Workshops in Accra: Digital Education for change makers in Sub-Saharan Africa

19 Jun 2024
Decorative image combining building and flower motifs


As part of the Digital Education for change makers in Sub-Saharan Africa project, a group of MSc in Digital Education students from Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, and South Africa (alongside Michael Gallagher and Pete Evans from the Centre for Research in Digital Education) met in Accra for three days of workshops (28-30 May 2024) designed to provide a foundation from which to explore some of the pressing issues on the intersections of technology and education in Sub-Saharan Africa. This project, graciously funded by the British Council, identified 16 Ministry of Education officials in these four countries and provided them the opportunity to study on the (fully online) MSc in Digital Education. This study is being supplemented by two face-to-face events, the first of which being the Accra workshops. 

The 16 students represent a range of roles at their respective ministries. Some are in quite senior positions while others are on the working end of MoE policy and strategy initiatives: Director Generals, Department of Basic Education officials, STEM teachers, some working with Education Management Information Systems (EMIS) collecting and interpreting national level education data, special needs education and accessibility officers, those representing centres for distance learning and open schooling, and more. An eclectic yet critical range of roles in the overall digital education enterprise. 

These workshops involved three full days of presentations, exercises and discussion on theories, methods, and research approaches that we felt most applicable to the challenges of digital education on the continent, particularly as it applies to ministerial work. The first day involved a presentation from a representative of each country to surface the challenges and opportunities of that country relation to digital education. We all noted how many of the same themes emerged, while discrete initiatives designed to address those themes varied depending on the country. This was followed by Dr Evan’s walking through the research process (the so-called research onion) and then a talk from Professor Tim Drysdale on the Remote Labs initiative. Day 2 provided a grounding in theory and methods, again curated by Pete and Michael. This day covered posthumanism, social reproduction, capability approaches, policy analysis, and futures methods, all of which were activated with scenarios, discussion, and persistent links to dissertations and their own national contexts. Jo Spiller presented the Data Education in Schools project which (along with Professor Drysdale’s presentation) demonstrated how national level initiatives could reflect a generalisable model that also reflects the particular needs and aspirations of the participating teachers. 

Day 3 was practical in nature: a discussion on research ethics, a walkthrough of the dissertation, a talk from Sheila Jagannathan of the World Bank on the broader trends in digital education worldwide, a formal goodbye complete with Pete and Michael in the traditional dress of the Tamale region, and then a trip to the Ghana Education Service (GEM) for meetings with ministers and Dr Eric Nkansah, the Director General of GEM (who is also a MSc in Digital Education student). At least for Pete and Michael, the journey ended with a visit to the Black Star Gate. Discussions were had on collaborative projects across the four countries, funding sources for those projects, and how the project's team might more meaningfully disseminate and learn from the activity on the continent around digital education in the UK.