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Editorial: Schools’ computer initiative a good step

The ministry of Education and Sports and the Uganda Communications Commission’s Rural Communications Development Fund have embarked on a programme that will lead to some 850 government-aided secondary schools teaching computer skills.  Hundreds of schools have already got information and communication technology laboratories under the scheme. This week, the first group of teachers, from various parts of the country, is in Kampala for a seminar to train them to teach computer studies. This is a highly commendable initiative. African countries like Uganda have some of the poorest access to information and communication technologies in the world.

Today, many children in Uganda still join secondary school without ever touching – let alone seeing – a computer, or understanding what it does. This problem is especially acute in the countryside, where many children do not know what the internet is. This means that as the world, and many youngsters in Kampala and other urban centres march forward in the ICT age, a significant portion of Uganda’s children and youth are being left behind simply because of where, or to whom, they were born.

Some of these children would be exceptionally gifted individuals capable of historic achievements, but because they found themselves at the wrong end of the chain of distribution of services and opportunities, humanity misses their gifts. That does not have to be the case, and this programme could go a long way towards improving access to these technologies.

It is also commendable that a component of internet connectivity has been included in the project. Besides the excitement of having access to the huge stream of information, it means that youngsters in Acholi Bur secondary school in Pader district and Mackay College in Kampala can benefit from the latest advancements in learning and research as do their agemates in the developed countries. We urge the ministry of Education not to stop at overseeing the establishment of these important facilities, but to carefully consider putting in place structures to ensure that the information and communication technology laboratories remain functional.

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