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Ouganda InfoDevrapport

UGANDA

Overview

As it adopts ICT in education, Uganda faces the same challenges as most developing economies - poorly developed ICT infrastructure, high bandwidth costs, an unreliable supply of electricity, and a general lack of resources to meet a broad spectrum of needs. However, with the rapid emergence of wireless network capacity and the ubiquitous growth of mobile phones, the context of the infrastructure is changing. A national ICT policy is in place and an education sector ICT policy is before Cabinet. The Ministry of Education and Sports is taking steps to co-ordinate ICT development and has allocated resources to support implementation of its ICT strategy.

Country Profile

While Uganda has had significant economic growth over the last decade, with a concomitant reduction of poverty, it remains one of the poorest countries in the world. It is, nevertheless, on track to meet the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) of universal primary education and, according to the 2006 National Report,2 is committed to achieving the MDGs of universal completion of secondary schooling by 2015 and elimination of gender disparity in both primary and post-primary levels.

The Education System

The Uganda system is based on an initial seven years of primary education. Students who successfully complete primary schooling have the option of enrolling in four years of lower secondary or taking a three-year craft course in a technical school. Those who successfully complete the lower secondary level may then choose to enroll in the two year upper secondary program after which they may progress to university studies or a technical/vocational program. Universal primary education was introduced in Uganda in 1997,6 resulting in a near doubling of enrolments over the next year and creating a need for more schools, more teachers, more learning materials, and curriculum reforms.7 A commitment to introduce universal free secondary education was made during the last election in 2006. This has since been expanded to include universal post-primary education and training. An implementation plan is being prepared. Tertiary education includes 20 universities (four public), five colleges of commerce, five technical colleges, 10 teachers' colleges, and several specialized training insititutes. The tertiary sub-sector is growing very rapidly and, according to the National Council for

Higher Education, it is neither integrated nor diversified, and it lacks a credit system to ease student mobility among disciplines and institutions. A strategic plan to address most of these issues is in the pipeline.

Infrastructure

Liberalization of the telecommunication sector in 1997 resulted in significant growth in infrastructure and access, but this occurred primarily in the urban areas. An analysis of the telecommunications sector undertaken in 200413 concluded the following:

· In terms of the general population, there was almost no access to computers or the Internet outside the major urban centers.

· Access to electricity was a serious constraint to ICT use because 97.7% of rural and 59.9% of urban households had no access.

· Mobile voice telephony was the exclusive means of communication for the typical Ugandan citizen and there were hardly any fixed line services in people's homes.

· The spread of mobile phones coincided with an increase in the number of private FM radio stations that has enabled a synergy between the two technologies. The stations provide near total national coverage in local languages with programs ranging from political debates to health issues, agriculture, education, gender issues, and the environment. Listeners participate by calling the station with  comments and questions.

The study also noted that in 2003 Uganda had created the Rural Communication Development Fund to facilitate implementation of the country's policy of universal access to communication technologies. The Fund aims to encourage development of infrastructure in rural areas by offering subsidies and grants to investors so that certain objectives can be met, such as: internet access points in all districts will be covered by 2006; universal access to telephony changed the target from one public access point per 5,000 inhabitants to one per 2,500 inhabitants; multipurpose community telecentres, 20 telecentres in 20 districts by 2007; ICT training centers and Internet cafés will cover all the districts of Uganda by June 2006; and district Web sites are now active and can be accessed to provide information about health, agriculture, education, commerce, etc. The installation of public pay phones in 316 selected sub-counties across the country has been achieved since 2004.

ICTs in Education

According to a report based on 2003 data, Uganda had only 106 of its 13,353 primary and 2,070 secondary schools connected to the Internet. Uconnect and SchoolNet Uganda, two major NGOs involved in ICTs for schools, led these projects. Connectivity is much more prevalent in urban than rural schools, basically because access to ICT infrastructure for schools mirrors the national rural-urban divide. The more specific factors constraining connectivity in rural areas are the overall poor communications infrastructure, low electricity coverage, and high capital costs involved in setting up a computer laboratory. No doubt this has changed since 2003, and will continue to change, as access to

electricity and connectivity improves. Although many schools have computers as a result of initiatives with NGOs, religious organizations, and international donors, few are connected to the Internet. Those that are in place are typically used for teaching basic computer skills and administrative purposes.

