The Uganda Communication Commission has embarked on plans to introduce a new e-learning tool that will ensure better quality teaching and learning in rural areas.
The new tool identified as Holistic eLearning Project (HeLP), is aimed at improving the quality of teaching through enhancing collaboration and knowledge sharing among schools.
As a game-changing ICT tool, HeLP will build the necessary capacity for the acquisition of better-quality teaching and learning, thereby attaining Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The project is implemented by a team of four people with immense experience in pedagogy and the use of ICTs in education, supported by an expert in monitoring and evaluation.
Every participating school recruits a focal person who runs the project’s day to day activities.
At the moment, this project is being piloted in Gayaza High School, St. Mary’s College Kisubi, Nabisunsa Girls’ School and Busoga College Mwiri.
The quartet was selected based on earlier eLearning projects they have been involved in, readiness and willingness to experiment with the new model of learning, and their relatively well-established ICT infrastructure.
Among other outcomes, the tool expects to narrow the urban-rural disparity in terms of access to quality teaching and learning.
According to Simon Bugaba, the UCC Head Regional Offices, HeLP will ensure that students in rural areas can learn modern teaching aspects from teachers in urban areas.
“We want a situation whereby a good Mathematics teacher at St. Mary’s College Kisubi is giving a lesson and students in some 100 rural schools in Karamoja can follow this lesson. That is the pilot we are doing,” said Mr Simon Bugaba, the UCC head of regional offices.
“The project will act as an outreach programme for the highly resourced schools unto the underprivileged schools in hard to reach areas,” Bugaba added.
Also, Bugaba noted that HeLP will be rolled out to other schools after the pilot phase, giving preference to those that will have utilised the Internet connectivity given to them, as well as those with a budget line for the sustainability of the connection.
However, he admitted that the sustainability of such projects remains a challenge, revealing that UCC is collaborating with the Ministry of Education and Sports to ensure that donated computer labs serve their purpose better.
The three-year project is an attempt to tackle problems associated with education in rural areas where remoteness tends to hamper the quality of education services.
Mr Kalema Golooba, a member of the project’s implementation team, said that HeLP will foster collaboration between rural and urban schools in joint learning activities through its web-based eLearning platform and video-conferencing.
“We are building teachers’ capacity to identify and develop high-quality digital multimedia content and learning objects, which would be accessible both offline and through the web-based eLearning platform,” he said.
By John Dalton Kigozi