Difference between pages "ICT in Ghana" and "Returned Volunteers FAQs"

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The '''ICT Manual''' is meant to be a guide for constructing and organizing a computer lab from breaking ground to efficiently networking computers.
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Keeping former Peace Corps Volunteers informed and involved is very important to us. The topics below are drawn from our most commonly asked questions from RPCVs. We hope you find them helpful.
  
'''ICT FAQ'''
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==How can I get assistance with financial issues, taxes, or a copy of my Description of Service (DOS)?==
 +
For Readjustment Allowance questions; verification of Peace Corps service for an employer or college (verbal and/or written); copies of your Description of Service (DOS), income tax questions and W-2 forms; loan deferment, cancellation, and economic hardship certifications; and, savings bonds, contact:
  
*What do I need to do to effectively dual boot Windows and Ubuntu every time on a computer?
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Volunteer and PSC Financial Services<br>
 +
800.424.8580, ext. 1770, or<br>
 +
202.692.1770 <br>
  
=Unit 1 - Computer Lab Construction=
 
  
==Action Plan==
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==Where can I get assistance with Early Termination (ET) issues?==  
 +
For ET consultation/personal counseling, or if you wish to ET while in the United States on home leave or emergency leave, contact:
  
===Forming a Computer Lab Committee===
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Office of Special Services<br>
 +
800.424.8580, ext. 1470 or <br>
 +
202.692.1470 <br>
  
''I'm coming.''
 
  
===Funding===
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==Where can I get assistance with medical issues?==  
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If within the first six months of your COS you are having a particularly difficult time with your re-entry adjustment and feel you need a medical evaluation, contact the Office of Medical Services to discuss your situation with a medical professional.
  
Computer labs are very expensive. In addition to the initial cost of the computers and lab equipment, there are significant maintenance costs. Therefore, before you even begin, you need to figure out how you will pay for the lab in the long run.
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For general medical issues, contact the Office of Medical Services.  
A separate and transparent bank account needs to be created for the computer program '''only'''. One member of the computer lab committee, usually a counterpart, and yourself should be designated as co-signers to the account and both shall sign all checks for any withdrawal or monies.
 
  
'''Student Fees'''
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Office of Medical Services<br>
 +
800.424.8580, ext. 1500 or 202.692.1500<br>
 +
Learn more about general RPCV health benefits.<br>
  
In many secondary schools, the students pay an annual ICT fee. Consult with the PTA and school board to determine if the school fees can be used and/or if additional fees shall be collected. As for junior high schools, fees will have to be collected directly from them since there traditionally is not an ICT fee to draw from.
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To obtain copies of your medical records, contact:<br>
 +
Medical Records Department<br>
 +
800.424.8580, ext. 1553 or 202.692.1553 <br>
  
'''Donations'''
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For Medical billing/reimbursement, contact:<br>
 +
Health Benefit Program<br>
 +
800.544.1802 <br>
  
Typically, it is a heavy burden for students and parents to bare the entire cost of constructing, or even renovating, a computer laboratory. Therefore, you must contact every available resource to help supplement the cost that students and parents cannot fill. You can ask donations from the local chief, the district assembly, alumni of the school (works for JHS level also), philanthropic community members and collections at church services. What is more, organizing a fund raising event at the school will increase community involvement and solicit the help of the community to donate materials or volunteer their services.
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For RPCVs with medical problems resulting from their Peace Corps service, requests for authorization of evaluation or further diagnostic work-up of service-related conditions; authorization for treatment after diagnosis of injury or illness incurred while a PCV or other illness or disability issues related to your Peace Corps service contact:
Lastly, you can request funds via grants from the Ministry of Education, USAID, the Peace Corps Partnership Program (PCPP), the Peace Corps Small Projects Assistance Program (SPA), and various NGOs.
 
  
==Building Requirements==
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Post Service Unit<br>
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800.424.8580, ext. 1540 or 202.692.1540 <br>
  
Obviously, the first thing you need to do is to decide where the new lab will be located. The computer lab can be housed in its own building, a renovated existing building or room, or attached to an existing building utilizing the use of an existing (fourth) wall, which saves money. Prior to confirming a location, ensure that the new space can sufficiently accommodate the table space needed for all of the computers you wish to have (including space for additional computers in the future). If you are unsure, designate 3 feet of desk space per computer as a rule of thumb.
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For Federal Employees Compensation Act (FECA) claims or Re-entry difficulty, contact:
 +
Office of Medical Services 800.424.8580, ext. 1500, or 202.692.1500.
 +
Additional information is available from the FECA Benefits page on this site.
  
   
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Sometimes RPCVs encounter problems in obtaining assistance from the Office of Medical Services or the Office of Workers' Compensation Programs (OWCP). OWCP is an agency of the U.S. Department of Labor and is responsible for administering the FECA program.  An RPCV group has been formed to help RPCVs secure health care and other benefits that they are legally entitled to (see OWCP Yahoo! Group in the external links section, below).
===Electricity===
 
  
'''Voltage Regulator/Stabilizer'''
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==How can I change my address?==
 +
Use our online form or send an e-mail to: rpcvupdate@peacecorps.gov
  
You should install voltage stabilizers to prevent voltage fluctuations from damaging your computers. Electronic voltage regulators operate by comparing the actual output voltage to some internal fixed reference voltage. Any difference is amplified and used to control the regulation element in such a way as
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You may also send your information via regular mail. Include your name, address, social security number, country, and years of service to:
to reduce the voltage error. If you cannot afford voltage regulators, you can use surge protectors. Be aware of the fact that surge protectors are simple fuses that 'blow' when the voltage and current go very high. They will not protect your computers from voltage levels that are slightly higher than normal. Over time, higher voltages will wear down the circuits in your computers.
 
  
'''Uninterruptible Power Supplies (UPS)'''
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RPCV Database Manager<br>
 +
Peace Corps Domestic Programs<br>
 +
1111 20th Street NW<br>
 +
Washington, DC 20526<br>
  
It is best to have computers, especially when working on important files, connected to a UPS. A UPS contains a battery that will supply power to a computer instantaneously for a few minutes when there is a power failure. This window of time provides you with the opportunity to save files and turn off the computer correctly. If you do not have a UPS, you can lose data or even damage the hard disk of a computer due to repeated 'abrupt' shutdowns. Unfortunately, UPS are far more expensive then voltage regulators.
 
  
'''Power Distribution'''
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==How can I find an RPCV?==
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Peace Corps no longer has resources available for contacting returned volunteers; however, there are a number of search resources available on the Web including Yahoo People Search and Google.  The [http://www.peacecorpsconnect.org National Peace Corps Association] maintains a "Seeking" area on its website under the News section.  Also, every five years NPCA publishes a directory of RPCVs and former staff. 
  
After designating the room or building, you will have to determine how much power each item dissipates. It is generally provided in terms of watts or VA (voltage * amp) on the back of the computer. Occasionally, the value for current is provided. If this is the case, you can use the following approximation to calculate dissipation:
 
Power = 1/2 * Voltage * Current
 
  
Or you can use the values in the table below.
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==How can I locate the RPCV group nearest me?==
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Contact the National Peace Corps Association via their website ([http://www.peacecorpsconnect.org www.peacecorpsconnect.org]) or call them at 202.293.7728.  '''First year of membership is free to recently returned volunteers.
 +
'''
  
{| border="1"
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==How can I stay connected to the Peace Corps? ==
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There are many ways to stay connected. Visit our Stay Connected section or select from the following list:
|-
 
! Item
 
! Power Dissipation (Watts=VA)
 
|-
 
| align="center" |  Desktop Computer (System Unit and Monitor)
 
| align="center" | 200
 
|-
 
| align="center" | Laptop Computer
 
| align="center" |50
 
|-
 
| align="center" | Air Conditioning
 
| align="center" | 750 to 3000
 
|-
 
| align="center" | Lights
 
| align="center" |100
 
|-
 
| align="center" | Fans
 
| align="center" |200 (guess)
 
|}
 
  
'''Deciding on the Number of Phases'''
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* Assist with recruiting potential Volunteers.
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* Help RPCVs with their career and life transition back to the United States by agreeing to be listed in the Career Information Consultants Guide.
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* Participate as a Paul D. Coverdell World Wise Schools speaker.
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* Share your experience during Peace Corps Week.
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* Become a Crisis Corps Volunteer.
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* Submit a story for the Peace Corps Web site.
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* Let Peace Corps help pay for graduate school. Learn more about the Peace Corps Fellows Program.
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* Join the [http://www.peacecorpsconnect.org National Peace Corps Association] and get involved with one of its 140 geographic or country of service affiliate groups.  '''First year of membership is free to newly returned volunteers.'''
  
