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Ugandan schools likely have a computer although training lags

May 24, 2012  »  EducationNo Comment

Computing in schools walks a fine line. It used to be that simply having a computer in an African school was considered an achievement. A few years later, we have all realized that it takes more than a box to transform the youth. That is, many assets need to fall in place before the e-learning or a computer studies program can truly succeed. The main requisites are:

  1. Electricity (main, generator, solar)
  2. Computer (one, then multiple)
  3. Internet (not required for computer studies, but essential for e-learning)
  4. Teacher (trained to use the computer)
  5. Students interested in computers (not hard to find)

A recent article in Uganda’s The Observer sheds light on the shortage of both computers and trained teachers in the nation’s schools. In fact, a survey by the Uganda Communications Commission finds that what computers are available are primarily used by administrators instead of by students.

Interesting findings include:

  • Over one-quarter of the 664 surveyed schools had no computer
  • There is one computer for every 15 computer studies students
  • Nearly half of the schools had no teachers teaching computer studies
  • 5,288 of 18,693 teachers (28%) are deemed computer literate
  • An estimated half of the schools had an Internet connection

More worrisome is a quote from Dr. Agnes Rwashana Semwanga, a computer science lecturer with Makerere’s College of Computing and Information Sciences who says:

Strange but true, I have interfaced with students who enroll for IT courses at the university but have never even touched the mouse. And interestingly some of these students come from schools that already have computers.”

To the Ugandan Ministry of Education and Sport’s credit, a program is in place to further train computer studies teachers with the current syllabus. And, UCC is making a concerted effort to bring computers to the schools; the Rural Communications Development Fund is cited as the biggest source of computers for the Ugandan schools. Fear that urban areas are outpacing rural neighbors. Still, Uganda is not alone in this challenge.

Source: Talemwa, Moses, “ICT training: schools plod through shortages,” The Observer, May 20, 2012.