The Ministry of Education and Sports has become much more proactive over the last two years as a result of the recent policy emphasis on ICT. For example, in its Review for 2005-2006, the ministry listed the following achievements: Over 300 teachers have been trained; Three generators and 300 computers have been provided to NEPAD e-schools; Software and upgrades for 6,000 desktop computers already in schools have been procured; Preferential rate agreements with Uganda Telecom for voice and data connectivity have been secured; and Work has started on introducing ICT into the teaching and learning process in primary and secondary schools.

Computers are typically set up in a one-room lab with 10 to 20 machines. A television receiver with a VCR may also be included depending on reception capability. Classes generally have scheduled use of the lab two or three times per week. Overcrowding is common because of large class sizes.

The tertiary education sector is not particularly integrated at this point and consequently there are no overarching ICT policies or implementation programs. Typically, initiatives are taken on an individual institution basis with the ministry and/or with other partners. However, in terms of the adoption of ICT, the ministry's 2005-2006 Annual Review reports an increase in ICT accessibility among tertiary institutions:  E-mail addresses increased from 79 in 2004 to 97 in 2005; Institutions with Web sites increased from 34 in 2004 to 42 in 2005; The computer-student ratio in Makerere University has improved to 1:15 on average; Mbarara University for Science and Technology upgraded its connectivity bandwidth to enable access for all faculties; and Kyambogo University finalized its policy document on ICT.

Distance education at the tertiary level has been underway in Uganda for some years, provided by both public and private institutions. Makerere and Kyambogo Universities are particularly active and both are partners with the African Virtual University. Makerere University's B.Ed. (External) is specifically developed for upgrading teachers to the bachelor's level and is the largest distance education program for teachers in the country. A recent survey of students enrolled in the distance education program at Makerere University concluded that while the potential of ICT use is huge, student access to the infrastructure is a major constraint. The development of an open university has been under consideration for some time and, according to the ministry's 2005-2006 Review, it will be actively considered in 2007. However, as has pointed out, there are a number of constraints that need to be addressed if ICT-based distance education is to be viable in the country.

Current ICT Initiatives and Projects

Project: Providing donated computers to schools plus capacity-building support to recipient local

partners.

· Organization(s): World Computer Exchange in partnership with local organizations.

·  For more information: www.worldcomputerexchange.org/ 

Project: The Village Phone Project

Provides micro loans to eight local businesses to enable establishing a community phone service. Testing of additional technologies will be done.

·         Organization(s): Grameen Foundation in partnership with MTN Uganda

·         For more information:

 www.grameenfoundation.org/where_we_work/sub_saharan_africa/uganda/village_phone_uganda/ 

Project: I-Network Uganda

National network of individuals and organizations that act as a platform for sharing knowledge and information on applying ICTs. One of its programs, DistrictNet, focuses on providing public information using ICTs.

·         Organization(s): ICT4D practitioners including IICD project partners; policy makers such as ministries; students and teachers; NGOs; rural communities

·         For more information: www.i-network.or.ug/ 

Project: The spread of mobile phones and FM radio stations has enabled the development of an

interactive public discussion forum in local languages on topics such as politics, health issues,

agriculture, education, gender issues, and the environment.

·         Organization(s): Over 100 FM radio stations

·         For more information: http://researchictafrica.net/index.php?catid=18 

Project: Uconnect

Non-profit NGO that aims to advance public education by using ICT to improve the quality and efficiency of communications. Activities focus on providing computer connectivity and training for schools and recently on providing ICT training to officials of 22 mostly rural districts.

· Funding sources: Multi-sponsors are involved such as telecom, hardware, learning software, transportation, and Internet provider companies.

·         For more information: www.uconnect.org/ 

Project: The Reflect ICT resource centre has been equipped with computers (Internet connected),

printers, digital camera and video, generator, UPS, public address system, WorldSpace radio, and

solar-operated radios, along with other office equipment including a photocopier. The aim is to

facilitate access to agricultural, health, and commercial information based on needs that the

community identified.

· Funding sources: DIFD, and community contributions.

·         For more information: http://217.206.205.24/Initiatives/ict/home.htm 

Project: Phase I of the Connectivity for Educator Development Project (Connect Ed)

Set up computer centers and Internet points of presence at Kyambogo University (KyU) and at eight

primary teachers' colleges (PTCs). It provided computer literacy and materials development

training for teacher educators, and began to re-purpose the print-based national PTC curriculum

into an interactive, accessible online version. Connect-ED Phase II builds on the infrastructure

established in Phase I but with closer collaboration with the Ministry of Education and Sports and

KyU. The focus is on sustainability and long-term ICT strategies for KyU and the PTCs and on

continuing to provide computer training and completing the digitization and enhancement of the

national PTC curriculum.

