March 16, 2018

Teacher who used blackboard to explain computers is the star of global technology conference

Ghanaian teacher Richard Appiah Akoto drew a computer because his school had none

Photo credit: Facebook / Owura Kwadwo Hottish

Donations poured in after Richard Appiah Akoto resorted to chalk drawings because his school in a poor farming village in Ghana had no computers.

A Ghanaian schoolteacher who used blackboard drawings to teach computer science because his farming village had no laptops found himself the star of a global conference in Singapore.

Richard Appiah Akoto, who drew coloured chalk diagrams to teach impoverished rural pupils how a PC works, rubbed shoulders with Silicon Valley hotshots in the glitzy Asian tech hub.

Akoto, who had never been outside of Ghana before, said he was invited to the Microsoft-sponsored meet after video of his jury-rigged lessons went viral.

Richard with Anthony Salcito from Microsoft at the Singapore conference

Photo credit: Microsoft Asia

Facebook users delighted in his intricately detailed computer screen - replete with toolbar icons - and his precisely decorated keyboard and mouse, which he drew for children who had never seen a computer before.

"Then I will just draw the mouse with the cord and I would say this is the mouse, this is the body and this is the tail of the mouse," he said.

As a teacher of information and communication technology (ICT) at a junior high school in the impoverished Sekyedomase farming village in Ghana, Akoto said he had to improvise because the school had no computer and his own laptop had broken down.

Your work has really inspired the world. It shows the amazing innovation and commitment and passion that teachers have for helping their students get ready for the future.

Anthony Salcito, Vice President, Worldwide Education at Microsoft

After pictures of the class were uploaded, the global response was immediate, with pledges of donations pouring in.

"People started calling me... I said what trouble have I created for myself. But it's all good. At the end of the day, something good has come out from it," he said.

One donor from Britain donated a laptop and a Ghanaian IT firm gave five desktops to the school and another laptop for Akoto.

Excited students check out the new computer equipment at their school in Sekyedomase

Photo credit: Facebook / Owura Kwadwo Hottish

When the students saw the computers for the first time, they were excited but they already knew the parts from his drawings, Akoto said.

After a three-day conference in Singapore, at which he was given a standing ovation, the 33-year-old said the donations meant he would never have to resort to a blackboard again.

"I hope to get more computers so that every student will be behind one," he said today.

"I also hope that the other surrounding schools who are also lacking like my school, we hope to get more so that we also give them (computers) to help in their teaching of ICT."

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