ICT implementation in primary and secondary schools in Sierra Leone. Taking a local needs perspective.
Bruine, L. de
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in Ghana and Sierra Leone. This Thesis builds on this and other research conducted for Maxim Nyansa and ICT4D (ICT for Development) debates. The main research question is ‘’How can ICT implementation in primary and secondary schools in Sierra Leone meet local stakeholders’ needs?’’. The purpose of this research is to outline the (relevance of) local needs during ICT implementation in schools, for a more successful implementation and coordination at a later stage, with a regional focus on Sierra Leone. In this way, a fuller potential of ICT projects can be reached. The unique case of Sierra Leone provides an interesting example of a resource-poor context. The longer-term regional goal of this study is to increase research in Sierra Leone in the areas of ICT and education, which can lead to increasing participation of national and international organizations and investors. To answer the question, nine schools have been visited by the researcher between February and May 2021, and seven educational experts have been interviewed. At the schools visited, various focus groups and interviews have been conducted with principals, teachers, parents and students. The debates of education, technology and development have been explored, including concepts of project management, needs assessment, social justice and e-readiness. This Thesis contributes to the field of Educational Technology (EdTech) by providing stepping-stones for a bottom-up approach. To answer the main research question, this Thesis is divided in three parts: State of ICT, Educational needs and ICT meeting local needs. Firstly, the state of ICT in Sierra Leone is very poor, with most schools lacking both a proper ICT infrastructure and access to ICT. Secondly, educational needs identified include improving access and quality. Various categories that are challenging the quality of education have been identified: learning environment, teacher qualification and motivation, content-overloaded curriculum, and other challenges in the external environment. Thirdly, ICT must meet local needs. Though failing to meet all needs, it has the potential to create a better learning environment and gives private schools the opportunity to market themselves better. The many needs limit the focus on ICT. Limiting factors for ICT itself include rudimentary power networks and internet, attitude, poor ICT knowledge and skills. For the ICT lifespan, needs include ventilation, security, monitoring, repair and maintenance. From low-tech initiatives reviewed, lessons have been drawn for high-tech ICT implementation, including good content quality, starting in urban areas and low-cost.