While ICT continues to advance in Uganda where it has penetrated many sectors including banking, and communications, the Ugandan educational system still to lags behind. Recently, The National Curriculum Development Centre (NCDC) introduced Subsidiary ICT at A’Level and Computer use in Uganda classrooms is still in its early phases. I have taught computer studies at O level since 2009. In this article I share some of the challenges I have observed facing implementation of computer education in Uganda. They are:
1. Lack of qualified teachers to teach ICT in schools; The demand for ICT learning has been tremendous and the number of teachers who are trained to teach ICT cannot meet the demand. There are more students willing to be taught computing skills than there are teachers to transfer the skills. And with the new subsidiary ICT introduced at A’ level, the situation is very worse!
2. Lack of computers; Computers are still very expensive and despite spirited efforts by the government agencies, NGO, corporate organizations and individuals to donate computers to as many schools as possible, there still remains a big percentage of the schools unable to purchase computers for use by their students.
3. Lack of electricity; Many schools are still not yet connected to electricity; Uganda being a developing country, the government has not been able to connect all parts of the country to the national electricity grid. Consequently those schools that fall under such areas are left handicapped and may not be able to offer computer studies.
4. Broken down computers; while a good number of schools have benefited from donated used computers, they have not been adequately equipped with the same on maintenance and repair, hence its very common to see a school’s computer lab full of broken down computers, some repairable and some not.
5. Obsolete computers lower the morale of both the teacher and the student; it is very common to find some schools using very old computers running on win98 or win 2000! As you know, technology keeps on evolving and advancing at a high rate, new programs are made every time. For example, most of the Ugandan the schools are still using Microsoft Office 2003 suite, yet the current version of the program is Office 2013, i.e. we are 10 years behind the rest of the world!
6. Burglary; the fact that computers are still very expensive, makes them a target for thieves who usually have ready markets to another party at a much less figure. This has made many schools to incur extra expenses trying to burglar proof the computer rooms. This extra expense makes some schools shy away from purchasing computers for their students. Computer components and hardware parts have also been commonly removed by unfaithful school computer lab attendants who sell them in the back market!
7. Fear by the administration; there is still a strong perception especially by the older generation that computers require highly skilled personnel to operate them, while this may not be the case, some school administrators also fear the infection of viruses to their computers leading to data loss.
8. Fear by other teacher, the non ICT compliant teacher may fear being rendered irrelevant by the introduction of computers in his/her class. The ‘feel’ that the teacher still remains an authority and a ‘know it all’ in class is something that most teachers cherish, and anything that makes them otherwise is deemed an enemy of the classroom.
9. Lack of internet or slow connectivity; most schools are not able to connect to the World Wide Web, due to the high costs involved in the connectivity.
10. Increased moral degradation – addiction to social networks such as facebook, internet pornography, cyber bullying and other anti-social behaviors is a worrying emerging problem.
ICT can play a significant role in equalizing opportunities for marginalized groups and communities. But the paradox is that for those groups that are unable to cross the technology divide, ICT is yet another means to further marginalize them. Education has a major role to play in resolving this problem. Thus, unless ICT becomes part of both the delivery and content of education, the disadvantage will deepen and development will suffer.
This is because the failure to use ICT is itself a result of the digital and knowledge divides that exist in Uganda. Fortunately, with Uganda’s Vision 2040 goals, the government has begun to implement strategies that will address these paradoxes.