Embrace relief, an American non-governmental organization working with Nile Humanitarian Development Agency (NHDA), last weekend put smiles to the faces of thousands of students and teachers in ten schools by donating 156 brand new computers.
The donation was made possible through a project supported by Embrace Relief, an international charity whose ‘Access Computers Technology project’, seeks to improve education in Africa, especially where access to the internet is limited.
During the handover ceremony held at the newly built Kitala secondary school in Kitala along Entebbe road, a jubilant mood filled the atmosphere as
Rosemary Ssenninde, the Woman MP for Wakiso and the State Minister for Primary Education, who officiated the handover event, unveiled the brand new computers in the presence jubilant parents, teachers and students.
Ssenninde paid tribute to the donors Embrace Relief, whose Access Computers Technology and their local implementing partners NHDA, she said, will greatly contribute to the government’s mission of skills development through focus on science subjects.
“The government reviewed the lower secondary curriculum to focus on skills development. So we’re happy that these computers have come with pre-installed science programs which are approved by the National Curriculum Development Centre,” said Minister Ssenninde.
And as Senior 4 students prepare to sit their final exams starting April 1, teachers from some of the beneficiary schools could not hide their excitement at the fact that the computer donation will save them money let alone the embarrassment of having to sit computer exams in rented premises.
As teacher Anne Newumbe, the Deputy Headmaster of the event’s host Kitala S.S testified, they’ve been spending UGX1.5 million per term to rent the computer lab at Kisubi Savio, a primary school, for their students to be allowed to do their computer studies exams.
“Moving students to do exams away from the school, for lack of facilities, was not only a challenge for their safety, it was costly especially for public schools like ours. It also discouraged students from pursuing computer studies as a course,” said Newumbe.
Issa Kirarira, the Executive Director of NHDA expressed gratitude at Embrace Relief, for having made the donation, noting that it will not only improve computer literacy, it will reduce gender inequalities by increasing access to opportunities for men and women.
“Digital literacy is essential for expanding quality education and promoting sustainability. That’s why the United Nations sustainable development goal 9, emphasises the importance of improving internet access and digital literacy in the developing world,” said Kirarira.
Indeed the ACT-US project has special interest in enrolling women into the computer literate population, considering the liberating power of the internet coupled with the powerful role of women especially in African societies.
By targeting schools when girls are still easily accessible and ready to learn, the project envisions a transformative effect in Africa.
As Kirarira observed: “Our project largely focuses on providing ICT access to increase digital literacy for women by starting in the classroom. Compared with the rest of the world, despite the many interventions, Africa remains the only continent whose digital gender gap has widened since 2013.”
According to the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), the proportion of women using the internet is about 25% less than that of their male counterparts.
Kirarira expressed hope that if properly used; the project could be used as an example to lobby for similar support so that they can contribute to lifting an estimated 600 million women globally into the digital literate category, with skills and tools to break free from poverty, child malnourishment and unemployment.
And the fact that a fellow woman, Ssenninde, whose proven record as a mobiliser, and a successful politician, is championing this liberation movement, will likely give it new impetus and attention among the girls who look up to her as a role model.