BY AMBROSE GAHENE
The Minister for Information and Communication Technology (ICT), Judith Nabakooba recently announced that the Government has earmarked Ushs 900 Million to buy solar tabs, internet and training of 1500 households.She said the initiative is geared at supporting children in e-learning and digital literacy use in the communities.
Ms Nabakooba added that; the project is funded under the Uganda Communications Universal Services Access Fund (UCUSAF), formerly known as Rural Communications Development Fund a semi-autonomous Fund managed by the Uganda Communications Commission formed in 2003.The Fund focuses on supporting underserved, hard to reach communities to ensure that they too are able to access ICT services It focuses on extending ICT.
She added that her Ministry is planning to make this survey in the poorest areas of the country, as per the Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS) Statistics.
“When it’s complete we will prepare a policy paper to be presented to the government which will decide to undertake the program if it’s successful,” Nabakooba added.
The Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) Executive Director Irene Kaggwa Sewankambo, said they’re to sample districts of Bulisa, Buvuma, Amudat, Kotido, Kanungu and Butaleja.
She said the supply is part of government’s undertaking for a deliberate effort to ensure that rural communities benefit from ICT Trainings
Nabakooba said through her Ministry, UCC under UCUSAF has installed ICT computer labs in over 1,000 secondary schools, tertiary institutions and universities since the start of the fund as you may know, ICT is now a major subject at O and A level.
The Virtual Science Content support under this initiative, all school laboratories supported by UCC are installed with software that enables the schools to access science content.
Minister Nabakooba says the government’s focus has been with learners at the ordinary level in key subjects such as Physics, Mathematics, Biology and Chemistry but the procurement for the project was done by the Ministry of Education and Sports and UCC supported it with funding.
She said since the commencement of this project, rural schools have improved a lot in science subjects which the Ministry of Education and Sports attributes to this intervention.
Nabakooba encouraged schools in rural communities that are challenged with ICT services to reach out to UCC and explore possibilities of benefiting from this support, adding that; as Government, they have also looked at the teacher Retooling Programme, an intervention that specifically focuses on equipping teachers in rural communities with ICT skills.
“Much of the training has focused on basic aspects of computer maintenance and broad band connectivity, the training has now expanded to target teachers training colleges because it’s here that we can grow ICT in the education sector, she added.
She pointed out that; In the Financial Year 2020/21 government is targeting to reach out to a total of 1,800 teachers and head teachers.
The UCC executive director, Irene Kaggwa also revealed that the project is also supporting ICT access and usage in key sectors such as Agriculture, and free public internet access in major cities, it also supports the informal sector, public service, people with disabilities, Uganda Police Force and others.