Thursday, July 31, 2014

Helping the poor access health insurance Ghana

SEND connects local community and the national government 
by training monitoring teams to use ICT. Using laptops, teams 
collect insurance and health status data about the local community. 
Whilst doing this, teams inform people how to benefit from 
National Health Insurance.

ACDEP Establishes HMIS at 4 Additional Clinics

ACDEP establishes Health Management Information System (HMIS) at 4 additional clinics at Langbensi, Namolgo, Kongo and Zorko to enable the clinics to transit from traditional data management practices with paper to more efficient electronic management system. The system was first established in Nalerigu in 2013 as a pilot before replicating it at the four other clinics.
The significance of this intervention is to empower health professionals with a system that facilitates their work to access, analyze, manage, and utilize information that is essential to patient care for timely reporting, planning, decision-making and the overall healthcare delivery services.

Current situation in retrieving patients’ data 

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Charge-up Ghana: Pilot Workshop February 2014

ICT Experts Advocate More Training For SMEs PT1


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Girls in ICT Day 2014


African Ladies In ICT( Marshalls University wing)

Connect To Learn Ghana: The Impact of Education
In May 2013, the first set of Connect To Learn scholarship students 

graduated from Mansoman Senior High School in the Millennium 
Village in Bonsaaso, Ghana.

Project Work Debriefing African Ladies In ICT Pt 1

ICT improves healthcare in rural areas in Ghana

The Association of Church-Based Development NGOs (ACDEP) 
networks in Northern Ghana improves healthcare, by facilitating 
ICT in health clinics clinics in rural areas. By doing so, promoting 
data sharing on health education, and enabling health workers and 
communities to access healthcare through ICT.

Legon to introduce ICT Distance Learning Center


African Ladies In ICT( Marshalls University wing)

Camfed Ghana ICT Training Workshop NR 14

A three day ICT Safety Training Workshop has been organized 
for selected teachers in the northern region to create awareness 
on the risks associated with online communication and the 
negative impact it has on the youth in the society.

Telecoms Service Qaulity; Ghana Moves To Deal With Poor Quality Of Service

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Effectiveness of ICT for Rural Development: Building a Digital Green Learning Community

This workshop will share Digital Green approach using ICT for 
rural communities across different domains such as agriculture, 
livelihoods, health and nutrition, and in different geographies in 
India and Africa, specially Ethiopia and Ghana.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Course Review towards Instituting EIPM Course

It was a long range of discussions that begun in the third quarter of 2013, harmonized by series of personal meetings, phone calls, and email exchanges. Seeking an opportunity to engage a government institution to work in altering traditional processes of government business has never been easy. But with the goodwill and support of all stakeholders, a golden opportunity flashed through, witnessed by the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). This was the bedrock of other activities in GINKS’ engagement with the Civil Service Training Centre (CSTC) Accra, Ghana to embed a sustainable course in Evidence Informed Policy Making (EIPM) at the centre. A course review exercise was started, and has produced some inspiring experiences that are worth presenting for public exposition. GINKS (Ghana Information Network for Knowledge Sharing) is undertaking these activities as part of its commitments in the VakaYiko Consortium. This short piece describes the concept of EIPM, and shares GINKS’ experiences with reviewing the courses available at CSTC.

The Concept, EIPM
To better understand the concept of EIPM, it is best to break it down into smaller compartments (Evidence and Policy Making); which will be reassembled to give a much holistic understanding. Concerning this, Oxman et al (2009) wrote that;

“Evidence concerns facts (actual or asserted) intended for use in support of a conclusion. A fact, in turn, is something known through experience or observation. An important implication of this understanding is that evidence can be used to support a conclusion, but it is not the same as a conclusion. Evidence alone does not make decisions”.

By this understanding of evidence therefore, different ‘evidence’ works have different relationship with what actually is evidence. For example expert opinion is more than just evidence, but a combination of facts, the interpretation of those facts, experiences, values and conclusions (Oxman et al, 2009). Secondly, not all ‘evidence’ works are convincing. In this regard Askew, Matthews and Partridge (2002) argued that;

“Apart from the importance of the quality of the evidence, which is principally associated with the rigor with which research methods and scientific principles are applied, there is the more contested aspect of choice of research methods, or even more fundamentally, choice of approach or research paradigm”.

