Richard Appiah Akoto is a junior high school teacher in Ghana who had a major obstacle. His students will have to pass an exam including computer skills questions, but his school hasn’t had any computers since 2011 due to budget shortfalls. He has over 100 students between 14 and 15, and only one of them managed to achieve an A grade last year.
So Akoto rose to the challenge. In chalk, he did a detailed walk-through of common software like Microsoft Word, showing them how to launch and operate the programs. He put a few pictures of his process online, via his Facebook. The pictures went viral, spreading like wildfire across Facebook, Twitter, and Reddit.
One person spreading the post tagged @MicrosoftAfrica in her tweet. She wrote:
“Hey @MicrosoftAfrica, he’s teaching MS Word on a blackboard. Surely you can get him some proper resources.”
The same day, Microsoft Africa replied, saying they would get a device to Akoto, along with training resources. In the next few weeks, they flew him to Singapore for computer training and to attend an educator’s conference.
In the meantime, the viral post was catching other people’s attention. A benefactor at University of Leeds in the U.K. sent Akoto a laptop for his students. NIIT Ghana, a local computer training school, donated five desktops, books on computer skills, and a laptop. Akoto’s Facebook page is flooded with comments from individuals, companies, and news agencies offering more help.
Small donations, from the donors’ perspectives. But the value added to Akoto’s school and to the education of his students is immeasurable. His drawings were meticulous, ambitious, and a wonderful learning tool when nothing better was available. But teaching and learning on the real thing will take his students so much further. Another example of how social media has proven to be a powerful tool for those in need.