YOUTH TECHNOLOGY LITERACY PROGRAM TO DEBUT IN GHANA
On September 1st, 2004, a team of half a dozen American educators, engineers and university students will depart for Accra, Ghana to run a pilot project for Camp Amelia, a children’s summer technology literacy program already made popular on the North American continent. The team, composed mainly of Stanford students and alumni and funded by grants from Microsoft Corporation and Chicago’s Beck Foundation, will be coordinating with local schools, government, and businesses to provide technology education for underprivileged students ages 8-11 in the greater Accra area. Camp activities run the gamut from using soap bubbles in explaining physics to engaging in “Internet scavenger hunts” and using interactive educational software programs developed by Camp Amelia technology teams. Participants will learn how to use word processors and even the basics of computer programming! These elements will teach the children the value of independent thinking and learning.
The Camp Amelia team will also be training selected local schoolteachers how to best use technology in the classroom and to assist with professional development. Local sponsors Ghana Television and Joy FM are helping the project with free ads targeting potential campers and volunteers. The Ghana Ministry of Education, headed by the Honorable Kwadwo Baah-Wiredo, has pledged its support to identify and invite qualified local teachers to participate.
The camp will be held in the Ministry of Education’s Science Resource Centre in Cantonments of Accra, which will provide the camp with access to as many as 50 computers with high-speed Internet. By including elements of the curriculum that emphasize long-term involvement, such as setting the kids up with e-mail penpals from Palo Alto High School in the United States, camp organizers have ensured a strong continued impact, keeping the campers coming back to the computers and helping them to learn about life on another continent. The skills and tools the camp provides for self-guided Internet exploration and communication should empower attendees for years to come.
The Ghanaian project is a pilot for Camp Amelia, which already has dozens of afterschool and summer programs in operation across America and Canada. The project is part of a longer-term effort to enhance Ghanaian primary and secondary education with technology. Success this September will likely mean a full-on deployment of Camp Amelia in Ghana next year, with even more equipment, funding, and personnel. The camp's staff are eager to make the pilot project a smashing success: "I'm very excited about going to Accra and helping Ghanaians make the best out of the Internet," says David Weekly, a Bay Area entrepreneur who sits on Camp Amelia's board.
Peter and Shirley Somuah, cousins who are both Ghanaian residents and who are responsible for assembling the local support for the project, add: "Camp Amelia is an incredible opportunity for us to give back to our community. While we look forward to this pilot project, the real measure of our success will be when, after many iterations of the camp and the firm integration of ICT with education, Ghanaian youth are in a position to take full advantage of the potential they have to contribute to Ghana's development."
Dr. Herbert Walberg, Chairman of the Board of the Beck Foundation which is providing a major grant to Camp Amelia's Ghana project, applauded the project: "Camp Amelia has already had great success in the United States. We look forward to the pioneering effort in Ghana, which will be the first step in enlarging the camp's scope to effectively serve all the world's children. Onward and upward!"
Clara Shih, Camp Amelia's founder, is enthusiastic about the project and its imminent success: "This initiative is an important first step for education-focused IT projects in Ghana and across the developing world. Industrialized nations have proven the tremendous potential of computers and the Internet to transform business, government and education; emerging regions now deserve the same opportunities for self-sustaining economic growth. The efficiencies and knowledge empowerment from information and communications technology education can play a large role in combating poverty in these areas; we at Camp Amelia are lucky to have the privilege of partaking in this exciting process. I can think of no cause more worthy."
ABOUT CAMP AMELIA
Camp Amelia Technology Literacy Group (CATLG), founded in 2003 by Stanford computer science student Clara Shih, is a university student-run international nonprofit organization dedicated to providing free technology education services for underprivileged and minority youth. Community partnerships, together with heavy technology emphasis, and a rare combination of well-established teaching methods and high technology contribute to dynamic, highly successful programs. As of September 2003, CATLG has twelve confirmed locations across the United States and Canada, with volunteers from such colleges as the University of Washington, University of Waterloo, Yale, Harvard, Dartmouth and Duke. Their website can be found at http://www.campamelia.org/