This paper assessed attitude of students in selected rural and urban Junior High School in Cape Coast Metropolis towards the study of Information and Communications Technology (ICT). Descriptive research design was adopted and questionnaire was administered to 203 students from selected Junior High Schools in rural and urban areas which are located in the Metropolis. Predictive Analytics Software (PASW) version 18 for Windows was used to analyse the data. Frequency and Independent t-test were the tools used to aid in data analysis with respect to demographic characteristics and test the two hypotheses formulated to guide the study respectively. The result from the study has revealed that there is a significant difference in attitudes of Junior High School students in rural and urban areas and in terms of gender; the study points to the fact that there is no significant difference in the attitude of male and female students towards the study of ICT in the Cape Coast Metropolis.
Keywords: Rural school, urban school, attitude, female student, male student, factors affecting ICT studies, grades.
As far back as in 2003, it was estimated that sooner or later every decisions that ought to be implemented which relate to either science and technology, economics, and business development will be based on information that is generated electronically (Marti´nez-Fri´as, 2003). Having access to information is one of the key factors which aid in the generation of wealth and there is a strong link between a nation’s level of development and the level of technological update (Marti´nez-Fri´as, 2003). Information and Communications Technology (ICT) as subject was introduced in Ghanaian educational system in 2007 as a complement to other subjects (Michayahu, 2010). The introduction of ICT as an additional subject into the teaching curriculum is for both public and private schools in the first and second cycle institutions in Ghana. The inclusion of ICT is to help in a holistic development of student so that those who availed themselves to formal education will derive maximum benefits from it.
It is a common knowledge that the rapid and efficient growth of industries in the twenty-first century depends largely on technology and ICT. Medicine, military, industries, agricultural sectors among others have a strong link to ICT. It is in view of this that the recent developments in computer skills and knowledge have become a factor in the recruitment of prospective employees. ICT has become so important in today’s world and this has made it essential for every young person to develop critical mind set to become competent in the use of ICT for the many tasks that he/she will have to accomplish (CRDD, 2007). This was the rational around the design and introduction into Junior High School syllabus for teaching and learning of ICT in Ghana.
To make ICT more accessible in Ghana, policies and laws were made to accelerate the deployment of ICT which includes ICT in Education policy (Government of Ghana, 2008), National Telecommunication policy, National Communication Authority Act 769, National Information Technology Agency Act 771, Electronic Transaction Act 772, and the Electronic Communications Act 775 (Frempong, 2010).The government of Ghana has laid fibre optic cable in most part of the country to serve as a national backbone to guarantee the penetration of mobile communication and internet services. Desktop computers and accessories as well as wireless Internet connections are being provided inmany government institutions; such as schools, libraries and hospitals through a government agency called Ghana Investment Fund for Electronic Communication [GIFEC] (Adzaho, 2011). This intervention cut across rural and urban communities in Ghana and Cape Coast Metropolis is not an exception. Most first and second cycle institutions are also located in these beneficiary communities where this study was carried out. Technology NGOs, schools, communities and churches have also come up with their own interventions, ranging from building community ICT centres, providing solar powered equipment, organising training workshops, and building satellite links to connect rural folks to the global resource (Adzaho, 2011). To make ICT education more accessible to students, one laptop per child project was introduced by the government of Ghana in 2010 to enhance the teaching and learning of the subject (Ministry of Education-Ghana, 2010). Investing in ICT education in terms of computer skilled teachers (to help teach the subject), textbooks, infrastructure and supply of computers can be justified if only students who are the end beneficiaries have positive attitude towards the study of the subject.
However, if the needed infrastructure, accessories and softwares are provided but the end beneficiaries (students) seem to have negative attitude towards the study of the subject then by extension, it means the investment in ICT infrastructure and the idea of introducing ICT into the basic school curriculum is defeated.
In observing and talking with students studying ICT in Christ Church Anglican Junior High School (JHS) for about four years, it became clear that most of the students do not find the study of ICT as an important subject. ICT teachers on the other hand were not well equip to teach the subject effectively as at the year 2010 based on informal conversation held with three teachers in the Metropolis. It seems majority of students were simply frustrated and confused about the introduction of the new subject (ICT) into the curriculum coupled with teachers un-readiness to handle the subject.
For example, Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) result as released by the West African Examinations Council (WAEC) in July, 2011 revealed that only a few students passed the subject very well (12.5%) in a particular school. The result as published indicated 56 students who wrote the paper, 7(12.50%) of the students obtained grades 3 to 5 and 49 (87.50%) also had grades ranging from 6 to 9. The grades students had by gender wise showed that 4 (7.14%) of the males had grades starting at 3 to 5; while 3(5.38%) of the females also had grades ranging from 3-5;14 males (25%) had grades ranging from 6 to 9 and 35 females obtained grades ranging 6 to 9(WAEC, 2011). It is an indication from the result released that over 80% of the students failed, which points to the fact that there is a problem.
Available researches doneby Adentwi, Amartei, Brefo and Sarfo(2010) investigated technology and gender equity of students’ attitude in rural and urban areas in Ghana towards ICT which mirror students in different parts of Ghana while Ayebi-Arthur(2011) also addressed the issues of interest in ICT studies and careers with a specific focus on Senior High School Female Students who were pursuing Science programmes in the Central Region of Ghana. These studies have specifically assessed the attitude of students schooling in the rural and urban areasat JHS in the Cape Coast Metropolis with respect to learning of ICT. This is an indication that there is a knowledge gap that needs to be bridged. Hence, the need to compare students’ attitude to ICT in the rural and urban areas of the Metropolis to ascertain what is existing in schools in these localities. It is for this reason that a research was embarked upon to investigate and find out the kind of attitude students have in the direction of learning ICT in the rural and urban schools in the Metropolis.