And Oxman et al (2009) observe that;

“Research evidence is generally more convincing than haphazard observations because it uses systematic methods to collect and analyse observations. Similarly, well designed and executed research is more convincing than poorly designed and executed research”.

Some other determinants of perceived credible or quality research findings include, the profile of the researcher, how the works is communicated, the context of the research (sector and discipline), and where the research was conducted (scale or “global evidence”) (Askew, Matthews & Partridge, 2002; Oxman et al, 2009).

Policy Making is an act of making decisions for[1] or on behalf of[2]; and that affect a group of people, especially nations; and policy makers are officers charged with this responsibility. Although policy making falls within the domain of the Executive arm of government in most countries, de facto actors may span from global, through national to local levels of social strata.

Other than policy makers in this vertical arrangement, there are actors present in a breadth of relationships, and may include local and international NGOs, bilateral and multilateral donors, Think Tanks, and other Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) that may be unofficially responsible for policy making within the jurisdiction (Askew, Matthews & Partridge, 2002). These organizations may be engaged in activities that have indirect bearing on official policy making.

For example, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) may influence government policy within an LMIC (Lower and Middle Income Country), to either increase or decrease budgetary allocation to health relief by virtue of the organization’s expanded operations within the country.

Evidence Informed Policy Making (EIPM) is therefore the assimilation of research evidence into policy making processes; an activity that requires the possession of primary evidence evaluation skills, information literacy skills, writing and communication skills, and an understanding of the policy process. Concerning this Oxman et al (2009) explained that;

“Evidence-informed policymaking is characterised by the fact that its access and appraisal of evidence as an input into the policymaking process is both systematic and transparent;… and also that policymakers understand the systematic processes used to ensure that relevant research is identified, appraised and used appropriately, as well as the potential uses of such processes”.

From the wide spectrum of policy makers present, it is obvious that there are equally different information needs. For these needs to be adequately satisfied, policy makers and their assistants must possess skills that enable them to satisfy these needs.

The Experience, Reviewing Courses at CSTC
As a prelude to embedding a course in EIPM at the CSTC, there was the need to review all courses offered by the centre. With reference to appropriate documents and agreements, course review tools were developed for an online survey of courses presented at the centre’s website for 2013 and 2014 academic years, and semi-structured interviews of two principal officers of the CSTC.

These two methods were used to provide adequate breadth and depth to data that was collected and to each other in the review exercise. Different sub-themes to the review exercise were explored and these included, background of courses, course contents related to EIPM, course structure, course participants, course sustainability, and training methodology and pedagogy.

A total of sixty one (61) different courses were available for training in 2013 and sixty (60) for the year 2014. Many of such findings were made from statistical evaluations (mean, median, mode, standard deviation, etc) made, and presentations were made in cross-tables and charts. Identified gaps in data gathered from the website informed the design of interview schedules for the second phase of the review exercise.

Appointments were made, and availability was discussed with interviewees. After some adjustments to these schedules, interviews were conducted and lasted for approximately two (2) hours each. These discussions were semi-formal, and allowed for elucidation of misconceptions and gaps that were present after the online course review. The interviews were recorded on electronic audio media, and transcribed with Listen N Write (the free transcription software).

The following key findings were made from the course review exercise undertaken, that;

a.    the CSTC had no specific course on EIPM

b.    at least 50% of the offered courses in 2013 were not delivered due to financial constraints

c.    MDAs (Ministries, Departments and Agencies) were responsible for staff training

d.    most of the courses at CSTC ran for 2 to 3 days

e.    the Head of the Civil Service is a key player in deciding the final call of courses delivered and the priority topics for each year (although informed by the CSTC through needs assessment)

f.     there are four non-exclusive categories of courses (scheme of service, competency-based, induction and promotional)

g.    participants for CSTC courses originate from all the MDAs, the Public Services, and other extra-ministerial organizations in which the Head of Civil Service has presence

h.    participants are categorised into classes (according to job specifications) for training purposes

i.      course completion rate at CSTC is almost a hundred percent (100%)

j.     the introduction of a new course can be a challenge, but once introduced, discontinuation is very rear

k.    there are 12 permanent trainers and a pool of about 55 adjunct trainers

l.      peer reviews activities are organized among trainers

m.  CSTC believes in a Skill Based Approach to training, and adapts a participatory approach to training delivery known as Learner-Centred training