If you look outside, at the power lines, you see a number of lines moving form pole to pole, think of each of these as the different main lines (or phases) that can possibly come to your facility. Most houses need only one phase, but your facility, depending on what you have in there may need more than one phase.
 
The capacity of each line is somewhere around 4000 W. This number is difficult to calculate. It can vary a lot depending on where you are relative to other users. the main line fuse provided by VRA is 100 A. A conservative estimate to use per phase is 4000 W. Trying to use anything higher than that over a long period of time, you will start to have problems.
 
  
Additionally, when you are working with high power items like refrigerators and air conditioners, you have to consider the transients that occur at start up. When items like these are switched on, they initially absorb a lot of power then quickly dissipate. The dissipation numbers listed above can actually appear twice as large during start up. If you do not take this into account and do not leave some flexibility, then your air conditioner may blow the fuses of other appliances when switched on. Therefore, make sure to calculate for some margin of power fluctuation.
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==Where can I order Returned Volunteer Services publications? ==
 +
RVS publishes a series of career manuals. These are available free of charge to all RPCVs, but can only be mailed to addresses in the United States. Most are now available online. Learn more.
  
'''Circuit Definitions'''
 
  
After deciding how many phases you will need for your facility, you will have to allocate the equipment into smaller circuits. This is a good idea because it helps isolate problems when they occur. Additionally, it is an inexpensive extra level of protection against unforeseen events. If something unfortunate were to happen, it will only be channeled to some computers and not all. It would be wise to allocate the air conditioner its own circuit.
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==How do I apply for employment with the Peace Corps? ==
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Visit our Jobs section for a comprehensive look at working at the Peace Corps, plus listings for open positions at Peace Corps headquarters in Washington, D.C., as well as regional, overseas, and short-term jobs.
  
'''Wire Capacity'''
 
  
As stated in the beginning, make sure that every part of your circuit is capable of carrying the power within the circuit. This includes the capacity of the wires that connect the sockets to the 4-way switch. The circuit capacity for wires are shown below. These are conservative values and keep in mind that the wire at the beginning of a series of components is carrying more current than the wire at the end of the series.
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==Campus Recruiting Positions==
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The Peace Corps occasionally places Peace Corps campus coordinators/graduate assistants ("strategy contractors") at certain colleges and universities that are good sources for potential Volunteers.
  
{|border="1"
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Strategy contractors are returned Volunteers who work half-time on campus as Peace Corps recruiters while pursuing degrees. The recruiter is actually employed by the university which has been awarded a contract by the Peace Corps for recruitment activities.
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|-
 
!Wire Cross-sectional Area (millimeters squared)
 
!Current (A)
 
|-
 
| align="center" | 2.5
 
| align="center" | 10
 
|-
 
| align="center" | 4.0
 
| align="center" | 15
 
|-
 
| align="center" | 10.0
 
| align="center" | 60
 
|}
 
  
'''Grounding'''
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If you plan to attend school, you might contact the local Peace Corps office responsible for the state in which your school is located to inquire about these positions.
  
Adequate grounding is another means of providing cheap protection to your equipment within the facility. It is especially important in electronic equipment as voltage spikes can easily cause damage. to ensure that you have adequate grounding in your facility look at the three power poles closest to your building. Just to clarify, I don't mean the three that are physically closest, but the three closest oles that are supporting the phases of power that are coming into your room. On one of these three poles there should be a thick wire running down the length of the pole and disappearing into the ground. If this wire is not present on one of these poles, your room will not be adequately grounded. If you contact VRA, they should come and install the grounding wire, which should be for free because it is necessary for their system.
 
  
===Cooling===
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==Temporary and Short-Term Positions==
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RPCVs can inquire about current temporary openings by contacting the specific office that interests them, or by visiting the RVS career center at the Regional Recruitment Office in Rosslyn, Virginia, where these openings are sometimes posted. You may also inform any office of your availability in the event that the office has an upcoming temporary need.
  
Air conditioning is ideal for any computer lab, especially in Ghana. Air conditioning lowers the temperature and humidity of the room, which can easily damage the fragile components of a computer. It also allows you to keep the windows closed to reduce the amount of dust entering the room. With heat, humidity and dust being the main catalyst in the ''death'' of many computers in Ghana, AC is ideal but is not always realistic. This is due to the upfront cost of purchasing an air conditioner and its installation, but more importantly, the residual cost of electricity to continuously power it. An even though students are absent from the class, the AC still needs to be on to eradicate the omnipresent heat and humidity in Ghana.
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For short-term jobs or consulting, the Short Term Assistance Unit (STAU) of the Peace Corps provides trainers for Pre-Service Trainings when requested by a Peace Corps overseas post. To identify trainers, the STAU maintains a database of potential short-term contractors and actively recruits new candidates. Learn more about STAU.
However, fans are a viable option. It does lower the temperature in a room, but it does not reduce the amount of humidity or dust in a room, even with the windows closed.
 
  
===Security===
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To submit your résumé or federal application by mail, send it to:
  
Location, location, location. That is the most important aspect in security. Wherever you place your lab, make sure it is in a well-lit and highly visible area to prevent ''hawking''. Next, you will need to install metal bars for added security around the windows of the computer room and a metal gate or sturdy door. You should have at least half-inch (0.5 in) diameter bars with a maximum spacing of one foot between adjacent horizontal and vertical bars, which are cemented into the building.
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Short-Term Assistance Unit<br>
Furthermore, some schools elect to hire a security guard or watchman who prevent thieves form surpassing the gated bars and door by penetrating the roof of a building, which is not as well-constructed as roofs in America.
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of the Center for Field Assistance<br>
 +
and Applied Research<br>
 +
Paul D. Coverdell<br>
 +
Peace Corps Headquarters<br>
 +
1111 20th Street, NW<br>
 +
Washington, DC 20526<br>
  
===Desks and Tables===
 
  
It is in your best interest to create a floor plan of the furniture prior to hiring a carpenter. This will ensure that their is sufficient desk space being mindful of the 3 feet of desk space per computer, including laptops. It is advantageous to arrange the computer so that a teacher may view what is on each computer screen from one place, but the all students should also be able to see the board.
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==Associate Peace Corps Director (APCD) Jobs==
 +
Competitive APCD candidates usually will have position-specific education, several years of managerial experience, technical skills, and cross-cultural language skills. Check the Peace Corps Employment Center for current APCD openings.
  
===Flooring===
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Or, send a federal application or résumé to:
  
Flooring is a conundrum similar to the air conditioning issue. Carpet is ideal, but the layer of dust that will frequently accumulate will require the purchase of a vacuum and inevitably it will need to be cleaned at some point in time. The concrete surface is acceptable but make sure that all computers are covered with a cloth cover and switched off when the room is swept.
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Paul D. Coverdell<br>
 +
Peace Corps Headquarters<br>
 +
Overseas Staff Recruitment<br>
 +
1111 20th Street, NW<br>
 +
Washington, DC 20526 <br>
  
===Board===
 
  
A white board is preferable, but they are expensive. If you decide to use a black board, you should keep it at least 15 or 20 feet from any computer and use an 'efficient' duster when cleaning the board.
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==What is a GS level? Where do I rank? ==
 +
The Peace Corps uses a Foreign Service (FP) system rather than the GS hiring system used at many government agencies. The majority of recently Returned Volunteers may qualify for positions at the GS-5, GS-7, or GS-9 levels. This will of course depend on the amount of relevant experience and the education level of the applicant.
  
==Equipment and Budget==
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For more information about the federal government's GS system, see the RPCV Benefits section.
  
