When asked what inspires him as a teacher, Akoto said, “Making sure [my students] understand [the curriculum] and [that they] never lose hope [because] they don’t have computers.” This is no easy task, but Akoto rises to the challenge. ICT is a compulsory subject for students from primary stage onwards, and though Betenase M/A hasn’t had computers since 2011, the young students still must pass the national exam to move on to senior high school. They sit for the same exams as their mates in better-equipped public and private schools.
Official Ghana school syllabi are rarely modified and require teachers, such as Akoto, to educate students on the computer system, unit, and monitor. Students must also know how to set up hardware and boot a computer and take written exams that test their memorization skills. In the case of Betenase, few students receive top scores. Only one in Akoto’s school received an A in ICT in the previous term.
Research conducted in 2014 by Results for Development Institute, with the Ghana Center for Democratic Dialogue, revealed that though private schools cost about 54% more per student than public schools, private high school education is still considered more desirable.
With Akoto’s new-found fame, things are starting to look up for the teacher and his school. He was invited to be a guest of Microsoft at their convention in Singapore. Among the attendees were 400 educators and school leaders from 91 countries. Any proceeds benefit the Microsoft Certified Educator Program for professional development. Additionally, Amira Alharthi, a postgraduate researcher in the School of Mathematics at University of Leeds, who read about Akoto, decided to donate a laptop to the school. Akoto assures that others have also promised to donate computers, as well, including five desktop computers for the school and a personal computer for Akoto from NIIT Ghana, an IT training school.
As staff and students of Betenase M/A JHS receive their first few computers, it’s important to remember the people who brought attention to these issues, including the response from Cameroonian Tech entrepreneur Rebecca Enonchong (@africatechie). She and others on her timeline have followed up with replies, comments, and suggestions directed at international ICT gurus, tech enthusiasts, and individuals on and outside the continent, Microsoft Africa included.