The Conclusion, Looking Forward
Evidence Informed Policy Making (EIPM) is a fast developing multi-discipline, with applications in health, medicine, law enforcement, knowledge management, public administration, and the likes. Due to its approach to development (one that is based on what works) any programme to make EIPM a core aspect of public policymaking processes is likely to enhance efficiency and effectiveness, especially in LMICs.

This short piece delved into the concepts of evidence and policy making, and combined these to provide and understanding of EIPM. The various activities and findings of the course review exercise embarked upon by GINKS at CSTC also featured. Such findings, and a subsequent needs assessment will inform the design of course modules for delivering EIPM training at CSTC.

As GINKS proceed to achieve other milestones of VakaYiko, and in concert with the in-country stakeholders, it is hoped that the impact of “better formulated and implemented policies and processes as a result of increased access, evaluation, scrutiny and use of research evidence” is achieved.

[1] An example is a policy made by a multilateral organization such as the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), or a resolution passed by the United Nations, organizations that are located outside the jurisdiction of a single State. Such policies or resolutions are ‘enforceable’ at national levels by virtue of membership or association.

[2] An example is a Ministry, Department or Agency (MDA) of State such as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) or a district administrator.


Knowledge Brokering: the Think Tanks’ Approach and Opportunity to Policy Influence in Ghana


Ghana has a long standing history of democracy on the African continent, especially after the country paved way for multi-party democracy in 1992. The state has since undertaken development programmes with the consciousness of, and collaboration from many other stakeholders. Among these stakeholders are Think Tanks, a category of not-for-profit organizations that seek to influence government policy making in diverse range of sectors with the ultimate object of efficiency and effectiveness in delivering development.

Available to Think Tanks are a wide variety of tools, processes and mechanisms with which they influence government policy decisions. Prominent among these methods are publication of surveys and reports, media presence, advocacy, conferences, seminars and meetings.

In the conduct of their activities, Think Tanks have engaged in knowledge brokering in one way or another. This piece therefore seeks to explore the knowledge brokering role of Think Tanks in Ghana, and discuss ways to enhance these activities as Think Tanks seek to continuously influence government policy making.

Knowledge Brokering (the Concept and the practice)
Knowledge brokering is a concept that has been defined as the “use of information-packaging mechanisms and/or interactive knowledge-sharing mechanisms to bridge policy-makers’ and researchers’ contexts” (WHO, 2013). Lomas (2007; cited in Knight, 2013) expands the definition by indicating that knowledge brokering includes all activities that links decision makers with researchers, facilitating their interaction so that they are able to better understand each other’s goals and professional cultures, influence each other’s work, forge new partnerships, and promote the use of research-based evidence in decision-making.

Knowledge brokerage involves processes of translation, coordination, alignment, gate-keeping and representation between perspectives whiles requiring the ability to link practices by facilitating transactions between them (Meyer, 2010; Karner et al, 2011). It is obvious therefore that knowledge brokering is a borderline field/activity that brings together policy makers on one hand, seeking effectiveness of their policies but with limited knowledge summarization skills; and knowledge producers on the other hand, generating evidence that inform the effectiveness but with too much detail for the policy maker.

To this effect the WHO (2013) perceives a knowledge broker as an individual or organization that engages in knowledge brokering activities. Meyer (2010) agrees that knowledge brokers act in three different manners: as knowledge managers, linkage agents (between producers and users of knowledge), or capacity builders (through enhancing access to knowledge); and in doing so, they are involved in a broad range of activities: articulation work, communication work, identification work, mediation work, educational work, and so on.

