The Broader Impact of the PHEA ETI at University of Education, Winneba: Building Capacity
The University of Education, Winneba (UEW) was established in 1992 as a university college that brought together seven training colleges under one roof. Initially the University of Cape Coast acted as a ‘mentor’, overseeing UEW’s academic programmes. In 2004, UEW was upgraded to a fully fledged, autonomous university.
The university currently serves about 50,000 students, some enrolled in face-to-face programmes and others studying at a distance, and has four campuses across Ghana’s central region, with the main campus in Winneba split across three locations. In addition, 20 service centres cater to the needs of the university’s distance education students. The use of technology at UEW has grown in tandem with the expansion of the university. A computer centre was established in 1994; this was a services centre, rather than an academic department and, as such, its activities were restricted to training first-year students in computer literacy, and advising management on policy and procurement issues.
The ICT in Education Department was established as an academic entity in 2008. Growing student numbers over the years, while welcome, have presented a challenge for management. In the early 2000s, this was met by broadcasting lectures via the campus radio station. It was thus a natural progression – and a logical next step in the use of technology – for UEW to embrace e-learning to better serve the institution’s increasing student population. Former Vice-chancellor Professor Akwasi Asabere-Ameyaw has been a staunch advocate of online learning at UEW, a fact that directly contributed to the success of the Partnership for Higher Education in Africa (PHEA) Educational Technology Initiative (ETI) at the institution.
As Dr Issifu Yidana, the head of the ICT in Education Department and a PHEA ETI project leader at UEW, explains: ‘The PHEA ETI came directly through the former VC – the first contact was via him. Right from the outset, he appointed a committee to look into the project. He initiated it: it is his baby!’ In fact, the use of educational technology also formed part of UEW’s 2003–08 and 2009–13 strategic plans. Finance Officer Theo Ackorlie explains: ‘Educational technology and the use of IT to enhance teaching and learning was fundamental in all our strategic plans. So we saw the PHEA ETI conformed to our strategy, and we were quick to embrace it.’