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Monday, 18 August 2014

Government should prioritize ICT based learning in Uganda

By Sam Agona
So far there has been a slow adoption and implementation of e-learning in Uganda. Despite the various platforms offered by huge computing companies such as Microsoft’s live@edu which offer the opportunity to virtually do everything online and more importantly allow for collaboration which can save work force a great deal. it also offers cloud disk space of about 35GB which can work for beginning institutions. This typically failed to pick up in Uganda because of poor implementation.

Students at an urban school enjoying computer lessons
In the recent developments, training has been conducted to headmasters and DEOs. The question is how far have they used the knowledge they have attained?
A huge setback is that rural schools lack the basic facilities such as power to implement elementary ICT/ e-learning platforms unlike Kenya where NairobiNet started piloting as early as 2000 and the One Laptop Per Child project is taking root, this is equally happening in Rwanda,  however, Uganda has not been mindful of pace. Only a few universities have either well developed e-learning systems or central repositories.
A lot has been documented in around; having read an open-source implementation strategy by Victor Van ReijswoudA hybrid e-learning for rural secondary schools in Uganda by P. O. Lating, great ideas which have so well remained on paper.
Way forward:
To promote collaborative and ICT-based learning, like Cape Verde did with the domain, learning institutions should be able to host on at no cost. This will be a pull factor for utilization of online services.
Government should encourage learning institutions to use collaborative tools like Microsoft live@edu an initiative government started itself; proven learning management systems like moodle and several other learning content repository tools.

MTN Uganda Mazen Mroue CEO doing a demo during e-learning launch at one of the schools in Kampala
Government has done something like the provision of the digital learning curriculum through Cyber School but should be made available and implemented. Government through UCC has also worked on computerizing some schools through the RCDF project however more schools need to be covered and also, software platform as well as study material/ curriculum have to be made available.
There is ardent need to promote power sources alternate to hydro power, for rural schools, solar is the best option. Having an assured power source is a step forward for e-learning.
Training should be done to the right people; head teachers and class teachers since they are the users. With the shortage of teachers, e-learning is a lead the process as means of overcoming the gap hence a boost the education system.  
Author in a celebrant mood after setting up Inveneo’s sponsored Knowledge Center at Unyama Teacher’s Training College in Gulu
There is ardent need to invest and implement digital content/ virtual labs like eureka. This is very instrumental for content sharing, leveraging knowledge distribution through standardized content and pupil retention in class.

Note: this article is an improved version of an article that was published on the 29th February, 2012 in the Daily Monitorauthored by the same writer. 

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