprietary license copies of software, the same is compensated through high fees ).
Ghana being a country where right to education is a rule, we must realize that poor people can’t afford high fees which essentially denies them good quality education.
Since FOSS replacements are available, for example Libre Office or Open office for Microsoft Office, Firefox or Chromium for Internet Explorer, GIMP for Photoshop, GNUKhata for Tally etc, there is no reason why institutions should prefer closed and proprietary software.
There are plenty of examples as proofs of concept and success, including the Kerala Model in India which has proved that the cost of education can be brought down to a great extent using Free Software.
In addition there are other international examples like Extremadura in Spain on a bigger scale and high success using FOSS in education.
Refer: http://www.theinquirer.net/inquirer/news/2265108/spains-extremadura-government-switches-40-000-pcs-to-linux-and-open-source-software
Free to customize and localize:
The very principle of free software is to freely customize software.
All Free software thus can be altered to suit local requirements.
This also includes translating such FOSS programs in Ghanaian languages.
This becomes very important culturally because education is many a times determined by local cultural factors.
Language is also a major issue, given that some Ghanaian populations are more comfortable learning in their own language.
Since the FOSS licenses like GPL allow and encourage improvements, government can dedicate organizations/ institutes to alter free software products and even localize them. Dedicated funding can be allocated for such work.
Such an arrangement will not just help utilize financial resources in a justified way rather than spending on costly licenses, but also generate lot of employment in such technical and semi-technical areas.
Furthermore if we have to spread digital empowerment in the semi-urban and rural areas of the country, then such localized versions are a must have and FOSS is the only way we can achieve this on a large scale without a lot of financial overhead.
Importance in ICT education:
The ability to study and customize the software has particular importance in the field of ICT education. Research has proved that if students can study and modify already mature and professional quality programs, they learn standard programming practices and acquire high degree of professionalism by learning from senior experts and by seeing existing source code and also learn from community.
Using proprietary software only makes them users of existing languages with no scope for their own ideas as would-be software engineers.
In short just like medical students have to learn human/animal anatomy to become good doctors, good engineers must have the freedom to see the insides of Operating Systems (OS) or other software such as programming languages.
Most of the IT companies today are using Open source for almost all their work, thus making it even more important for universities to stay in sync with the industry trends.
Ease and comfort of use:
There is a popular misconception that FOSS OS or related programs are difficult, command line oriented and uncomfortable to be used.
Such a wrong notion stems from the fact that we have been only exposed to proprietary software for a long time. More over even if we use FOSS in daily life (android for example is an Open Source OS on Most mobiles), we are not aware of it. Most big organizations including commercial enterprises especially those concerning Internet based services use FOSS. Several schools and colleges also possess dedicated labs for Free Software.

There is enough evidence that FOSS is not just easy to use but also very user -friendly (sometimes more user friendly than proprietary counterparts).
Add the fact that GNU/Linux is totally virus free and developed in a transparent way. All that it takes is a persistence of use of FOSS.

Refer: http://www.iasptk.com/supreme-court-ordered-courts-across-india-switch-ubuntu/
In fact as discussed in all the previous sections Free Software, also referred to as Free and Open Source Software must not just be preferred but made mandatory. A rare exception can be made where a Free Software is not up to the requirement of a certain task or some job which some proprietary software in its latest version is able to do. Such a comparison should be well justified and enough reasons should be given as to why a free software can’t be used. Even in a situation where such an exception is made, the government must take active steps to bring a free software replacement to the required standard by funding development of such programs.

This petition will be delivered to:
Ministry Of Education, Ghana
Hon Minister ………Matthew…Opoku Prempeh…………………

FOSS
MOE
National Education Policy

DankwahM started this petition with a single signature, and now has …. Supporters (needed to reach 400)

https://www.change.org/p/petition-for-mandating-use-of-free-and-open-source-software-in-new-education-policy-2016