The decision to buy computers in-country or in America is at your discretion. Both methods have there drawbacks. Deciding to buy in-county, both new and used, comes with a high liability of purchasing faulty equipment where their generally are no warranties. However, you can purchase computers from licensed distributors (in Kumasi and Accra) who guarantee a warranty, but you will pay extra for that security.
 
On the other hand, you can purchase computers from the U.S. with a certified guarantee at a considerably lower cost than in Ghana. But the delivery of the computers is where the difficulty comes from. Some volunteers purchase laptops on trips to America and bring them back in their luggage, which is straightforward. But you can only carry so many laptops. Or you can have them shipped from America (or Europe) to Ghana, which avoids the limitation of number, but the shipping fees increase your budget.
 
  
See minimum hardware specifications for both desktops and laptops in Unit 2 for operating systems.
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==What is non-competitive eligibility? ==
{|border="1"
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Non-Competitive Eligibility (NCE) is a special mechanism through which RPCVs can be appointed to federal GS positions without competing with the general public in order to be hired.
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|-
 
!Equipment
 
!Specifications
 
!Cost (Cedis)
 
|-
 
| align="center" | Voltage Regulator
 
| align="center" |
 
| align="center" |
 
|-
 
| align="center" | Uninterruptible Power Supply
 
| align="center" |
 
| align="center" |
 
|-
 
| align="center" | Printer
 
| align="center" |
 
| align="center" |
 
|-
 
| align="center" | Copier/Scanner
 
| align="center" |
 
| align="center" |
 
|-
 
| align="center" | Wireless Router
 
| align="center" |
 
| align="center" |
 
|-
 
| align="center" | Hard-line Router
 
| align="center" |
 
| align="center" |
 
|-
 
| align="center" | Modem
 
| align="center" |
 
| align="center" |
 
|-
 
| align="center" | Projector
 
| align="center" |
 
| align="center" |
 
|-
 
| align="center" | Wires for Networking
 
| align="center" |
 
| align="center" |
 
|-
 
| align="center" | RAM
 
| align="center" |
 
| align="center" |
 
|}
 
  
===Construction Cost===
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What this means is federal agencies are permitted to hire a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer without posting a vacancy announcement, interviewing candidates or going through the other steps that often cause the hiring process to idle. This does not mean Returned Volunteers are entitled to federal employment. Also, state and local agencies fall under separate laws and do not have the NCE benefit.
  
See projects below for project budgets.
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RPCVs may provide a non-competitive eligibility letter (PDF) to prospective federal employers explaining their non-competitive eligibility.
  
*[[ICT Computer Lab for JHS]]  ''(SPA)''
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Noncompetitive eligibility can be used at expected service agencies. USAJobs.gov lists these expected service agencies here:
  
*[[SHS Computer Lab and Internet Cafe]]  ''(PCPP)''
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http://www.usajobs.gov/EI/exceptedservice.asp#icc
  
===Reoccurring Costs===
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For more information about the federal government's GS system, see the RPCV Benefits section.
  
These are costs that should be paid for with funds from the computer lab bank account.
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==What is an SF-50? Do I have a performance appraisal from the Peace Corps that I can use in the federal hiring process? ==
*electricity bill
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Federal employers sometimes ask RPCV applicants for a copy of their SF-50s. This form is called a "Notification of Personnel Action." As a PCV/RPCV, you did/do not have an SF-50.
:There are instances where Ghana Education Services (GES) will pay the bill if your school is located in a financially troubled area.
 
 
*Internet
 
  
*'''''A local and trusted computer technician must be identified prior to construction a service fee should be agreed upon in excess of purchasing replacement parts.''''' This is imperative because even though a volunteer may be able to teach ICT; they will not necessarily be able to repair broken computers. And there will be broken computers, so securing a technician prior to construction will keep everyone mindful of the inevitable.
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You may use a copy of your Description of Service (DOS), instead, as a formal description of your Peace Corps work. The DOS is a factual account of your service. It does not evaluate your work as a PCV.
  
*With the latter in mind, purchasing replacement parts.
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Most federal job applications ask for a copy of your most recent performance appraisal. Try to get a general letter of recommendation that gives an account of your work habits and character, from an overseas Peace Corps staff member familiar with your work.
  
*The possibility of expansion.
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It is advisable to get a letter of recommendation before you leave or shortly after you return from overseas. The longer the time since you left service, the more difficult it is to get such letters. This letter can be used in lieu of a performance appraisal.
  
=Unit 2 - Organizing a Lab=
 
  
==Put First Things First==
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==What if I have other questions about services for former Volunteers? ==
 +
Refer to the Career Resource Manual presented to you at your COS conference, or contact Returned Volunteer Services: rvs@peacecorps.gov
  
Whether you are constructing a computer lab from the ground up or appointed to be the 'ICT Master' of an existing lab, it is vital to construct an inventory of both hardware and software of each computer. Maintaining inventory facilitates the process of upgrading or repairing computers so that all machines are the same. That is, if all machines are the same, as a teacher you can stand at one computer and masterfully give instructions for procedures that will apply to all computers since they are identical.
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==External Links==
 +
[http://www.peacecorpsconnect.org National Peace Corps Association] a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization connecting, informing and engaging returned Peace Corps volunteers (RPCVs), former Peace Corps staff and friends of Peace Corps committed to fostering peace through service, education and advocacy.
  
'''Hardware Specifications to Catalog'''
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[http://www.peacecorps.gov/index.cfm?shell=resources.former.formervolfaq Returned Volunteers FAQs] Official US Peace Corps Website
  
*computer make and model
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[http://www.groups.yahoo.com/group/owcp OWCP Yahoo! Group] An Online Community of RPCVs that Advocates for Better Post-Service Health Care from Peace Corps and the Office of Workers' Compensation Programs.
 
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[[Category:resources]]
*hard disk size
 
 
 
*RAM (random access memory)
 
 
 
*processor speed
 
 
 
===Hardware Troubleshooting===
 
 
 
The first step to hardware troubleshooting is to make sure that all cords and components are properly connected. If they are, a do-it-yourself method of repair is to exchange components with one that you know works. Yet, do not attempt to do this if you are unfamiliar with the proper configurations of hardware components!
 
 
 
'''BIOS (Basic Input-Output System) and RAM (Random Access Memory)'''
 
 
 
*BIOS is the cause of the beeps you often hear when you turn on a computer, which signifies that there is a booting error or a hardware malfunction.
 
 
 
*RAM will continue to work at an unpredictable capacity until it totally fails. A blue screen indicates physical memory failure is a precursor to this inevitability.
 
 
 
*If you do decide to buy RAM, make sure to bring your old RAM with you to make sure you buy the correct type. This strategy goes for any new parts you buy.
 
 
 
'''Hard Drive'''
 
 
 
*Hard drives are very fragile pieces of equipment, thus when you hear anything out of the ordinary take note of it and make sure to backup your data. With that being said, there is not much you can do if your hard drive does crash.
 
 
 
*In practice of ''prevention is better than treatment'', it is wise to create two or three partitions on you hard drive. The largest will be for you primary OS (typically Windows). The next will be both free and unformatted space (>5 GB, which is enough space to install Windows in case the primary installment crashes), or it will be space for a secondary OS like Ubuntu. The last open space is a default partition, which is less than a GB. However, do not repartition a hard drive if there's any valuable data currently on it, unless you've backed it up first!
 
 
 
*In the event that a hard drive does fail, there are ''Live CDs'' that contain small operating systems on them that allow you to repair or isolate bad sections of a hard drive with partitions. Knoppix and SystemRescue CD are examples of free live CDs. Please, contact your Think Tank Coordinator or local Strike Force member for assistance and/or a copy.
 
 
 
'''Power Supply'''
 
 
 
*If the power supply fails, there will be no lights or sounds when you attempt to turn on the system unit. Also, the lights on the motherboard will not work, which are always lit when the computer is plugged in. After it has been confirmed to the best of your knowledge, it is permissible to replace the power supply from another computer that is spoiled.
 
 
 
*Power supplies often fail after low current or persistent fluctuating current. Utilizing a voltage regulator is the best solution for this problem.
 
 
 
*In addition to the power supply of computers, be conscientious of other equipment, like air conditioners, that also detract and affect the flow of electricity.
 
