- Covid-19 disruption has the greatest impact on education.
- Schools have closed for the better part of two years straight since Covid
- Children face the risk of discontinued education due to socio-economic factors.
- Parents and caregivers lost their jobs.
- Child sexual abuse and gender-based violence are on the rise
In 2020, Covid-19 hit globally with countries resorting to the closure of schools and lockdowns to mitigate the transmission and spread of the deadly virus. Children had to be safe. The socio-economic implications of such stringent measures cannot be underestimated. With the continued closure of schools, many children are already dropping out of school. Many school dropouts could mean a labor gap and a delinquent generation for the Ugandan community. This could result in a negative setback to the economy of our country.
During the lockdown, parents and caregivers lost jobs, businesses closed and provision declined both at family and institutional levels. This has fueled family conflicts, sexual child abuse, and gender-based violence. Many school-going girls have become pregnant and more young people are engaging in drug and substance abuse, pornography, and casual sex. Availability of smartphones and the internet in the absence of proper guidance has also contributed to these vices.
Against this backdrop, the Uganda Ministry of Education & Sports and the Education Development Partners’ (EDPs) Group in Uganda convened a half-day symposium to seize the momentum, disseminate several digitalization interventions and work on the implementation framework for the digitalization of education in Uganda. The event was graced with Opening remarks from H.E. William Carlos, Ambassador of Ireland, Chair of the Education Development Partners (EDP). The key Inspirational keynote speakers were Björn Haßler, Technical Director, EdTech Hub on the global stakes of digitalization in education; Prof. Jude Lubega, Vice-Chancellor, Nkumba University on the Ugandan context, approach, and pragmatic ambitions; Prof. Emer Ring, Dean of Mary Immaculate Primary Teaching College, Limerick, Ireland; and Carole Kavuma, Taskforce coordinator, Uganda National Institute for Teachers’ Education (UNITE) all on giving the teachers the right skills to master the digital age and ensure a successful transition to digitalization. Dr. Jane Egau, Director HTVET, Ministry of Education and Sports, in charge of the Digital Agenda presented Uganda’s Digital Agenda Strategy for the education sector. Moses Wamanga represented KAWA as a stakeholder.
The Symposium came up with about 30 key recommendations to navigate around these challenges. The aim was to initiate long-term solutions to disruptive emergencies such as the Covid lockdowns. Digital solutions to education cannot be overlooked during this Covid era. These solutions will ensure not only continued learning but also inclusion where every learner will be able to participate. In this essay, I will highlight two of the 30 as the start of a series that will run in the next three months.
First, the excursion noted that there was a need to build back better content. This is under the assumption that even after Covid-19, emergencies are likely to happen. In mitigation of Covid-19 disruption and preparation of future emergencies, there is a need to build and vamp up the Digital education component as a sure way for continued learning and productivity during emergencies. The initiative could begin with looking at the already existing digital content and school books; liaise with private content developers to digitize existing content being used by MoES in schools to give a head start to the now crippled education sector.
EDPs notes that remote learning is now a necessity to accelerate learning where physical classroom interaction is becoming less or impossible. Remote Emergencies preparedness is now an idea that cannot be wished away. EDP notes that:
‘‘remote learning should not be viewed solely as a response to the current crisis, but also as an investment in our capacity to learn about what we need to do in the future by being more prepared and more capable to handle the next crisis”.
Moses Wamanga is a Senior Education Specialist serving as a Team Lead at KAWA Uganda, an innovation and Edtech support organization that provides Professional Development services to enhance learning outcomes for educators and Learners around the country.
5 thoughts on “Symposium on Digitalization and Technology in Education”
This is very crucial and timely.
Digital intervention shall offer the best solution to such uncertainties.
Lack/inadequate of it has left everlasting impacts to the socio-economic spheres of life in the education system.
One would pray that such a program comes to effective implementation
This is a step in the most right direction,I’m so inspired. Thank you Moses Wamanga for the job well-done
Thank you so much Henry for the recognition. We appreciate your continuous contribution to the education sector through Opportunity International Edufinance in such a challenging period.
It’s a good innovation however how Will students in a rural area cope up with the letters technology
In favour of digitalising education, quality, equality and equity need to be salient features of the interventions as well as the legal issues which may be related to the digital platform as we battle acceptance and perception of the general public.