Academics gathered for a 6-day workshop at Umubano Hotel, Kacyiru, last week, to discuss ways in which digital education can be assimilated in schools.
Participants looked at how ICT can be embraced in the education sector, the specific challenges affecting this drive in various countries and possible solutions.
Harriet Kagezi, an education officer in the Teachers Education Department, Ministry of Education and Sports Uganda, said that it’s time that Africa became modern as far as education is concerned by shifting from pens and pencils to the digital world.
“We want these advantages to be exploited as we implement digital education in East Africa and all developing countries,” she said.
Sarah Jansen, a programme officer at Life Academy, an organisation that specialises in ICT and pedagogical development and provides training in sustainable development, said that there is need to involve the government and NGOs like United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) to make sure that the financial requirements are provided for.
“With the help of stakeholders in infrastructure, Internet connectivity, computers and other related fields, the idea can be sustained,” she said.
Speaking at the forum under the theme, International training programme on ICT and Pedagogical development, Rezaul Haque, an associate professor at the Government Teachers Training College, Pabna, Bangladesh, said that very few teachers use ICT in developing countries, though adapting to technology in schooling would improve the quality of teaching.
He said that to improve the quality of teaching, the allocation of funds for smooth Internet connectivity and the availability of electricity in schools is necessary.
Jackie Namakula, an English and Literature teacher at Mengo Secondary School in Kampala, Uganda, said that the teachers and education policymakers need to be interactive and conduct study tours to other countries that have excelled in the digital education drive.
She added that teachers from the region are discussing the implementation of the E-platform, an application system that is designed to create a virtual learning environment.
“We are learning how students and teachers in different countries can discuss their different subjects and topics without moving about. Through the platform, a student in Rwanda will be able to interact with fellow students in Tanzania or Uganda and beyond by using this software. The application hasn’t yet started operating but in a few years to come, the system will be functioning,” she said.
Pontien Macumi, a teacher at Rukara College of Education in Gahini, Kayonza District, said that the government has supported digital education as they have managed to connect fibre optics, the fastest form of broadband technology, at the school.
Macumi said each student has their own computer and access to the Internet. However, emphasis should also be put on training teachers on digital education since a big number still believe in old methods.