 
 
'''Peripheral Devices'''
 
 
 
*These are your mice, keyboards, printers and monitors. At the first sign of a problem, always check the connection and condition of the cables and connector pins at the end of the cable, which can be easily bent. A secondary solution is to make sure that the devices are sufficiently clean because dirt and other unidentified objects can become lodged in hard to reach places that can cause a device to not work properly.
 
 
 
*Another strategy is to perform a diagnostic test using the OS built-in check system. Sometimes viruses or users can delete or misplace vital files known as drivers that maintain the operation of these devices.
 
 
 
*For monitors, if the monitor is tinted with a weird color, check to see if any pins are bent. If the monitor power supply is damaged, which is signaled by an amber light that never goes away or it will not turn on at all, you have to have it repaired in order for it to work again. Furthermore, if you connect another monitor to a system unit and it still does not work, it may be the video card or power supply in the system unit that is the problem.
 
 
 
*For keyboards, if the computer beeps continually, make sure to see that none of the keys are stuck.
 
 
 
==Choosing an Operating System (OS)==
 
 
 
'''Microsoft Windows'''
 
 
 
*''Advantage''
 
:It is the gold standard of office suites, which is why Windows controls about 85% of the market for OS. This makes it the most widely used and recognized OS in the world. However, its dominance does not stem from its superior product or, in other words, its software programming. It is due to its positioning. When IBM created the first mass-produced personal computers (PC), called IBM-PC, Microsoft was the OS that was installed on each system (which is where the alias ''PC'' originated from being synonymous with the first personal computer). From there, through aggressive marketing and ''clever'' tactics, it has never relinquished its hold on the market.
 
 
 
*''Disadvantage''
 
:Being the Goliath of the market, it has made itself the primary target of malware (or viruses). Malware production appears to coincide with the proportion with which an OS controls the market. Furthermore, its vulnerability is increased by its source code (the foundation of the OS) being too readably accessible to manipulation, which is a major flaw that Windows is still working on.
 
 
 
 
 
'''Ubuntu (Linux)'''
 
 
 
*''Advantage''
 
:It has recently gained public recognition (still < 5% of overall OS) for being the largest open source OS community, even though it was derived from one of the first OS systems (Unix) and operates 90% of supercomputers. Its status as a free OS was not by design, but created by legal troubles with one of Unix's first proprietors, AT&T. After which, its vitality has been greatly assisted by one of the largest open source communities, universities. It is a Linux community where Ubuntu has become its largest branch (about 50%) in the family tree. As a consequence of being nurtured by universities, Linux (Ubuntu) has used its relationship with academia to create an extensive list of educational software, with EdUbuntu being Ubuntu's own educational package. Linux, especially Ubuntu, has been gaining momentum due to its price, or lack there of, and its resistance, not immunity, to malware with one of its most notable converts being the entire French police department. Even though Ubuntu is free, the major reluctance of organizations and industries to make the switch to it is the cost of retraining staff, which is how Ubuntu makes its money, and how well-fused Windows is in peoples minds. Consequently, realizing that the short-term cost associated with making the change is nominal, the most significant obstruction is still, and may always be the resistance of people to CHANGE.
 
 
 
*''Disadvantage''
 
:Its greatest deterrent may arise before a user has an opportunity to use it and that is the installation (especially dual booting) is difficult for some machines, which is not without a little assistance from Goliath (Windows). Furthermore, it is also difficult to add software to the OS without Internet access, which is a major drawback when developing countries, like Ghana, could thrive on free open source software (FOSS), yet due to its underdeveloped infrastructure readily available access is a significant hurdle to its propagation.
 
 
 
 
 
'''Dual Booting'''
 
*'''''I am coming.'''''
 
 
 
 
 
'''Others'''
 
 
 
*EdUbuntu - it is the normal Ubuntu with a vast array of education software, from an interactive periodic table for chemistry to games for mathematics.
 
 
 
*KUbuntu - it is a lightweight version of Ubuntu for older computers, or in other words. Its minimum hardware specifications are an anemic 1 Ghz processor and 526 MB of RAM.
 
 
 
*gOS (Linux) - GNOME that works like Mac OS X and features: google aps, Picasa, Google gadgets, other web-based applications, and comes with Wine 1.0 pre-installed.
 
 
 
*Fedora (Linux) - features the most cutting-edge Linux technology and it is the second most used Linux OS behind Ubuntu
 
 
 
*SUSE Linux - it is the most popular Linux OS in Europe
 
 
 
==Appropriate Software==
 
 
 
*Microsoft Office (MS) Suite or OpenOffice.org (Open) Suite (see Resource CD for OpenOffice.org, which is a viable alternative to pirating MS Office Suite)
 
*Anti-virus
 
**AVG is the best free anti-virus. (see Resource CD)
 
**Avira is the second best.
 
*typing and mouse skills (see Resource CD)
 
*MS Window Paint (default) or Open's Drawing (default)
 
**Inkscape is a FOSS that is equivalent to Corel Draw. (see Resource CD)
 
*VLC is the best multimedia player there is and it's free. (see Resource CD)
 
*Wine
 
**If you are running Ubuntu, it is a free application that enables you to run certain Windows software in Ubuntu; Microsoft Office is one of them.
 
 
 
'''Upgrades'''
 
 
 
*HTTrack - it is a web crawler that saves the pages that you access while on the Internet. It's best used when teaching about the Internet without having Internet access in your lab. The students can use a web browser to access the web pages you capture and learn how to navigate through them.
 
*''Others will be added at a later date and time.''
 
 
 
===Why FOSS?===
 
 
 
Open source software, which is not always free, is software whose source code (core of a program) is made available to either the general public or a particular community of software developers who collaborate to make a more well-rounded program that the original developer could not create on its own. It is a developmental methodology that can be used to establish an industry standard, or in some cases, open source software is created as an alternative to proprietary software (software you have to pay for). Notwithstanding, '''free open source software (FOSS)''' has mistakenly gained the rep of being an inferior product to proprietary software based on the proverb that ''you pay for what you get''. This is surely not the case, especially in light of the monopoly that Microsoft has on many software programs. Because of Microsoft's strong-arm mentality, the open source software community has become stronger and more organized in an attempt to assuage the market dominance of Microsoft.
 
 
 
With that being said, FOSS can fill a vital niche in developing countries simply because of its price, a cogent aspect that should not be overlooked. Even though Microsoft is the designated software program for most of academia, '''it must be stated that it is the skills that are important and not the name of the software or functions'''. Most open source software do have the same functions and capabilities as its proprietary counterpart; it just has different names and locations. For instance, a little known fact is that OpenOffice.org has been around for 20 years and has established itself as a viable alternative to Microsoft Office, including the ability to open and save documents in Microsoft format. Furthermore, on a personal level, I compare switching from popular proprietary software to open source software to that of moving from one house to another. It takes some time to remember where you place things, like 'Is it this drawer or that one?' 'Is it this closet or that one?' The switch to open source software is initially painful, but in the long run it pays off not to have to pay.
 
 
 
As a result of what is at hand, an ethical question arise: '''Is it better to use unfamiliar free open source software or popular pirated software?'''
 