The activities of a knowledge broker therefore require a variety of tools, such as organizing seminars or meetings, developing databases, and producing plain-language booklets (ibid). This implies that knowledge brokering is a core function of Think Tanks, acknowledged explicitly or not. Think Tanks therefore constitute a segment of knowledge brokers (see Smith and Torres, 2013).

An Overview of Think Tank Knowledge Brokering in Ghana
Think Tanks have been operating in Ghana and many other African countries for many years. Kimenyi and Datta (2011) acknowledge that during the early post-independence years, African governments reconfigured former colonial research institutions to promote growth and development, and invested considerable sums of money in expanding state infrastructure, including research and development (R&D). These activities served as platforms for invigorating research projects that were mostly implemented by academics (intellectuals) for informing policy making.

However, as the political climate became turbulent in the 1960s and 70s, policy making was dominated by ruling parties, particularly presidents or the ‘big man’, with little input from other groups in society. Post-independence African leaders sought primarily to consolidate power and extract economic gains, perceived intellectual criticisms as a challenge to their rule, and reacted by cutting support to intellectual development. African intellectuals therefore turned to civil society for international donor support and thereby provided indirect advice to their governments through research projects undertaken on behalf of the donors (see Kimenyi and Datta, 2011).

With a rich pool of human resources, Think Tanks have increasingly played pivotal roles in the development of the Ghanaian society, especially from the days of structural adjustment. Ohemeng (2005) attributes such great prominence to “the important role they play in the dissemination of ideas [knowledge] and their influence in the policymaking process in general”.

Currently, Ghana boasts of a great number of Think Tanks with prominence over a wide range of socio-economic issues. In fact the Global Go To Think Tank index registered 38 Think Tanks in its 2013 report (Think Tanks and Civil Societies Program, 2014). Ghanaian Think Tanks have very broad sphere of influence ranging across parliament, the bureaucracy and the executive.

Moving Forward
In a current vibrant civil society environment in Ghana, Think Tanks have maintained a high profile for policy influence. However notwithstanding their number, these institutions need to step-up efforts in order to expand their influence on government policy making (reflected in global indices). To this end therefore, the following approaches are suggested;
1.    conduct a stock-taking exercise of all knowledge brokering resources within the country
2.    establish a portal for coordinating knowledge  brokering resources among Think Tanks
3.    encourage patronage of the portal through reward systems and indices/ranking
4.    establish standards for knowledge brokering resources produced by Think Tanks
5.    and convene national policy dialogues to discuss coordinated efforts by stakeholders at improving knowledge brokerage

World Health Organization (WHO). 2013. How can knowledge brokering be advanced in a country’s health system? Health Systems and Policy Analysis (BRIDGE series). Policy Brief 17
Knight, C. 2013. Knowledge brokers: the role of intermediaries in producing research impact. Evidence & Policy, Vol 9 (3), pp. 309-16

Meyer, M. 2010. The Rise of the Knowledge Broker. Science Communication, Vol. 32 (1), pp. 118-127

Karner, S., Rohracher, H., Bock, B., Hoekstra, F. & Moschitz, H. 2011. Knowledge Brokerage in Communities of Practice: Synthesis report on literature review [Draft version].

Smith, K.E. & Torres, J. 2013. Think tanks as research mediators? Case studies from public health. Evidence & Policy, Vol 9 (3), pp. 371-90

Kimenyi, M.S. & Datta, A. 2011. Think tanks in sub-Saharan Africa How the political landscape has influenced their origins. London: Overseas Development Institute.

Ohemeng, F.L.K. (2005). Getting the State Right: Think Tanks and the Dissemination of New Public Management Ideas in Ghana. Journal of Modern African Studies, Vol. 43 (3), pp. 443–465

Think Tanks and Civil Societies Program. 2014. 2013 Global Go To Think Tank Index and Abridged Report. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania.


