ICT in Curriculum to Bridge Sierra Leone's Digital Divide

Government administration and regulatory officials in Sierra Leone are pushing for more ICT courses in the country's public education curriculum.

Bash M. Kamara, executive secretary of the National Telecommunications Commission, opined that less than 20% of the country’s population is computer-literate. Though high levels of poverty could be blamed, Kamara said it is imperative to increase that percentage by implanting young people with ICT knowledge.

Godwin B. Samba, public relations officer of the Ministry of Education, Youths and Sports, shared Kamara's view.

“ICT must be embedded in the curriculum at all educational levels," Samba said. “This is not an ICT generation, but it is the hope of the future. Investment in the ICT industry is very critical to the development of a post-conflict country like Sierra Leone.”

A recent survey shows that only 2% of university students are computer-literate. At Sierra Leone's Fourah Bay College (FBC), the oldest tertiary institution in West Africa, one student said an Internet room of about 20 computers is simply not effective for a student body of more than 15,000. Computer studies are included in FBC's tuition fee, but few students enroll in computer classes.

Samba said that until the government makes it a policy, the ICT culture will not be sustained in Sierra Leone.

“We need to make it part of our learning process, because it is not part of the African psyche," he said. "Some of us are even apprehensive about using some of these gadgets, but once the political will is there, people will get used to it all by themselves, even without being taught.”

Samba explained that it is the Information and Communication Ministry's responsibility to provide necessary infrastructure, while his own ministry is responsible for implementing ICT programs in education. Though many educational ICT projects exist, they lack sponsorship, he said.

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