 
 
{|border="1"
 
|+'''List of Equivalent FOSS'''
 
|-
 
!Type
 
!Software
 
!Windows
 
!Mac
 
!Ubuntu (offline)
 
|-
 
| align="center" |Office Suite
 
| align="center" | OpenOffice.org
 
| align="center" |Replaces Microsoft Office
 
| align="center" | Replaces Apple Works
 
| align="center" |Default
 
|-
 
| align="center" |Web Browser
 
| align="center" | Firefox
 
| align="center" |Replaces Internet Explorer
 
| align="center" | Replaces Safari
 
| align="center" |Default
 
|-
 
| align="center" |Anti-virus
 
| align="center" | AVG
 
| align="center" |yes
 
| align="center" | yes
 
| align="center" |n/a
 
|-
 
| align="center" |
 
| align="center" | Avast
 
| align="center" |yes
 
| align="center" | yes
 
| align="center" | ClamAv is best for Ubuntu
 
|-
 
| align="center" |Keyboarding and Mouse Skills
 
| align="center" | Klavaro
 
| align="center" |yes
 
| align="center" | Replaces Mavis Beacon
 
| align="center" |Replaces TuxType
 
|-
 
| align="center" |
 
| align="center" | GoMouse
 
| align="center" |yes
 
| align="center" | n/a
 
| align="center" |n/a
 
|-
 
| align="center" |Audio Player (also an ipod manager)
 
| align="center" | Amarok
 
| align="center" |Replaces Windows Media Player
 
| align="center" | iTunes is the king
 
| align="center" |Replaces Rhythmbox
 
|-
 
| align="center" |Multimedia Players
 
| align="center" | VLC (the best)
 
| align="center" |Replaces Windows Media Player
 
| align="center" | Replaces Quicktime Player
 
| align="center" |Replaces Movie Player
 
|-
 
| align="center" |Multimedia Editing
 
| align="center" | Cinelerra (video editor)
 
| align="center" |yes
 
| align="center" | iMovie is sufficient
 
| align="center" |yes
 
|-
 
| align="center" |
 
| align="center" | Audacity (audio editor)
 
| align="center" |yes
 
| align="center" | Garageband is the best
 
| align="center" |yes
 
|-
 
| align="center" |
 
| align="center" | Jokosher (music editor)
 
| align="center" |yes
 
| align="center" | Garageband is the best
 
| align="center" |yes
 
|-
 
| align="center" |Image and Graphics Editing
 
| align="center" | GIMP (image editor)
 
| align="center" |Replaces Photoshop
 
| align="center" | iPhoto is sufficient
 
| align="center" |Default
 
|-
 
| align="center" |
 
| align="center" | Picasa (photo manager)
 
| align="center" |yes
 
| align="center" | Replaces iPhoto
 
| align="center" |yes
 
|-
 
| align="center" |
 
| align="center" | Inkscape (graphics editor)
 
| align="center" |Replaces Corel Draw
 
| align="center" | yes
 
| align="center" |Replaces TuxPaint
 
|-
 
| align="center" |
 
| align="center" | Google SketchUp (CAD)
 
| align="center" |yes
 
| align="center" | yes
 
| align="center" |n/a
 
|}
 
 
 
==Networking==
 
 
 
*Thin Client
 
**''I'm coming.''
 
 
 
*Clonezilla
 
**''I'm coming.''
 
 
 
*GIFEC Server (Ubuntu)
 
**''I'm coming.''
 
 
 
==Internet==
 
 
 
*Modems
 
**''I'm coming.''
 
*The '''[http://www.worldpossible.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=72 Rachel Server]''' is meant to be a standalone server in a computer lab where Internet access is not possible or infeasible due to cumulative cost.
 
 
 
==Viruses in Ghana==
 
 
 
Viruses for computers are similar to those for animals. A virus that is made for Windows ''usually'' will not infect a Mac or Linux, yet it is possible for a virus to be compatible for multiple platforms (operating systems), in the case like bird flu (humans and birds).
 
 
 
Viruses on pen drives will display some of the following tell-tell signs:
 
*It says 'autorun'.
 
*It is a locked file or folder that you have not locked yourself, and you cannot initially delete the virus because of this. If this happens, right-click on the file or folder and in the properties unlock the file or folder so that you may then empty your trash.
 
*It is a file or folder that you did not place on your pen drive. And sometimes it is a duplicate of an existing file or folder on your pen drive but if you right-click on it and look at its date of creation in the properties, you can distinguish it from your original files.
 
Due to the vast number of viruses in Ghana, it is important to update your anti-virus and software package (especially Windows), which shore up vulnerable 'holes' in an OS's defenses, on a regular basis. Depending on how often people access their pen drives on a computer will determine how often you need to update your system defenses.
 
 
 
An additional strategy for protection is to turn off autoplay, or autorun. Autorun is a Windows feature that automatically enables applications on devices, like pen drives and CD-ROMs, to launch without notification. It was implemented in Windows to ease application installation for non-technical users and reduce the cost of software support calls. Consequently, this is how malware gains its access to your system. Therefore, it is best to turn it off because anti-viruses will not detect all viruses. To disable autorun, click Control Panel, Hardware and Sound, then Autoplay.
 
 
 
With all of the precautionary measures that must be taken to protect Windows from infection, this is why converting to Ubuntu is so advantageous. There are very few viruses in Ghana that are written to infect Linux systems, and those that are rarely gain access to the root source code (heart of an OS) due to its security protocol, in comparison to viruses for Windows.
 
 
 
==Miscellaneous==
 
 
 
''I'm coming.''
 
 
 
=Unit 3 - Teaching=
 
 
 
 
 
==General Teaching Overview==
 
 
 
 
 
===Junior High School===
 
 
 
*[[media:]]
 
 
 
Due to the recent addition of ICT to the BECE ( ) and the lack of qualified teachers in the subject. PCVs are increasingly being asked ('persuaded') to teach ICT at the JHS level even though Peace Corps only recognizes Mathematics and Integrated Science in its current project plan and training. Teaching ICT at any level in Ghana is difficult due to the lack of daily interaction with technology, more specifically, computers. And to make the situation more difficult, besides the absence of computers, is that most JHS's do not have electricity.
 
 
 
However, depending on how you look at it, PCV's are more qualified than the average Ghanaian to teach ICT stemming from our ''experience'' with computers and other technologies. A truth that is illustrated by the fact that most Ghanaian teachers do not develop their computer literacy beyond the few classes they have at the SHS level and in teacher training college.
 
 
 
Nonetheless, if you do decide to teach ICT, which is not as dire as my description may suggest, focus on the topics that appear on the mock BECE exams. This is important especially for those who will be teaching without computers. (See [[//]]) This notion is not logical, but it is reality in Ghana. The better your students know the 'facts', the more time they can spend on the practical aspect in SHS where computer labs are more common. And if you are fortunate to have even one computer, focus on helping the students to consistently execute the following:
 
 
 
*Properly turning on and off a computer.
 
 
 
*How to properly hold and use a mouse.
 
 
 
*FYI, it is very difficult to teach students how to type, especially when there are often three or more students to a computer. Therefore, proceed at your own risk.
 
 
 
*Identifying parts of the desktop (taskbar, wallpaper, etc.).
 
 
 
*How to manage windows: minimize, maximize, close and restore.
 
 
 
===Senior High School===
 
 
 
''I'm coming.''
 
===Teacher Training College===
 
 
 
''I'm coming.''
 
 
 
 
See the [[Teacher's Corner#Past Cape Coast Tests|Teacher's Corner]] for a sample syllabus and past Cape Coast exams for Teacher Training Colleges.
 
 
 
==Teaching Without Computers==
 
 
 
Whether you have a fully-stocked computer lab, few computers, no computers or lights out, it helps to have a bag of alternatives to help clarify unfamiliar ideas associated with ICT, especially when trying to convey such ideas that can be lost in translation. Accordingly, psychologists have proven that using analogies that students can understand to develop a familiar relationship is paramount.
 
 
 
'''Information Processing Cycle'''
 
 
 
Use an analogy that has a raw resource because data is unorganized facts. This being transformed or processed into an action or product that represents information, which is organized facts. It could be food (data) being eaten, digested (processed) and used to provide a person with energy (information). Or fuel that is converted into power by the engine. Or an open field that is planted with, let’s say, plantain seeds that transform into trees because sunshine and rain assist in the processing aspect. And then harvesting is the production of information. Utilize your imagination to create rationale relationships to explain what it means to process a raw resource into a product.
 
 
 
'''Parts of a Computer'''
 
 
 
There are two options here. One, it is best to find broken computers in one of the following places: your community; yours or a nearby SSS; or a larger town where you have more opportunities to ask vendors. The idea is to give the students something tangible to galvanize their memories. The other alternative is to print pictures of computer parts so that your students can better visualize what the components look like. Even if you are a direct descendant of Picasso’s, digital photos are always better than anything you can draw on the board.
 
 
 
When it comes to input and output devices, make sure to emphasize that “input devices send data to the system unit” and “output devices receive information from the system unit.” Therefore, a “keyboard sends data to the system unit” or a “monitor receives information from the system unit.” This is to emphasize phrasing your answers and questions in a fill-in-the-blank style so not to make concepts too difficult due to language barriers.
 