Ghana launches girls’ e-learning campaign

Ghana launches girls’ e-learning campaign

The Deputy Director of the British Department for International Development in Ghana (DfID-Ghana), Ms Charlotte Pierce, has pledged the commitment of DfID to working with the Government of Ghana to give all young people the opportunity of good quality education.
Ms Pierce said DfID was currently helping 120,000 girls, who had dropped out of school in Ghana, to return to primary school and over 80,000 disadvantaged girls to complete their secondary education.
She disclosed that in pursuit of its goal of helping more young people, particularly girls, to be in school, the British Government launched a programme dubbed ‘The Girls Education Challenge’ under which one million girls across the globe are to go to school and learn.
Ms Pierce was speaking at the launch of Ghana’s first interactive distance-learning project —Making Ghanaian Girls Great! (MGCubed) — at Prampram in the Greater Accra region.
Ms Pierce said MGCubed was receiving funding under the (DfID)’s Girls' Education Challenge (GEC) programme to help it address the challenges of teacher quality, teacher absenteeism and poor student learning by equipping two classrooms in every school with solar-powered computers and projectors through which real-time, two-way interactive distance lessons could occur. 
She urged all stakeholders including parents, head teachers, district, community and traditional leaders, school children and the staff of project implementation and partner organisations to work together and play their respective roles for the success of the project.
In an address, Dr Gordon Carver, MGCubbed Project Director, said the project was an attempt to use technology to achieve certain simple educational goals of attracting girls and boys to come to a classroom and learn relevant material through engaging activities, guided by a well-trained teacher.
Dr Carver stressed the need for partnership and collaboration among stakeholders to make the project a success.
Welcoming the audience to the launch, Hon. Sarhack Nartey, a representative of the District Assemby, described the project as well-targeted and well-intended.
Hon. Nartey, therefore, appealed to all stakeholders to ensure that the project was successfully implemented in order to improve the standard of living of the girl-child.
He urged the directors of the project to work diligently to overcome the challenge of internet inaccessibility.
The District Chief Executive for Ada West, Hon. Anthony Klokpah, noted that since the end of the Beijing Conference on Women in China, Women were beginning to assume their rightful positions in society.
Hon. Klokpah reiterated the need for all stakeholders to give the project their maximum support and to motivate the teachers.
The Director of Education, Shai Osudoku District, Ms Freda Koasi, challenged the facilitators to ensure that the children derived maximum benefit from the project.
In her remarks, the Chairperson for the occasion, Nana Ogyedom Tsetsewa l, advised all girls to pursue education to the highest level to improve their lives and transform their future.
It was the second of the regional launches, the first of which took place last week at Breweniase  in the Volta Region.
The primary objective of MGCubed—a pilot project which will be implemented in 72 schools in the two regions until March 2016—is to improve access for young girls in deprived communities, empower them, raise their self-esteem and enable them to catch up on lost learning and to stay in school.
The project will be delivered in six districts, namely Nkwanta South and Kadjebi in the Volta region, and Ada East, Ada West, Ningo-Prampram and Shai Osudoku in the Greater Accra region.
In all, over the two-year project period, a total of 8,000 girls and boys, including over 4,000 marginalised girls (aged 9-14 years)  will be taught basic numeracy and literacy, and receive enhanced quality education to improve their lives and transform their future.
It is being implemented by the GEMS Education Solutions—the specialist education consultancy division of GEMS Education—alongside key partners like  Aleutia, Everonn, Gem Technologies and an independent evaluator, Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA).
GEMS Education Solutions works with public and private clients to transform the quality of global education and skills provision, and its services are built on the educational heritage that GEMS has been developing for more than 50 years.
From this foundation, the organisation uses its expertise and insight to deliver leadership and management solutions, school improvement, skills partnerships and education reform.
Everything done by GEMS Education Solutions is focused on making a tangible difference in the lives of learners, communities and nations, enabling students of all ages to be prepared to succeed in an increasingly competitive world.


