Proceedings of the 66th Annual New Year School

The organizers of the 66th Annual New Year School,the School of Continuing and Distance Education,College of Education have submitted the Rapporteur-General’s Report.The 66th Annual New Year School will be recalled by many as one of the most memorable because it is the first of its kind since the University of Ghana went Collegiate. It was organized by the Department of Adult Education and Human Resource Studies of the School of Continuing and Distance Education, under the College of Education from 4th – 9th January, 2015.
The theme for this year, ‘Improving the Performance of the Local Government System in the Era of E-Governance’ seems fit as the world is developing at a faster rate with the increase in the use of ICT; governance is thus not left out. The awareness of the importance of ICT in local governance was made bare in all the activities of the school in the form of open lecture, symposia and syndicate group discussions.
The topics for the open lecture and symposia were:
1. The state of the Local Government Reforms and role of E-Governance
2. Fiscal decentralization: Managing resources through E-Governance
3. Social accountability and citizen participation
4. Effective deployment of human resource in decentralized local government system
5. Using e-platform for knowledge and information dissemination
Experts in these fields interacted with participants and shared not only their individual experiences but current practices. Participants thus had fun but at the same time exchanged knowledge and had deeper insight in these areas.
Statistics on participation
In all, 140 participants registered for the 66th ANYS with 27% being women. The total number of resource persons was 32 and other supporting staff deployed for the programme was 60. Participants who had sponsorship from various institutions were 125 and those who were self-sponsored were 15.

The following recommendations were made from the syndicate groups discussions:
1. Fiscal Decentralization: Managing Resources through E-Governance
• Government should lay e-infrastructure for MMDAs. They should also be given guidelines and directions to embrace ICT in their functions such as resource mobilization, management and dissemination of information to stakeholders.

2. Social Accountability and Citizen Participation
• Citizens should be involved in preparing and analyzing public budgets, implementation and evaluation of programmes/projects that they themselves have developed.
• Stakeholders and institutions responsible for policy initiation and implementation such as TUC, NCCE, CHRAJ, EC, Social Welfare, Information Services and FDA should be well resourced to carry out their mandate.

3. Effective deployment of Human Resource in Decentralized Local Government System through E-Learning
• The District Assemblies should make training and periodic re-training of its staff to acquire skills and knowledge in ICT a paramount priority. This would eventually create a working environment that would be technologically inclined to deploy the use of ICT in the most efficient, reliable, effective and convenient way to be productive in their delivery of services. For this paramount objective to be met, training should be allocated in the assembly’s budget.

• The District Assemblies should build a strong partnership with some of the telecommunication companies to provide technical support such as installation of Wi-Fi service to support internet connectivity. There is also a need to partner with them to develop softwares tailored to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of service delivery of the assemblies’ staff.

4. Using e-platform for knowledge and information dissemination
• On e-platform infrastructure, there should first be in place an office for ICT infrastructure by the District Assemblies. Computers and internet facilities are to be made available by the District Assemblies. There should be cell sites built in all the District Assemblies by Government in partnership with the private sector.
• In terms of human resource, there should be massive recruitment of IT Personnel made up of Networking Engineers, Web Engineers and Programmers to manage the e-platform in the short term. The District Assemblies should liaise with the National Service Secretariat for posting of IT personnel to the Districts to assist in managing the e-platform.

5. Gender and E-Governance
• There is an urgent need to address the low representation and participation of women in decision making to enhance their equitable access to and use of e-governance resources. This can be done through an affirmative action policy backed by a data base of women established nationwide.
• The fiscal management functions of local governance should take into account both the productive and reproductive contributions of women as a major component of community resource development. This will ensure that e-governance resource use in this area will target both women and men in an innovative and equitable manner.

6. Policy Reforms and Implementation Strategies for effective Local Governance
• There is a need for District Assemblies to find avenues of increasing their income through establishing their own companies, encouraging the payment of levies for funeral permit and marriage registration.
• The District Assemblies should also collaborate with Non-Governmental Organizations, and Faith Based Organizations, to support them with funds.

7. Planning and Management of Urban Infrastructure Development through E-Governance
• There should be a need to promote community participation. Thus, community members should be involved in the construction of community infrastructure, instead of hiring contractors outside the community. In this sense, the community members will feel some sort of ownership of the infrastructure they have built, and would maintain it.
• Also, Government should ensure that urban/town planners have been trained and have requisite knowledge in their field. The Government should also ensure that all the logistics needed by the urban/town planners are provided on time. Monitoring of these projects too should be done efficiently to avoid inferior work.

8. Local Economic Development and Public-Private Partnership through E-Governance
• District Assemblies should develop LED and PPP policies that take local contexts into consideration.
• Business registration at the district levels should be used as a data base to help local businesses register with the Registrar General’s Department. The District Assemblies should facilitate this through the Business Advisory Centers.
It our hope that the recommendations made will be adopted by the Government and other stakeholders since it has been established that ICT will promote effective local governance.

Pictures of some of the sessions.