Let Girls Learn: An infrastructure for educating

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Breaking through the proverbial glass ceiling may soon become a little easier for African women. Ghana represents one of Africa’s fastest-growing economies, and its government is seeking to improve education for girls and young women by empowering them and integrating them into its national development process.

To help bring this vision to reality, IBMs Corporate Services Corps (CSC) program worked with the Peace Corps to support its Let Girls Learn initiative in Ghana. The program was launched by the President and First Lady in March 2015 with the mission to eliminate the barriers that nearly a hundred million girls worldwide face when trying to receive and complete secondary education.

Innovating access to educational opportunity

A team of IBM engineers and consultants completed pro bono consulting projects in Ghana as part of the CSC team, a problem-solving and leadership development program.

As part of this collaboration, IBM also worked closely with TECHAiDE, a technology-focused social enterprise, to help support Ghana’s drive for technology utilization, academic development, gender equality and social transformation. For developing countries such as Ghana, limited internet access can hinder educational and learning opportunities for all youth, and access through mobile devices may be the only way of getting online.

To create learning resources that are more relevant and accessible, progressive countries such as Ghana need to extend their physical infrastructures by opening architectures and ecosystems to deliver new digital and cloud-based solutions that enhance learning and access to educational materials.

Enabling efficient content delivery through the cloud

To support implementation of programs under the Let Girls Learn initiative, IBM helped improve a prototype and content strategy for the All Subjects And New Knowledge Access (ASANKA) device developed by TECHAiDE. Asanka is the Ghanaian word for a local earthenware bowl, sometimes referred to as a “community bowl” that is used to blend or grind and sometimes serve food. Fittingly, ASANKA is a digital low-cost, low-powered device that compiles impactful educational content in video, audio and text formats and delivers the educational content through the cloud to users.

It can support 20 or more wireless devices, and it offers a fast and cost-effective way to share content with schools and colleges that have limited or no internet access. School administrators can control what is accessible and easily modify lessons and update content based on students’ knowledge levels and learning styles.

The ASANKA device also collects data that yields valuable information about how students are mastering basic concepts as they play games, watch videos or complete quizzes. Analytics applied to this data can provide highly useful information that is used to track and evaluate learning progress.

Establishing a framework for cognitive transformation

The IBM team also worked with TECHAiDE to create a sustainable business model for widespread adoption of the ASANKA system and an IT infrastructure framework that ingests and analyzes the ASANKA data.

This infrastructure will lay the foundation for advanced cognitive computing capabilities that help us create more engaging and targeted educational assets. Moreover, cognitive capabilities can assist our educators with the craft of teaching. These are all long-term goals, but we’re excited to start our cognitive journey.

Starting your cognitive journey

Watch FJ Cava, COO at TECHAiDE, and Louise Hemond-Wilson, IBM Distinguished Engineer and Systems Lab Services CTO, discuss how having the right IT infrastructure with cloud and cognitive technologies has been vital to our mission’s success.

Are you ready to start your cognitive journey? Learn how now.

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