 
 
'''STORAGE DEVICES'''
 
 
 
Here again, displaying pictures of storage devices is a viable alternative if you cannot find any storage devices. An appropriate analogy is to develop the following relationships: a bucket is like a hard disk; a cup is like a removable storage device; and water (inside of the bucket) is information. Therefore, transferring water from one bucket to another is like using a removable storage device to transfer information from one computer to another.
 
Furthermore, a game that could be used is to illustrate the importance of storage devices is to write down a phrase or number and show it to the first student in a row or aisle. After which, have the students relay the phrase or number (like data or information) one-by-one by whispering to each other without writing the “data” down. And at the end see how accurate the last student’s “data” is to the first student’s.
 
 
 
'''Turning On and Off a Computer'''
 
 
 
You are on your own with this one.
 
 
 
'''Introduction to the Desktop and Lauching an Application'''
 
 
 
Develop the following relationships. A computer desktop is like the top of a student’s desk; it’s where you do work. A software application is like a textbook that is retrieved from their book bag, which is like the hard disk. And compare the act of trying to place an opened book (like an application) inside their bag (like the hard disk) without closing it to clarify the importance of closing all programs before you shutdown the computer. Furthermore, use folders or notebooks and sheets of paper to illustrate the differences between folders and files, respectively.
 
 
 
'''Typing'''
 
 
 
Print out the keyboard template located on the Resource CD or have them copy it into their notes so that the students may see how the keys are arranged. To add interest to typing activities, translate the names of the fingers into the local language as it is shown below in
 
 
 
Twi:
 
*Thumb =  kokurobeti
 
*Index = akerε kyerε kwan (“let me show you the way”)
 
*Middle finger = nsateahne (“the chief”)
 
*Ring finger = aheneakyire (“he who follows the chief”)
 
*Pinky = k⊃kr⊃moto
 
From here, you can create assignments where the students answer questions by correctly writing which finger to use for a particular letter or each letter of a word.
 
 
 
'''Word Processing'''
 
 
 
Teaching word processing and spreadsheets are perhaps the most difficult topics to teach without computers because of the distinct steps that one must follow to use each feature. These are steps that cannot be truly comprehended by using pictures or diagrams on the board. However, cutting, copying and pasting can be illustrated by writing questions on the board and leaving a blank (”dash”) in place of the answer. Here, you would provide students with clips of papers with the answer and illustrate how to paste an answer from a clipboard or how to cut or copy, in the case of an answer being used in multiple blanks.
 
 
 
For formatting, how to teach the difference between bold, italics and underlining is self-explanatory. But for fonts, having multiple students write the same sentence on the board can be used to illustrate that a font is merely a type of writing style.
 
 
 
Furthermore, split a board in half and designate one side of the board as unformatted and the other as formatted, like when one is teaching formatting that not only includes fonts and styles, but also numbering and bullets. And the same strategy can be used when explaining the different pasting options when copying text from a website and pasting it into a word processing document.
 
 
 
'''Spreadsheets'''
 
 
 
I think it is pertinent to first emphasize why one would use a spreadsheet before going into intricate details. Use examples like class rosters, timetables and payrolls and compare its use to that of tables in mathematics.
 
 
 
'''The Internet'''
 
 
 
Capturing the dynamic attributes of the Internet comes second only to explaining how to use the features of a word processing document and spreadsheet. This is because using a magazine and describing the Internet as a collection of magazines and notebooks provides a basis from which to work with because that’s essentially what much of the Internet is, a library of interactive magazines. Furthermore, try to explain how the topics on the table of contents are like hyperlinks or shortcuts to that particular article without needing to flip through each page. In addition, the connection of computers are like that of mobile phones, but with wires, for the most part.
 
 
 
When describing the process of creating an e-mail account, duplicate that of setting up a bank account or registering for school. While the personal details are similar to the previously stated analogies, compare usernames to a student’s nickname, or account/student number, and passwords to a key or “secret code”.
 
 
 
Beyond the scope of ICT without computers, '''Wikipedia for Schools''' is a great alternative when teaching about the Internet without a connection. This is because you navigate through the encyclopedia using a web browser. Furthermore, you can create a scavenger hunt-like assignment where students navigate through the section on countries to find specific information, like populations or presidents’ names, and complete a crossword puzzle or copy and paste the information into a word processing document.
 
 
 
==Integrating ICT Into Other Subjects and Sectors==
 
 
 
'''Art'''
 
 
 
Art can use ICT by creating TLM (teacher-learner material) for themselves and other teachers. These TLM can include flashcards like those used for learning the alphabets with pictures signifying the first letter of the word. This can be done creating drawings from scratch using Inkscape or editing existing drawings and adding a Ghanaian aspect with GIMP.
 
A teacher may also create templates for coloring like those for coloring books. Or templates could be created for paper-based arts like Origami illustrating where to fold or cut.
 
 
 
'''Printed Materials'''
 
 
 
''I'm coming.''
 
 
 
'''Audio'''
 
 
 
''I'm coming.''
 
 
 
'''Video'''
 
 
 
''I'm coming.''
 
 
 
=Unit 4 - Sustainability=
 
 
 
==Training a Ghanaian to Run a Computer Lab==
 
 
 
'''Basic Tasks to be Transferred'''
 
*Printing
 
*Deframenting and Disk Cleanup
 
*Adding/Removing Software
 
*Virus Prevention
 
*See [[#Hardware Troubleshooting|Hardware Troubleshooting]]
 
 
 
'''Steps to Hand Over a Lab'''
 
#''I'm coming''
 
 
 
==Generating Income==
 
 
 
'''It's about business.'''
 
*'''Typing''' - Typing services in Ghana generally charge 50 pesewa to 1 cedi per typed and printed 'master copy'. You may choose to match the prices of local business or set a discounted price to increase business. And this is an opportune time to focus on teaching a handful of teachers or students to handle this job.
 
*'''Copies''' - The price of copying is between 5 and 10 pesewa per page face or, simply, the front and back of a page.
 
*'''Selling Resource CDs''' - You can create a software package that contains any of the software on the equivalent list in the [[#Why FOSS?|Why FOSS?]] section. However, it is still a crime in Ghana to distribute copies of proprietary software, especially Microsoft products.
 
*'''Tutoring''' - You can organize remedial computer classes for teachers or community members. But make sure that you have worked out the details with the proper authority figures.
 
*'''Running an Internet Cafe'''
 
**''I'm coming.''
 
*'''Fundraising Events''' - This can be done, as previously stated, for initial funds for a computer lab or for upgrades to it.
 
 
 
=Unit 5 - Appendix=
 
 
 
==Computers in Ghana==
 
 
 
Computers are an excellent way to pass the time here in Ghana whether it be watching movies or listening to music. However it is important that you be aware of the numerous hazards such as theft (insurance cannot recover files from your stolen computer), viruses, electrical fluctuation and surges, hot and humid climate, dust, and other critters. Quality replacement parts can only be found in the major cities and are expensive. '''Therefore, bring a computer at your own risk!'''
 
 
 
''Suggested things to do before arriving in Ghana:''
 
 
 
*Unsubscribe from any unwanted/unnecessary email lists.  These consume bandwidth which is precious here.
 
 
 
*If you don't have one already, please create a Yahoo or Gmail accounts for your email correspondence in-country.  Other web-mail services, such as Hotmail, AT&T, and Comcast perform poorly in Ghana due to limited bandwidth and attachments.  Yahoo and Gmail work best here.
 
 
 
*Identify if your computer requires a voltage converter and adapter to function in Ghana.  The electricity here is 50 cycles, 220 volts which is twice what it is in America.  Most computers, already have built-in converters, but will require an adapter to work here in Ghana since the plug type is different.  You can find out if your computer has a built-in converter by looking at the small box on your computer's power cord.  There should be some information on it looking like [http://www.laptopbattery-usa.com/brand-new-dell-inspiron-5100-20v-45a-ac-power-adapter-pa9-p-1736.html this].  If the power adapter says the input AC100-240V, then that means there is a built-in converter and no voltage converter is needed to operate here in Ghana.
 
