General News of Monday, 6 January 2020
Normally in the festive season in Ghana, what you see most teenagers do is work on their own toy guns but this is not the case for 14-year-old Kelvin Amaniampong.
While other teens are craving to make their holidays more fun, Kelvin is busily fixing problems with the Free Education programme the government is struggling to deal with.
According to Kelvin who comes from a poor home, the Free SHS policy is good and has helped him a lot but it comes with BIG challenges. He believes that there is no way a developing country like Ghana could implement a Free Education policy for its massive population and not have challenges.
“Yes, we’ve seen so many challenges that it is very difficult to tell whether this programme can stand the test of time. Some of these challenges include inadequate infrastructure, inadequate teaching staff, ‘the double-track system’ and books” – Kelvin.
Why the Double-track system?
The double-track system was implemented to deal with other challenges with the Free SHS policy but unfortunately, it is a problem itself. Imagine students are supposed to go on vacation for almost two months. Students who have no access to or cannot afford quality vacation classes and also have no books to study will spend the vacation without any academic activity. This academic dormancy has the tendency to make students develop a lackadaisical attitude toward schooling or become obtuse.
Kelvin and His BIG Solution
Kelvin is the co-founder of Scrolbooks – an eLearning platform that seeks to be the nation’s biggest free digital library. Kelvin comes from Akim Manso in the Eastern Region of Ghana and he studies Pure Science in Ghana Senior High School, Koforidua.
According to him, his first semester in high school wasn’t so successful due to inadequate teaching staff and textbooks. And as the only Science student among his friends, he had no one to turn to, to borrow Science textbooks to study during the vacation. So no vacation classes and no textbooks meant no learning for two months. This was a very bad thing for him and so he had to find solutions.
He resorted to the internet which was very resourceful but then, he was met with a lot of content that wasn’t in line with the GES syllabus. After spending some time on the internet, he had an idea to put his own books online. He then turned to his uncle who is a Computer programmer to help him bring the idea (Scrolbooks) to life.
Scrolbooks when fully completed will offer both JHS and SHS students 100% free BECE, WASSCE, Nov-Dec, etc. past questions and answers, as well as all the textbooks students at all educational levels in Ghana, require.
Kelvin’s Scrolbooks offer the best solution to the book’s problem in the country.
Think of Scrolbooks as ‘the other FREE Education’ but this time it’s happening in your palm. Scrolbooks makes knowledge available anywhere, anytime, and 100% free. It’s high time the government invested in such systems to enable him to cut down ‘unnecessary’ spending.
Speaking of ‘unnecessary’ spending, let’s recall the government’s decision to procure PASCOs worth GH¢4,000,000+ for SHS students. These books will become outdated and obsolete after a year. This means more money will have to be spent on printing new books each year. Not to talk of books getting torn and lost.
Reports indicate that the Free Education programme alone consumes 57.9 per cent of each year’s budget.
In a country where there is at least a smartphone in each home and very wide internet coverage, Scrolbooks is more than a suitable backup for the Free SHS programme and critics have called on the government to acquire the platform.
Another thing that motivated Kelvin to design Scrolbooks was the government’s initiative to roll out free internet in high schools. This will save both parents and the government millions of Cedis that would have been used to acquire traditional books.
Features of Scrolbooks
Scrolbooks is going to offer even more amazing features aside offering students free books. According to Kelvin, it’s going to be the next ‘Facebook’ but it’s focus mainly on education.
Some of these features are:
1. Top students connect feature: This feature will enable weak students to network with smarter students on Scrolbooks to help them improve their studies or solve problems.
2. Talk to a Teacher: Here, students can find good teachers on the platform to help them with further learning or homework help. This way, teachers can earn extra revenue from Scrolbooks.
3. Social (Viral) features: The interactive and social nature of Scrolbooks makes learning more fun. This way, we have educational content going viral on social media instead of the ‘other things.’ This has the tendency to reduce social media addiction among students and rather promote more positive productive things.
4. Quiz contests: Quiz contests can be conducted and top-performing students awarded.
5. Conducting any type of exam.
6. Performance tracking and assessment: Students’ performance will be tracked and so students can request to download their records in a CSV file format.
Moral Lesson learnt from Kelvin’s Achievement
Nation-building is our responsibility as citizens. Instead of lambasting the government on every challenge we face, why not find creative means to help solve these challenges together? At the end of the day, we win or fail together as a people and as a nation.