Asare-Konadu Yamoah — President of GPA
Asare-Konadu Yamoah — President of GPA

Laptops with in-built learning materials: Don’t abolish hardcopy textbooks - Publishers propose

The Ghana Publishers Association (GPA) has prescribed the use of tablets and laptops alongside textbooks in second cycle schools instead of abolishing the latter altogether.

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That, it said, was because the country did not have the infrastructure in the regions and districts to handle such digital facilities in terms of uploading content and replacement, and repairs, among others.

The book publishers therefore stressed that it would be better if tablets and laptops were used as complementary educational materials alongside textbooks.

“In our third world economy we have a lot of challenges and we have not got there yet; even training the children on how to use the tablets, how to navigate them by way of looking for content, how to save and all that is a huge thing that we need to look at.”

“You need to go down to the regions and districts to create laboratories where the children would send the tablets when they are faulty for repairs and uploading of new content.

And if it is an online thing then it means that you need to give them full access to data and if it is an offline programme, then it means you need to have laboratory centres where they would go and upload new content onto the machine, the President of GPA, Asare-Konadu Yamoah, told the Daily Graphic yesterday.

In-built textbooks

The Vice-President, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, last month said the government would supply all senior high schools (SHSs) with laptop computers containing in-built textbooks from next academic year.

The initiative aims to reduce the significant costs associated with printing textbooks.

Dr Bawumia made the announcement during the 60th anniversary celebration of the E.P. SHS (HEPSS) in Hohoe, Volta Region, on May 27.

Support

Mr Yamoah stressed that the association was in support of the use of tablets and laptops as complementary educational materials in view of current developments across the world where technology was driving virtually everything.

He said no country had been able to take physical textbooks out of its educational system, citing the US, the UK, India and Singapore as examples.

“If it’s complementary it is fine because the world is moving digital and the children would have to get accustomed to the digital learning experience and it is something that they do side by side with the physical textbooks,” he said.

The President of the GBPA said the initiative announced by the Vice-President was good, although it was late in coming since the computer and the Internet had become part of the educational resource materials.

Promotion

He said using the tablets and laptops as complementary materials would promote the use of content published by publishers and cited the university where students using digital items such as laptops and tablets still use textbooks, and “so it’s the same thing I believe would happen in the SHSs”.

Mr Yamoah indicated that it would be delusive for any government or the Ministry of Education to “suggest that tablets, laptops are going to replace textbooks in this country”.

He said it was about time the country saw education as a critical socio-economic development tool, and in ensuring that the country progressed in all areas in order to be self-independent and self-reliant, everybody must be considered a stakeholder.

Mr Yamoah expressed concern about the lack of engagement with publishers who were key stakeholders in the education sector on the Vice-President’s initiative.

“If indeed the ministry has this intention or proposal on the table, what is it doing to engage publishers who eventually are going to provide the content?

“As I said, if the ministry has decided already to even sole-source the content from some publishers or one or two publishers, what happens to the liberal nature of this digital learning that has to affect the entirety of the educational stream?” he asked.

Mr Yamoah said because of the lack of adequate consultation and engagement with stakeholders on certain initiatives in the past, they ended up having challenges “as the real stakeholders were not involved in the planning, demonstration and implementation and that is exactly what is happening.”

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“The Vice-President goes out there announcing that they are going to distribute tablets and the content would be on the tablets of the students.

Who then provides the content, what type of content are we looking at and how sure are we that there would be continuity along the line?

All these questions would have to be answered,” he stated.  

He said he had the fear that until the decision-makers went back to the drawing board and engaged everybody that mattered, there could be challenges.

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“This should not be a political manifesto thing; it should be a state-calculated, engineered agenda to improve education by using digital learning to augment what is already there,” he said, adding that the initiative should be led by stakeholders and not a Ministry of Education-controlled thing.

“We would never get the full effect if the stakeholders are not part of the agenda,” he added.

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