Ghana forging ahead with e-agriculture

Ghana forging ahead with e-agriculture

By Issa Sikiti da Silva in Accra, Ghana
Since launching an internet-based platform in February this year to enable agricultural experts, farmers and community members to exchange opinions and resources, the Ghana government has been forging ahead in its quest to digitise the sector, which constitutes the backbone of the economy.
Almost every month, an e-agriculture initiative is being brought in to speed up the process and disseminate digital knowledge that would probably enhance the sector's productivity.
Just recently, the country conducted nationwide tests of an e-agriculture project to help famers get to grip with technology. At least 35 000 farmers with access to smart phones with in-built voicemail in six local languages subscribed to the platform.
Last week at the African Union summit, African leaders have vowed to 'transform' the continent's agriculture sector by committing to spend at least 10% of their national budgets on the sector.
Annually, Ghana allocates just under 10% of its national budget to the sector, which experts said is very low.
"We have the land but we are lacking the resources and expertise," small scale farmer Grace Sarpong told Biztechafrica in the capital Accra.
"I heard on radio and saw on TV how technology can help improve and transform agriculture, and I wish the government can speed up the process of implementing this e-agriculture nationwide as soon as possible," she added.
"We have been relying too much and for too long on traditional methods of farming. Our productivity is not moving forward year in year out, and we experience serious difficulties in accessing reliable information," another small scale farmer, Cecilia Arimah said emotionally.
Women are the key actors in Ghanaian agriculture, constituting over half the agricultural labour force and producing 70% of the country’s food, according to the 2011 Curtis Research report.
The government has acknowledged that about 60% of Ghana famers were facing problems to access reliable information on agriculture, but said farmers could now access agriculture-based information through a designated portal address equipped with a multilingual interactive voice response system.


Chinese Embassy provides ICT Lab for school in Volta Region

Chinese Embassy provides ICT Lab for school in Volta Region

Nana Appiah Acquaye, Accra, Ghana
The Chinese Ambassador to Ghana, H.E Ms. Sun Baohong, has donated an ICT laboratory to HO Bankoe Philip-Akpo Memorial Junior High School (JHS) in the Volta Region of Ghana.
Speaking at a brief ceremony to officially handover the facility to the school, the new Chinese Ambassador to Ghana, H.E Sun Baohong indicated that the gesture showed by her country points to the fact that China would continue to invest in projects to develop Ghana and expressed the hope that the gesture would further deepen the cordial relationship between the two countries.
According to Ambassador Sun Baohong China’s foreign aid and cooperation projects place more emphasis on improving the livelihood of people hence the provision of an ICT laboratory for students in the Volta Region which happens to be the first project in Ghana to be executed under the ‘China-Africa People-to-People Friendly Action,’ a programme adopted at the 5th Ministerial Conference of China-Africa Cooperation Forum in 2012.

She also introduced the sisterhood and cooperation between Chinese Ningxia Autonomous Region and the Volta Region of Ghana and wished that China and Ghana strengthen their cooperation on local governments to promote healthy and strong friendly relations between the two countries

Among her company were Togbe Afede XIV; Agbogbomefia of Asogli State and Hon Helen Ntoso Volta Regional Minister and Member of Parliament for Krachi West constituency
The project supervisor Gideon Obeng mentioned 25 computers, tables and chairs, switches, routers, rack, a projector and projector screen and an 8 KVA UPS valued at GHS 80,000 as the worth of laboratory put up by the Chinese Embassy
The Agbogbomefia of the Asogli State, Togbe Afede XIV advised teachers and students to make good use of the facility to enhance their ICT skills and commended the Chinese Embassy for their support. He asked managers of the laboratory to allow other basic schools and interested persons in the community to use the facility. Togbe Afede also tasked them to install devices on the computers to bar children from accessing ‘inappropriate contents.’

After the Ceremony, accompanied by Togbe Afede XI and Hon Helen Ntoso Ambassador Sun inspected the construction of University of Health and Allied Sciences in HO. She encouraged the contractor to firmly implement the Chinese Central Leadership’s Foreign Policies towards Africa, carry forward the Chinese spirit of hard work and plain living, strengthen interior management, build high-quality project, and contribute more to China-Ghana friendship.

Change management workshop at Kperiga presby JHS

Change management workshop at Kperiga presby JHS

PEU holds a one day change management workshop with PTAs and SMCs at Kperiga Presby JHS. Parents excited about the ICT project and ready to support it.

Cross section of parents Photo credit: Cletus Zoot