A teacher in Ghana has become internet famous for posting Facebook photos of himself drawing Microsoft Word on a chalkboard for his students because his school has no computers. When Microsoft caught word of this, the tech giant promised to equip the teacher with a device and access to free teaching resources.
Supporting teachers to enable digital transformation in education is at the core of what we do. We will equip Owura Kwadwo with a device from one of our partners, and access to our MCE program & free professional development resources on https://t.co/dJ6loRUOdg
— Microsoft Africa (@MicrosoftAfrica) February 27, 2018
Richard Appiah Akoto, known on Facebook as Owura Kwadwo Hottish, is a 33-year-old Information and Communication Technology teacher at Betenase Junior High School in rural Ghana. Akoto said he draws the screen for students, as he has in the past, because a national exam they must pass at the ages of 14 and 15 to move on to high school includes a section on technology, according to Quartz Africa.
“Definitely those in Accra [Ghana’s capital] will pass the exam because you cannot compare someone who is in front of a computer, who knows what he is doing with the mouse to someone who has not had a feel of a computer mouse before,” Akoto said.
As the photos gained momentum, tech entrepreneur Rebecca Enonchong tweeted to Microsoft and the company reached out to Akoto to promise him more resources. Akoto told Quartz that his classes need about 50 computers for the promise to be fulfilled. The teacher owns a personal laptop but said he does not use it because its features differ from the official syllabus, which assumes students are using a traditional PC unit and monitor.
Twitter users applauded Microsoft but wondered if the problem goes deeper to include the infrastructure of the school and access to electricity. A 2015 National Geographic article said those in Ghana “would pay to get their phone charged, “would pay for kerosene, batteries, candles,” and that it is “incredibly inconvenient” for Ghanaians to not have access to clean, reliable power.
According to Akoto, his school has had electricity since he began teaching there in 2012. Electricity problems only arise when it rains, Akoto told the Daily Dot.
“Apart from that, the light is always stable,” Akoto said in a message via Facebook. “We have electricity but lack computers to teach.”
Akoto said he doesn’t know how Microsoft will go about fulfilling its promise on Twitter, but he believes the company will come through with support.
“I chose teaching to impact knowledge [of] upcoming future leaders,” Akoto said.
Quite impressive…But why not make a direct impact on the pupils as well by equipping the school too, cause according to the base source of the picture, the problem was electricity and not device. But generally its a good way of exhibiting CSR. Kudos!
— ÒÓNI OF LAGOS (@Mr_Rotimi) February 28, 2018
I have worked with schools in such conditions and children hated it to memorize parts of something they never got to see. No computers = problem. That children will find it too hard to compete with those of the excited privileged people in this conversation.
— Tizoc Sánchez (@Alfabetizoc) February 27, 2018
I grew up in one such classroom. I can relate. My science teacher used to draw a microscope with amazing detail – and we were required to reproduce the same drawing with accurate labels as a test.
— Pablo (@juanpabl02124) February 26, 2018
While it’s wonderful that a teacher would put so much effort into drawing a complete Microsoft Word processing window for his students, supporters hope Microsoft will come through with resources to enact solid change at the school.
Update 9:40am CT, March 1: This story has been updated with comments from Richard Appiah Akoto, who confirmed his school does have reliable access to electricity.