Symposium on Digitalization and Technology in Education held in Uganda

UNESCO, through the Project Office in Uganda, joins the Education Development Partners to conduct a national symposium on digitalization and Technology in Uganda. The symposium comes at the backdrop of the Covid-19 pandemic that is currently devastating the world and as such has precipitated the digitalization component of the education sector at all stages in Uganda, and other parts of the world. Globally, schools were closed, and governments have adopted distance education modalities, including digital solutions to ensure continuity of teaching and learning.

On Tuesday 1st June 2021, the Ministry of Education and Sports (MoES) and the Education Development Partners (EDPs) in Uganda organized a symposium with the aim of disseminating the various digitalization interventions and work on the implementation framework for the digitalization of education in Uganda with the overall goal of improving quality and equitable access to education for all school going children, ensuring that no one is left behind in the digital age.

The event which was held both physically and online brought together hundreds of like-minded stakeholders in the education sector ranging from officials from the Ministry of Education and Sports in Uganda, Foreign missions, institutional heads, teachers and students with the key objectives of;

Creating awareness, partnerships and synergies with the various stakeholders active in the sector: government, institutions, partners, CSOs, private sector, academics, foundations,
Establishing a clear vision and objectives for the next steps and to implement digitalization in education in Uganda in an informed way,
Providing a platform for stakeholders to exchange and showcase their innovations and measures that can be taken to maximize its potential in education, among others.

Mr. Jude Lubega, the Acting Vice Chancellor of Nkumba University, while delivering his presentation at the symposium noted with concern the ever-increasing number of school-going children that grow by the day, yet the infrastructures to accommodate them continue to remain same. He added that this exerts pressure on the existing infrastructure, thereby becoming an impediment to the adoption of ICT.

Mr. Charles Draecabo, the UNESCO National Projects Coordinator while presenting at the panel discussion, appealed to the global and national partners to join effort to support the Digital Agenda Strategy of the Ministry of Education and Sports in order to ensure that learning continues and “no one is left behind”. He highlighted the commitment of UNESCO to engage with the Global Business Partners towards Digitalization and Technology in Education.

Dr Björn Haßler, Technical Director, EdTech Hub noted that in order to save the future, it is important to collect and use the right data on education. “Strengthen education systems and workforce management with digital approaches to collect and analyze school and learner level data to better understand the needs and address equity.” He noted.

He further added there is need to strengthen teacher and workforce development by enhancing the quality, reach, and flexibility of school-based professional development for teachers focusing on student learning, including a wide range of holistic skills and drawing on appropriate and cost-effective technologies.

Mr. Joel Vincent Opio a participant from Lira City, testified during the symposium on the challenges currently being experienced. He stated, “I am afraid, there is very little impact of digitalization of Education in Uganda due to so many setbacks. For example, there is power challenge. Personally, I have a TV in my house but I can’t watch due to lack of power. Radio is just an audio device. children can learn very little through radio and yet very few can access TV, etc. What should we do?”

Activities lined up during the symposium included; Inspirational keynote speeches on the global stakes of digitalization in the education, panel discussions, testimonies from the end-users through Student’s voices, development of the roadmap to implement digitalization in education in Uganda, among others.