The Internet is going wild about a Ghana teacher who is teaching how to pass a Microsoft Word examination test using only a blackboard. As far as I can tell, however, so far nobody asked him (and the Ghana government, of course) this specific question:

Why, in seven years…

The story from Quartz says that:

  • Mr Akoto’s school had not had any computers since 2011, despite the requirement for teenagers to pass an information and communications technology exam as part of their progression to high school
  • (therefore) “anytime he is in the classroom”, Mr. Akoto “meticulously draws” the user interface of Microsoft Word on the blackboard”
The question nobody asked that Ghana teacher /img/ghana-teacher-microsoft-word-blackboard-detail.jpg

The question that, as far as I can tell, nobody has asked yet is:

Why, in maybe seven years, has he only drawn Microsoft Word, and not LibreOffice or OpenOffice?

Both those office suites have no license cost, have lighter hardware requirements than Microsoft Office and can also be surely and legally localized in any language the Ghana government may want. Besides, they can both run on Linux, which has the same advantages.

The “question that nobody asked” has, of course, one absolutely obvious answer: if recognizing the right icons of one version of one specific software program is the only way for his students to progress to high school, Mr. Akoto has no faults and no choices. He has to show those icons, and nothing else.

That obvious answer, however, just prompts another, harder question that nobody has asked so far: why has the Government of Ghana not yet included, or allowed into the national ICT curriculum, Linux, LibreOffice and Free/Open Source Software in general? Those options have the non-negligible advantages presented above, and are not unknown in Ghana (see next paragraph). So why there is no space for them? Looking forward to receive answers and comments about this other question.

Support for OpenOffice, LibreOffice and Free/Open Source Software in Ghana

  • Linux Accra aims to “educate and increase awareness and usage of Linux Operating Systems, OpenSource and free Software to the Ghanaian I.T Community”
  • OpenGhana connects Linux Accra and other groups in the country to promote Free/Open Source Software as the software of choice [also for] government, schools, NGOs…”
  • the Ghana associates of the World Computer Exchange distributes computers “preloaded with English versions of Linux Xubuntu operating system (more resistant to viruses than Windows), Libre/Office suite, Edubuntu, Khan Academy and our content pack of education, health, agriculture, environment, and technology content for offline use”