©2016, Change.org, Inc. Certified B Corporation

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With regard to the current stalemate Ghanaian Senior High School (SHS) Education is in, I would want to make a few suggestions as well as pose some questions, answers to which could help prevent this trend from repeating in the future. First, I suggest the Ghana Education Service (GES) help by adapting some lessons from other developing countries, in both Africa and worldwide especially with regards to political interference in the education process.
Secondly, I suggest the 2nd year students can be made to vacate the school premises for their respective homes since they are beneficiaries of the PSI-DL initiative. Thus they should be already accustomed to learning via television and radio, one thing that could be of immense help with regard to the 1st year students’ accommodation problem temporarily. This is because the three year groups (fourth, third and second years are pursuing a different curriculum hence one of such groups could be made to (sacrifice) one year of their program in order to allow the current (2010-2011) first years remain accommodated on campus to pursue the (old curriculum), as I call the curriculum that did not include much of the PSI-DL facilities. Can we know the official position of the CRDD on this and can anything be done on the current curriculum, can it be modified to make use of the affordances of ICTs?
Such a move and other ICT-enhanced educational projects can be made sustainable. Perhaps, some strategies need to be developed for eventual adaptation of the two curricula to ensure continuance and sustainability of ICT mediated SHS education. PTA bodies should perhaps form a national coalition of some sort or aid in the development of strong civil society organizations (CSOs) for advocacies on a national platform as well as help the government with regard to the current crisis.
The Mexicans have a strong SHS system, leveraging upon the affordances of ICTs and other innovative platforms to enhance their SHS system. Same can be said of China, the China TV University System(1). With regard to costs, such systems elsewhere have also achieved cost-effectiveness through economies of scale.
Is there equity of access to ICTs in education in Ghana? At least we can agree that quite a considerable number of households in Ghana own either a radio set or TV or both. Nonetheless, we should as a country heed the words of Bikas Sanyal, UNESCO, International Institute for Educational Planning,” Until computers are available at home, a nationwide network of Community Learning Centers should be set up stocked with computer laboratories with broadband access and trained staff to access online distance learning courses”. This indeed is a clarion call we must heed to ensure global competitiveness.
On enhancing access, Ms Tinio alludes to research from Perraton, H. and C. Creed,“Applying New Technologies…”, p. 38-39. …”One exception is the television-based project Telesecundaria… which in 1997-98 was serving over 750,000 junior secondary students in 12,000 centres in Mexico”.( 2)

Thus the services of Instructional Designers can be contracted to help in further gravitation of the other courses or subjects if we want to see to the needs of the remaining batches (2010-2013) of SHS students until they are phased out of the system. The Americans have done this so we can also learn from them. (3)
Specifically of computers and the Internet, Prof. Blurton makes an argument that could apply to other ICTs especially television thus, “[w]hen considering whether ICT is “cost-effective” in educational settings, a definitive conclusion may not be possible for a variety of reasons. However, when considering the alternative of building more physical infrastructure, the cost savings to be realized from sharing resources, and the societal price of not providing access, ICT as a means of enabling teaching and learning appears to be an attractive and necessary alternative.”(4)
Such interventions “are more cost-efficient the larger their audience since the high cost of production is distributed over a larger viewer base while no staff expenditures are made for learner support”(5)

References

1 In Asia, the 44 radio and TV universities in China (including the China Central Radio and Television University), Universitas Terbuka in Indonesia, and Indira Ghandi National Open University have made extensive use of radio and television, both for direct class teaching and for school broadcasting, to reach more of their respective large populations. For these institutions, broadcasts are often accompanied by printed materials and audio cassettes.
Victoria Tinio, “ICTs IN EDUCATION”, p.14

2 Victoria Tinio, “ICTs IN EDUCATION”, p.19
3 While virtually every educational institution in North America now includes a service department charged with assisting instructors with course development, in all but exceptional cases, these departments have not disrupted the traditional breakdown of roles and responsibilities for course design and development.
http://highereducationmanagement.wordpress.com/2009/10/08/500-million-digital-media-for-online-higher-ed/
4 Blurton, C.,“New Directions of ICT-Use in Education”, p. 24.
5 Victoria Tinio, “ICTs IN EDUCATION”, p.20

The New Media ethos: perceptions of the Ghanaian teacher Higher Education student:

The major questions we seek to address are  how aware of the New Media ethos the Ghanaian teacher education college student is; How the Ghanaian teacher-educational system provides the student with knowledge regarding internet technologies (new media forms) and their relevance to education, new media adaptations and the financing and development of digital infrastructures among others. We want to see if the system of Higher Education (HE) in Ghana sees technology as phenomenal in that it can guarantee an unprecedented level of access, a new form of right and the appropriate response by stakeholders in education to this.

… we assess the philosophy of Education without Boundaries, Foundations of Instructional Design and Issues in Instructional Design with respect to Ghanaian HE among other things…