 
 
*If you don't have these already installed on your computer, download an anti-virus and/or spyware program.  Free and reliable anti-virus programs are [http://download.cnet.com/Avira-AntiVir-Personal-Free-Antivirus/3000-2239_4-10322935.html Avira] and [http://download.cnet.com/Avast-Free-Antivirus/3000-2239_4-10019223.html Avast].  A free spyware program is [http://download.cnet.com/Ad-Aware-Free-Internet-Security/3000-8022_4-10045910.html Ad-Aware].  Click on respective links to download the software.
 
 
 
*Ensure that you have the latest software updates: Windows, Ubuntu/Linux, Firefox, Anti-virus, Spyware, etc.
 
 
 
*Insure your computer.
 
 
 
*If you want to be extra cautious, bring some spare computer parts (ie. power adapter, network cables, hard drive, etc.) as quality replacement parts are difficult to find and expensive in Ghana.
 
 
 
 
 
''Computer Maintenance in Ghana:''
 
 
 
*Scan your computer for viruses and spyware on a weekly basis.  (Make sure you have the latest updates of the software)
 
 
 
*Plug your computer into an [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voltage_regulator AVR] so it doesn't permanently get damaged.  (See [http://www.peacecorpswiki.org/Electricity_in_Ghana Electricity in Ghana] for more details)
 
 
 
*Cover your computer to protect it from dust, heat, liquids, etc.
 
 
 
*Place your computer in a cool place (and no, not refrigerator cool!).
 
 
 
*Don't insert a flash drive or external hard drive into your computer without first checking it for viruses.  To prevent contracting viruses this way, [http://support.microsoft.com/kb/967715 disable auto-play].  [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AutoPlay What is auto-play?]
 
 
 
*Regularly back-up important files from your computer onto a flash drive or external hard drive.
 
<br />
 
 
 
==USB Modems in Ghana==
 
 
 
In Ghana, you can get a USB modem to plug into your laptop or desktop, and the USB modem will make a network connection with a nearby cellular tower to connect your computer to the internet. The speed is much slower than you are used to in America, but it is enough to browse websites, check email and news, etc. The only issue is whether or not you can get a network signal at your site. Fortunately, the chances of getting a network signal at your site might be better than you think, and you may even have the luxury of choosing between several providers. The cost of the internet is fairly reasonable and can generally be afforded by a PCV on a PCV salary. There are 5 different internet providers and all 5 of them have their own unique way of selling their USB modem service. You will first need to find out which one is available in your area (you really will not know until you arrive to your site), and then decide which provides the best internet package based on your internet needs.
 
 
 
Please read the [http://peacecorpswiki.org/images/USB_Modems_In_Ghana_2.1.pdf USB Modems in Ghana] (Rev 2.1) document for extensive details.
 
 
 
==Mobile Phones in Ghana==
 
 
 
If you did not know, mobile phones have [http://electronics.howstuffworks.com/cell-phone8.htm| different bands], which means it is capable of picking up the different frequency bands for networks around the world, like for example [http://www.mobileworldlive.com/maps/network.php?cid=134&cname=Ghana| in Ghana].
 
 
 
A '''Tri-Band''' GSM phone is one that supports three of the four major GSM frequency bands. America's tri-band phones typically support the 800/850, 1800, and 1900 frequency bands, but not the 900 frequency used by the largest carriers (MTN, Tigo and Vodafone, respectively) here in Ghana. Yet the burgeoning networks of Airtel and Glo do use the 1800 frequency. Furthermore, a '''Quad-Band''' GSM phone is capatible with all four bands around the world. So prior to coming to Ghana, '''check to see if your phone is compatible with the 900 frequency'''. If so, you will have to have your phone ''unlocked'' because most mobile phone carriers in America add codes onto their phones to prevent a user from accessing another carriers network. Otherwise, you can simply buy a phone during training for about $30.
 
 
 
Lastly, there are no annual or monthly mobile phone contracts in Ghana. Everything is prepay. You simply buy units at any of the numerous kiosks or 'minute men' for the chip in your phone, which are interchangeable because none of the phones in Ghana are locked. Furthermore, your generally pay less than 10 cents per minute in-country with constantly fluctuating deals that are always shown on your phone (i.e. 10% of base price per minute, 20%, etc.). '''And you will not spend more than 15 cents per minute on calls to the States'''.
 
 
 
==Electricity in Ghana==
 
 
 
Electricity is available in major cities, most towns, and even a few villages.  Expect to have electricity if you are a teacher.  Electricity in Ghana is 220-240 Volts.  Its primary socket types are the British BS-1363 and Indian.  See  [http://www.adaptelec.com/index.php?main_page=document_general_info&products_id=227  Electrical Plug/Outlet and Voltage Information] for acceptable plugs, converters, adapters, etc in Ghana.
 
 
 
'''Issues'''
 
 
 
Ghana has two major problems with electricity.  The first one is that the electricity is not reliable; it turns on and off about four times a week (more during the rainy season) for an average of 5-6 hours at a time.  Most outages are planned and conducted by the electrical companies (some companies even announce these outages in advance).  The other problem is unpredictable electrical fluctuations.  These fluctuations '''can permanently damage''' your beloved electronic devices such as computers and refrigerators.
 
 
 
'''Solutions'''
 
 
 
To deal with the first issue, you can do several things.  First, you could purchase a [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uninterruptible_power_supply UPS] (Uninterrupted Power Supply) which essentially serves as a battery that will allow you to keep electrical devices operating for a short time (like 15 minutes or so).  However, UPS's are expensive; like 250 GHS. The next solution is to use a solar charger.  However, that requires sunlight and they do not provide sufficient power for a long time.  The last solution is to do what most PCV's do: which is sit around and wait (candles are a good option in this case)!  But as you get situated at site, you will begin to notice some patterns with the electricity.  For instance, if the electricity has not been turned off by 10 a.m., then there is a good chance it will remain on the rest of the day.  Moreover, the electricity is usually on during the night time.  By noticing these patterns, you can plan your electrical usage accordingly.
 
 
 
To deal with voltage fluctuations, purchase an [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voltage_regulator AVR] (Automated Voltage Regulator).  These can be bought in Ghana for around 35-50 GHS or from a departing volunteer.  It is '''highly recommended''' to plug in '''ALL''' electronic devices especially computers, refrigerators, iPods, into the AVR.  Not doing so could risk permanently damaging your devices.  (Note: many UPS's have a built-in AVR feature.)
 
 
 
 
==GIFEC==
 
 
 
''I'm coming.''
 
 
 
==Vendors in Ghana==
 
 
 
 
 
===Accra===
 
 
 
*[http://www.pcdirectweb.com PC Direct] - Modern computer hardware store with many of the basic supplies you may need. Tel: +233 0302 780142 ([http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&source=s_q&hl=en&geocode=&q=5.561108,-0.18175&aq=&sll=5.560987,-0.181513&sspn=0.00145,0.002411&g=5.561108,-0.18175&ie=UTF8&ll=5.561059,-0.181704&spn=0.046387,0.077162&z=14 Google Map])
 
 
 
===Kumasi===
 
 
 
*The '''Aseda House''' is a multistory blue and white building located at the southern part of Adum (downtown Kumasi). It is a building where most of the computer vendors are located in Kumasi, which includes computer technicians.
 
*'''Verizon Apricot''' is located on the second floor of a building about a block from the Aseda House. It is like a small CompUSA computer store whose prices are surprisingly not much higher, if not the same, as the smaller shops in the Aseda House.
 
 
 
===Tamale===
 
 
 
''I'm coming.''
 
==ICT Initiatives in Africa==
 
 
 
*[http://www.worldpossible.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=70|The Rachel Initiative]
 
*[http://laptop.org/en/|One Laptop Per Child (OLPC)]
 
*[http://www.infodev.org/en/Publication.347.html|Quick Guide to ICT initiatives in Africa]
 
 
 
==Extra Reading==
 
 
 
''I'm coming.''
 
 
 
 
 
[[Ghana|Ghana Homepage]]
 
[[Category:Ghana]]
 

Latest revision as of 12:02, 23 August 2016

Keeping former Peace Corps Volunteers informed and involved is very important to us. The topics below are drawn from our most commonly asked questions from RPCVs. We hope you find them helpful.

How can I get assistance with financial issues, taxes, or a copy of my Description of Service (DOS)?