· Funding sources: Phase I was funded by USAID. Initial partners included Computer Frontiers (for Internet connectivity), World Links (for Development for training in the colleges), Schools Online (for equipment procurement), and Academy for Educational Development (for the projects at ITEK). Phase II is supported by International Education Systems, a division of Education Development Center, an international, non-profit organization.

·         For more information: http://ies.edc.org/ourwork/project.php?id=3448 (For an evaluation report of Phase I for lessons learned and recommendations, see www.eduaction.net/connect-edtext.pdf.)

Project: The National Curriculum Development Centre (NCDC)

Established the CurriculumNet project in an effort to create electronic learning materials using CD-Roms. The project is now using ICTs to provide instructors with multimedia materials they can use in selected core subjects. Government approval was given in 2004 for ICT-based curriculum materials in mathematics and geography for primary schools and mathematics and science for secondary schools, thus enabling use of the material by all schools in the country.

·         Organization(s): SchoolNet Uganda

· Funding sources: IDRC

·         For more information: www.idrc.ca/en/ev-64993-201-1-DO_TOPIC.html 

Project: A project using VSATs to offset the high cost of connectivity and to demonstrate the use

of ICT-equipped schools as school-based community learning centers.

·         Organization(s): World Links, Schools Online

· Funding sources: Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and SchoolNet Uganda

·         For more information: www.schoolnetuganda.sc.ug/homepage.php?option=vsatproject 

Project: The British Council has launched a project to link schools in Uganda to other schools in

Africa and the UK. The project, code-named Connecting Classrooms, is aimed at co-coordinating

ICT, science, vocational skills, global citizenship, and cultural science in the schools.

· Funding sources: The British Council

·  For more information: www.britishcouncil.org/uganda-governance-connecting-classrooms.htm 

Project: The Women of Uganda Network (WOUGNET)

A place to share news, information and activities on female-related issues in Uganda. WOUGNET's goal is to promote the use of ICTs by women's organizations and individuals for the better being of Ugandan women.

·         Organization(s): Three levels of membership: individuals, women's organizations based in Uganda, and affiliated organizations interested in ICT4D.

· Funding sources: WOUGNET is supported by a number of volunteers, including those based in Uganda as well as online. There is no fee for WOUGNET membership.

·          For more information: www.wougnet.org/aboutus.html 

Project: Improving health care delivery through continuing medical education (CME) for rural

health workers by using ICTs and multimedia. The major focus is on gathering and repackaging

high-quality health information for dissemination through ICTs. Training in the use of basic ICTs

is provided.

·         Organization(s)/funding sources: Uganda Martyrs University, Faculty of Health Sciences, and the three hospitals of the districts of Itojo in Ntungamo, Nkozi in Mpigi and Mutolere in Kisoro

· Funding sources:  Co-sponsored by Cordaid and IICD

·         For more information: www.iicd.org/projects/articles/iicdprojects.2005-12-09.7746900390 

Project: ICT maintenance facilities for rural Uganda have been established at five technical

colleges. An ICT maintenance facility will be set up at each college to provide technical support

and to introduce a new course called ICT Installation and Maintenance to train technicians.

·         Organization(s): The Uganda Institute of Information and Communications Technology

· Funding sources:  International Institute for Communication and Development.

·         For more information: www.iicd.org/projects/articles/iicdprojects.2005-07-29.8068367475 

Project: Makerere University Faculty of Computing and Information Technology has won an

Africa Union (AU) bid to create an e-network that will provide connectivity for eastern and

central African countries to a pan-African network through fiber optics and wireless links. This

will enable the sharing of resources such as BlackBoard digital learning software, backups, and elearning courses. The faculty has a department that trains staff in e-learning and supports elearning in the whole of the university.

·         For more information: http://cit.ac.ug/site/downloads/issue4.pdf

Project: SchoolNet Uganda

Mission is to make graduates of Uganda's education system more globally competitive. SchoolNet Uganda supports educators and learners by providing pedagogical and technical expertise and advice, infrastructure and human resources, coordination, training and capacity-building, and developing local and international partnerships.

·         Organization(s): Multiple partners depending on projects

·         For more information: www.schoolnetuganda.sc.ug/homepage.php?option=home

 

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