Vivek Verma , Rector of BlueCrest University College, says he is optimistic about the growth of the Information Technology (IT) industry in Ghana, calling on the country to fully embraces the IT world, by encouraging quality and professional IT education.
Having worked within the education sectors of Ghana and Indian for most of his working life, Mr Verma shares with YEN.com.gh his views of ICT in Ghana, the challenges, the role of Blue Crest University College and more.
BlueCrest College came into existence in 1999, as a promoter of NIIT in Ghana. Founder and Director, Dr Kapil Gupta started it. The institution started offering undergraduate degree programs in 2010 and Vivek Verma has been associated with BlueCrest since 2006. He has been instrumental in transforming BlueCrest into a tertiary institution.
Tell us 5 things about yourself outside work life
Personally, I love to spend my personal time with my family. I am passionate about technology and how it can be used for higher education development in Africa. If free, I do devote time on sharing my views about education in Africa through my blogs.
How did your background prepare you for your current position as the rector of BlueCrest College?
I have been associated with the education sector since the start of my career. Prior to my current assignment as Rector for BlueCrest, I was the Business Head for NIIT Ghana, which gave me an understanding about the demand supply gap in high-skilled technical workforce in the region.
Back in India, I was associated with an education group, promoting K12 – HE institutions in India. I was responsible for the expansion of their education ventures in India.
I have two Master degrees in HR & Personnel Management and Marketing apart from my undergraduate in Computing and other professional qualification in IT and Six Sigma.
What do you see as the biggest challenges in achieving your goals as Rector of BlueCrest College?
As a head of institution, my role is to guide BlueCrest towards academic excellence and produce graduates who will be responsible for the socio-economic development of Ghana and the sub-region.
But this can’t be achieved without active participation of faculty members in research publications, which enables them to be aware of the latest development in their area of study. This is one of the challenges, which many institutions are facing, that is one of the main reasons why University of Ghana has come with such strict guidelines on mandatory publication of research works by lecturers.
Publication of research works by academic staffs will motivate students also to actively participate in scholarly activities; hence we will be able to achieve our goals of producing quality graduates.
What are some of your achievements as far as ICT is concerned in Ghana’s educational system?
One of the biggest challenges, graduates today are facing is unemployment. But if we dig deep into the causes, we realize that there is a disconnect between the jobs available within the industry and the skill sets of graduates.
We at BlueCrest understood this disconnect and were among the first few to develop an ICT degree curriculum that was a blend of professional and academic qualification. Hence our graduates had better chance of being placed than their peers. This is a significant achievement and we are proud to host staffs from other peer institutions also, as our ICT degree students.
As part of our CSR, we trained more than 200 SHS teachers across the country in cloud computing, just last year, because we believe that with the use of technology, teaching-learning experience can be enhanced.
How well has the government embraced ICT with respect to educational development in the country?
Government of Ghana has been quite actively embracing technology in education development from basic school level itself. One of the major initiatives has been the setting up of ICT labs in schools across the country. This has really helped students to gain access to technology, which initially was only in the printed books.
I was quite touched by “National Girls in ICT celebration”, an initiative by government to promote ICT education amongst girls. I must say that these initiatives are steps in the right direction, as ICT inclusion has to take place from basic schools.
Are there any lapses in the application of ICT in Ghana’s educational system?
I don’t see any lapse in the application of ICT in Ghana’s educational system. It’s a process of progression, which is taking place. Government and private bodies at all levels, equally support ICT integration widely. We can’t have only technology based educational system; it has to be a hybrid model with works as per the facilities and infrastructure available. Ghanaian educational institutions have embraced ICT extensively.
What is the role of ICT in changing pedagogical practices in the Ghanaian educational system?
Pedagogy is the art (and science) of teaching. Some strategies are better suited to teach certain skills and fields of knowledge than are others. Some strategies are better suited to certain student backgrounds, learning styles and abilities. Teachers need extensive knowledge of ICT to be able to select the most appropriate resources. They also need to understand how to incorporate the use of ICT into their lessons; they may need to develop new pedagogies to achieve this.
Studies show that the most effective uses of ICT are those in which the teacher and the software can challenge pupils’ understanding and thinking, either through whole-class discussions using an interactive whiteboard or through individual or paired work on a computer.
If the teacher has the skills to organize and stimulate the ICT-based activity, then both whole- class and individual work can be equally effective.
What would be your suggestion to government regarding the use of ICT in improving the country’s education system?
We are on the right track. A little more effort and resources are required to provide training to our teachers in ICT and its implementation in teaching.
How do you see BlueCrest College in the next 5 years, and how do you see yourself creating that change?
BlueCrest would like to be seen as a major player in human resource development in the region, not only in the field of ICT but also in Business, Fashion and Journalism. We are already in the transformation phase, new departments are being formed and I am sure in next 5 years, BlueCrest will be a preferred destination for higher education.
I am a part of this transformation process and my role is to ensure that we remain focused on our plan.
What advice do you have for the young Ghanaians who aspire to be like you?
Be focused, disciplined and technologically passionate. It is through technology you can gain knowledge which you can eventually use for effective decision-making in your career.