For Readjustment Allowance questions; verification of Peace Corps service for an employer or college (verbal and/or written); copies of your Description of Service (DOS), income tax questions and W-2 forms; loan deferment, cancellation, and economic hardship certifications; and, savings bonds, contact:

Volunteer and PSC Financial Services
800.424.8580, ext. 1770, or
202.692.1770


Where can I get assistance with Early Termination (ET) issues?

For ET consultation/personal counseling, or if you wish to ET while in the United States on home leave or emergency leave, contact:

Office of Special Services
800.424.8580, ext. 1470 or
202.692.1470


Where can I get assistance with medical issues?

If within the first six months of your COS you are having a particularly difficult time with your re-entry adjustment and feel you need a medical evaluation, contact the Office of Medical Services to discuss your situation with a medical professional.

For general medical issues, contact the Office of Medical Services.

Office of Medical Services
800.424.8580, ext. 1500 or 202.692.1500
Learn more about general RPCV health benefits.

To obtain copies of your medical records, contact:
Medical Records Department
800.424.8580, ext. 1553 or 202.692.1553

For Medical billing/reimbursement, contact:
Health Benefit Program
800.544.1802

For RPCVs with medical problems resulting from their Peace Corps service, requests for authorization of evaluation or further diagnostic work-up of service-related conditions; authorization for treatment after diagnosis of injury or illness incurred while a PCV or other illness or disability issues related to your Peace Corps service contact:

Post Service Unit
800.424.8580, ext. 1540 or 202.692.1540

For Federal Employees Compensation Act (FECA) claims or Re-entry difficulty, contact: Office of Medical Services 800.424.8580, ext. 1500, or 202.692.1500. Additional information is available from the FECA Benefits page on this site.

Sometimes RPCVs encounter problems in obtaining assistance from the Office of Medical Services or the Office of Workers' Compensation Programs (OWCP). OWCP is an agency of the U.S. Department of Labor and is responsible for administering the FECA program. An RPCV group has been formed to help RPCVs secure health care and other benefits that they are legally entitled to (see OWCP Yahoo! Group in the external links section, below).

How can I change my address?

Use our online form or send an e-mail to: rpcvupdate@peacecorps.gov

You may also send your information via regular mail. Include your name, address, social security number, country, and years of service to:

RPCV Database Manager
Peace Corps Domestic Programs
1111 20th Street NW
Washington, DC 20526


How can I find an RPCV?

Peace Corps no longer has resources available for contacting returned volunteers; however, there are a number of search resources available on the Web including Yahoo People Search and Google. The National Peace Corps Association maintains a "Seeking" area on its website under the News section. Also, every five years NPCA publishes a directory of RPCVs and former staff.


How can I locate the RPCV group nearest me?

Contact the National Peace Corps Association via their website (www.peacecorpsconnect.org) or call them at 202.293.7728. First year of membership is free to recently returned volunteers.

How can I stay connected to the Peace Corps?

There are many ways to stay connected. Visit our Stay Connected section or select from the following list:

  • Assist with recruiting potential Volunteers.
  • Help RPCVs with their career and life transition back to the United States by agreeing to be listed in the Career Information Consultants Guide.
  • Participate as a Paul D. Coverdell World Wise Schools speaker.
  • Share your experience during Peace Corps Week.
  • Become a Crisis Corps Volunteer.
  • Submit a story for the Peace Corps Web site.
  • Let Peace Corps help pay for graduate school. Learn more about the Peace Corps Fellows Program.
  • Join the National Peace Corps Association and get involved with one of its 140 geographic or country of service affiliate groups. First year of membership is free to newly returned volunteers.


Where can I order Returned Volunteer Services publications?

RVS publishes a series of career manuals. These are available free of charge to all RPCVs, but can only be mailed to addresses in the United States. Most are now available online. Learn more.


How do I apply for employment with the Peace Corps?

Visit our Jobs section for a comprehensive look at working at the Peace Corps, plus listings for open positions at Peace Corps headquarters in Washington, D.C., as well as regional, overseas, and short-term jobs.


Campus Recruiting Positions

The Peace Corps occasionally places Peace Corps campus coordinators/graduate assistants ("strategy contractors") at certain colleges and universities that are good sources for potential Volunteers.

Strategy contractors are returned Volunteers who work half-time on campus as Peace Corps recruiters while pursuing degrees. The recruiter is actually employed by the university which has been awarded a contract by the Peace Corps for recruitment activities.

If you plan to attend school, you might contact the local Peace Corps office responsible for the state in which your school is located to inquire about these positions.


Temporary and Short-Term Positions

RPCVs can inquire about current temporary openings by contacting the specific office that interests them, or by visiting the RVS career center at the Regional Recruitment Office in Rosslyn, Virginia, where these openings are sometimes posted. You may also inform any office of your availability in the event that the office has an upcoming temporary need.

For short-term jobs or consulting, the Short Term Assistance Unit (STAU) of the Peace Corps provides trainers for Pre-Service Trainings when requested by a Peace Corps overseas post. To identify trainers, the STAU maintains a database of potential short-term contractors and actively recruits new candidates. Learn more about STAU.

To submit your résumé or federal application by mail, send it to:

Short-Term Assistance Unit
of the Center for Field Assistance
and Applied Research
Paul D. Coverdell
Peace Corps Headquarters
1111 20th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20526


Associate Peace Corps Director (APCD) Jobs

Competitive APCD candidates usually will have position-specific education, several years of managerial experience, technical skills, and cross-cultural language skills. Check the Peace Corps Employment Center for current APCD openings.

Or, send a federal application or résumé to:

Paul D. Coverdell
Peace Corps Headquarters
Overseas Staff Recruitment
1111 20th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20526


What is a GS level? Where do I rank?

The Peace Corps uses a Foreign Service (FP) system rather than the GS hiring system used at many government agencies. The majority of recently Returned Volunteers may qualify for positions at the GS-5, GS-7, or GS-9 levels. This will of course depend on the amount of relevant experience and the education level of the applicant.

For more information about the federal government's GS system, see the RPCV Benefits section.


What is non-competitive eligibility?

Non-Competitive Eligibility (NCE) is a special mechanism through which RPCVs can be appointed to federal GS positions without competing with the general public in order to be hired.

What this means is federal agencies are permitted to hire a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer without posting a vacancy announcement, interviewing candidates or going through the other steps that often cause the hiring process to idle. This does not mean Returned Volunteers are entitled to federal employment. Also, state and local agencies fall under separate laws and do not have the NCE benefit.

RPCVs may provide a non-competitive eligibility letter (PDF) to prospective federal employers explaining their non-competitive eligibility.

Noncompetitive eligibility can be used at expected service agencies. USAJobs.gov lists these expected service agencies here:

http://www.usajobs.gov/EI/exceptedservice.asp#icc

For more information about the federal government's GS system, see the RPCV Benefits section.

What is an SF-50? Do I have a performance appraisal from the Peace Corps that I can use in the federal hiring process?

Federal employers sometimes ask RPCV applicants for a copy of their SF-50s. This form is called a "Notification of Personnel Action." As a PCV/RPCV, you did/do not have an SF-50.

You may use a copy of your Description of Service (DOS), instead, as a formal description of your Peace Corps work. The DOS is a factual account of your service. It does not evaluate your work as a PCV.

Most federal job applications ask for a copy of your most recent performance appraisal. Try to get a general letter of recommendation that gives an account of your work habits and character, from an overseas Peace Corps staff member familiar with your work.

It is advisable to get a letter of recommendation before you leave or shortly after you return from overseas. The longer the time since you left service, the more difficult it is to get such letters. This letter can be used in lieu of a performance appraisal.


What if I have other questions about services for former Volunteers?

Refer to the Career Resource Manual presented to you at your COS conference, or contact Returned Volunteer Services: rvs@peacecorps.gov

External Links

National Peace Corps Association a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization connecting, informing and engaging returned Peace Corps volunteers (RPCVs), former Peace Corps staff and friends of Peace Corps committed to fostering peace through service, education and advocacy.

Returned Volunteers FAQs Official US Peace Corps Website

OWCP Yahoo! Group An Online Community of RPCVs that Advocates for Better Post-Service Health Care from Peace Corps and the Office of Workers' Compensation Programs.