My Take on Rogers Mukalele and ICT Teachers Association of Uganda

Since the introduction of Subsidiary ICT on the A-level curriculum in 2012, one person that has consistently pushed for the betterment of ICT secondary school sub sector is Rogers Mukalele. Rogers, as he is fondly called has been my own personal inspiration and a guiding light to the Uganda ICT teachers. He has been able to avail books (both teachers guides and students textbook books), e-learning platform, WhatsApp groups and lots of other events to help popularise the subject while also being keen on standardization and quality of learning outcomes. But before I go further, let me take you back on how Rogers ended up being my own inspiration.

Mukalele Sharebility website & Walktrack Edu Platform. While looking for ICT secondary level content, I happened to stumble on Roger’s old hpage website, designed using HTML3 but with very good content. At the time when the subject was still new and few authoritative books in bookshops, this website was the unofficial reference point for the teachers who could have access to the internet.

Rogers Mukalele wins ACIA in 2013. Angoda Emmanuel wins ACIA in 2014.  That year, like most of the ICT teachers, I had very little experience in the sector. However, my passion & addiction to newspapers brought me into contact with Rogers. Earlier in the year (something like March), I had seen an advertorial about the ACIA and I was happened to get interested. With a few boys and girls in my pioneer class, we worked decided to participate. We brainstormed about the challenges in school, and among the several ones, students zeroed on the insufficient student resources for Subsidiary ICT. We later developed a project titles “Multimedia Teaching Resources for A-level.” The project consisted of interactive Microsoft PowerPoint slides with audio of myself teaching them. It was just a simple project and students recorded my voice while I was teaching them using my very laptop (smartphones were very rare those days). We subjected and I remember I was called to attend the award giving ceremony. Unfortunately, the administration did not avail me with the necessary funds to enable me attend the event. I remember, after the event, Roger’s innovative ‘Jico Geeks’ team of Jinja College won in the category of “Rising Stars” meant for secondary school students.

After Roger’s team winning, I saw the opportunity of lifting my school through the same ACIA platform. I should note here that Lira Town College had never won any national event/trophy since it was established in 1967. In 2014, with the good foundation we had laid in the 2013 Robotics competitions, I was hopeful that the team would submit a competitive ACIA project. Our project was called “Walktrack” and it was a beautiful integration of robotics programming and mobile app development. Four schools were shortlisted to showcase their innovations at the ACIA exhibition including BUDO and 2 other schools that I can’t recall well (one was from Kabale). So, you can see that the Mukalele’s ACIA victory in 2013 inspired me to win ACIA in 2014.

Mukalele’s emerges as 2nd Best Mak Student 2017. Angoda emerges as 5th Best Teacher in Teachers Making a Difference competition.

It may not be known to many but Mukalele is one of the pillars of Uganda’s education sector, not just as a teacher but as a student as well. During Makerere University’s graduation in January 2017, Mukalele Rogers was recognised as the 2nd best student obtaining a high 1st Class degree in ICT. Once again, I saw it as healthy competition and he had quite surprised me and beaten me hands down.

It greatly motivated me to take part in the 2017 Teachers Making a Difference competition organized by the New Vision. As asked a friend (Ajal Emmanuel) to nominate me and he did that in March 2017. He accompanied the nomination with web links, pictures of various tech activities, good referees and YouTube videos. Since I was young, I have always not believed that the best everything in Uganda is in Kampala, as many people believe. I had been seeing teachers win accolades and prizes and most of them happened to be from Kampala and surrounding areas.

In May 2017, the New Vision profiled my story in a full page. I received many congratulatory calls and messages from across the country. In September, I was duly invited to attend the award-giving ceremony at the New Vision (Industrial area) and a total of 12 teachers were recognised and rewarded, from the 25 whose stories were published. I happened to the in number 5 overall, among the 5 who were rewarded with a trip to Ireland. This recognition is one the best highlights of my life so far.

Sharebility website & Walktrack Edu Platform

Mukalele has been hugely successful with his Sharebility website. I was one of the pioneer users of his Sharebility site way back in 2012. As I gained more experience and gathered many educational resources, I thought of putting them online. This resulted in the birth of Walktrack Edu Platform which I launched in March 2017.

Walktrack Edu Platform has been accessed by over 25,000 users in Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda and even users as far as Estonia, Georgia and Russia. It was also one of my strong points in the Teachers Making a Difference contest.

Mukalele is Guiding Light

To me, Rogers Mukalele is a mentor, a voice of positive change and the guiding light in the ICT secondary school sub-sector. I want to use this same platform to thank and appreciate Rogers Mukalele for his tireless, selfless and patriotic efforts and contribution to the education sector in Uganda. We should not adopt the culture of appreciating and thanking the dead. As the ICT teachers fraternity, we it owe a lot to Rogers Mukalele’s work. I believe God will reward your courage to innovate, passion to be different and stand tall amidst the hassles of everyday life.

ICT Teachers Association of Uganda (ITAU)

Early this year, Mukalele Rogers sent me a WhatsApp group link to join the ICT Teachers WhatsApp group. As it is with him, I obliged because I knew the motivation and purpose was well intentioned. In the group, members started a conversation about the need for the ICT teachers association and website. True to our intentions, the members unanimously agreed to contribute money to hosting the teachers’ website to start with. After realising enough contributions, Rogers offered to host and develop the teachers’ website.

However, the discussions about the ICT teachers association continued. Personally, I was excited because I like seeing people from different regions (tribes) congregate to discuss issues, especially those with national importance & impact. I am happy with the work so far done and also happy with the elected leadership.

In September 2018, Rogers invited me to speak at the National Capacity Building Workshop organised by the ICT teachers association. However, I was unable to attend due to other pressing priority commitments & struggles of family life. I very much intend to participate in organising and attending one of those kind of gatherings in the near future so I can provide vital views and interventions that I believe will enable us drive the association and our country forward.

As I conclude, I would like provide below here below some take home points for teachers.

  • The teachers should offer solutions & interventions to problems in their schools and surrounding communities. Start a student club, a community intervention, church event etc. where you think you can put your ICT skills to good use. This thing of complaining about salaries and material things will not enable us rise to our full potential. Although recognition of your contribution is important, remember the appetite for material things and money is infinite.
  • Teachers should be active readers and writers. In this digital era, there are a lot of tools that teachers can use to gain more knowledge (read) and a lot more others to publish (write). Document your new interventions in class, school or even publish your ideas in newspaper column and blog. Writing enables you to leave a trail of your activities. You need people to know what you are doing presently, what you did before and what you will do in the future. Go ahead and write your own story, from your own perspective.
  • Embrace opportunities to experience something new. This could be volunteering in small NGO, piloting a new programme in school, attending a workshop. Being open minded is better for you, it shows you value positivity and optimistic about the future. This in turn makes you a better person, better teacher, better wife / husband and a good servant of God.
  • The students you teach are the future leaders and workers of this country. Treat them with respect, humility and give them hope. I have discovered over the years that the subject called “inspiration” is very important to students. I believe that high achievement take place in framework of high expectations. High expectations in terms of good behaviour, academic marks and co-curricular outcomes.
  • Enrol for further education. It can be a free online course, Post Graduate Diploma (PGD) or even a Master’s degree if you can afford. They say university education is the heart of the education in any country. It is also said that “the best preparation for tomorrow is doing your best today.”

And personally, I believe that “making people knowledgeable is the only way to developing people.”  While many people in Uganda only glorify the rich and not the intelligent, more knowledge is the only wealth that provides you with lifelong dividends. Educate yourself first and educate other later. Good rule.