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Wolfgang´s Social Sabbatical in Ghana, Part 7

We really worked hard in the past days to come up with possible solutions for our challenge: How to scale the rollout of IT training to teachers (iTeach).

Initially we spend some time discussing fundraising. But then we changed this and put it on low priority. Why? Every project asks for more money, fundraising is serious business. Given we are only two weeks here we started to ask what can be reached with the same resources. We did not want to join the choir of “we do not have enough resources and that is why we are stuck.”

Number one, and that was the obvious one, we propose to use much more content which is already out there on the internet. There are free MOOCs, there is YouTube, there are many other things. So far all teaching content has been created by the two full time employees of Dreamoval foundation, Mina and Keren. If they put together in a digestible way what is out there (using free content builder tools) then they can free up quite some of their capacity to work on the scalability topic.

Second, so far the curriculum covers five days. Great for the teachers, but none of them will be capable afterwards to teach all of this content to other teachers. Especially if they are real beginners. That is why we propose to split the content into two courses, a basic course (2 days), followed by an advanced course (another 2 days, preferably delivered online). The basic course will include an introduction into the use of the computer/laptop, educate how to leverage search capabilities, E-Mail and Social Media, and last motivate and explain the value of Excel, Word, and PPT. The advanced course then does the deep dive. This content should be teachable after attending each course.

Third, a functioning multiplier concept will be key for success. So our proposal is that every attendee of the base course will be asked to pass the knowledge on to at least 3 other teachers. Only then they will be eligible for the advanced course, other incentives can be thought of (e.g. certificates help to be promoted to the next level). This will be checked through certifications which can either be done online or in cooperation with the regional representative of the Ghana National Association of Teachers. Dreamoval anyway cooperates with them, they are the ones who so far select the teachers. They are present in all regions, in all districts. So they have the reach to do this. We spoke to them at their headquarters here in Accra and visited a regional center on our trip towards the west. They take iTeach very seriously and will help in every possible way.

We propose as well that only those teachers are eligible to the courses who can prove that they have access to a computer afterwards, either personally, at their school or whatever. This maybe sounds somewhat brutal but multiplying will not work otherwise. We spoke to several teachers as reported, and only those with this pre-condition did pass on their knowledge afterwards. The others had the great experience of the class but more or less already forgotten most of the content.

Fourth, we created a “heatmap” which shows the density of teachers per the 10 regions in Ghana, correlated with the availability of internet (data density). This gives an indication on how to come to a better structured roll-out. So far one region per year has been tackled, chosen more or less randomly. If our suggestion is followed, then we start in the regions with the highest density and expand from there. Thus more teachers can be reached – and success creates success. When sharing with the Dreamoval team they very much liked it. Data always is a convincing argument. Don´t ask how difficult it was to get to this data, this in general is a real issue here in Ghana.

Five, we strongly propose to change to a decentralized approach – in the sequence the heatmap proposes. So far all trainings have taken place in one week in August in a college here in Accra. Teachers travelled to Accra, all has been paid for. We found out that there is another local NGO called “techAide” which accomplished to set-up 70 computer training labs allover Ghana (EduLabs) in the course of the last 10 years. Dreamoval needs to interact with them to come up with a least 10 co-operations – one per region. Then trainings could be held there, participants would have a much shorter distance to travel. And they would be even willing to cover the travel costs under this circumstances, this we validated with the groups we talked to. Two Dreamoval instructors could travel to one location and give 2 trainings there in one week (as we reduced the course duration). So instructors travel to the classes, not the other way round. This is far more efficient. Instead of 60 attendees travelling to Accra for one class 30 teams of 2 instructors could go and teach 60 classes (2 day course).

And instead of one course in one week in Accra, Dreamoval could announce a “Month of iTeach” in August, so the instructor resources could be spread over a longer period of time. We initiated a first meeting with Dreamoval and techAide, it went well, so it looks promising.

If not all regions can be covered by this EduLabs, there are other options for the more rural areas: There are “trolleys” with a number of laptops, all pre-charged, which can be used. A technical device, also developed by TechAide, could be set in the middle. It is prefilled with all the content and creates connectivity within a 20 meter radius, so it more or less simulates the internet. While talking with the Ghana National Association of teachers even the possibility was discussed to own a bus which serves as mobile IT lab. More costly, but not completely out of reach.

Of course as good corporate SAP citizens we brought all proposals to a proper PPT presentation we used in our discussions with the team. I just highlighted the main aspects here in written form. All in all we think we made proposals which are rather simple to be implemented, anything else would not work to our judgement. And there are several factors built in which help to scale: reduced course duration and easier content creation, de-central rollout with instructors travel to the classes, multiplier concept, cooperation with other NGOs. If only a few are implemented it could already make a difference.

Let´s see to which extent this works out. We have a bit the McKinsey-Feeling right now: Flying in, work on a strategy, present it to the clients, fly out again. We will keep in contact with Francis, Keren and Mina to check the progress.

One more thing to mention: We did present our proposals today to the management team of Dreamoval. Angelique, Franz and I were truly touched by the kind words they found to thank us. It was expressed to eloquently, so warm, so human, wow. I am still emotional while I write this down.

This is not yet the end, there is one more blog to come.

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