The Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) is spearheading a country-wide ICT capacity building programme through workshops to skill secondary school teachers.
Organised by the Rural Communications Development Fund (RCDF) in partnership with Kisubi Associated Writers Agency (KAWA), the workshops aim to deepen the integration of ICTs in teaching and learning.
Three such workshops have so far been held in Mbale, Jinja and Gulu, with Moroto lined up for later this week. Further training will take place in Masindi, Arua, Mbarara, Kabale, Fort Portal, Kampala, Masaka and Mubende in the coming weeks.
At Civil Service College in Jinja on Thursday last week, KAWA facilitators trained teachers in the installation and use of open source software, among other ICT skills.
Other areas covered by the programme are; computer usage and monitoring software, computer maintenance, eLearning, ICT clubs in schools, and digital libraries.
Mr. Geoffrey Ssengendo, the RCDF Head Technical Services who represented the Director Nyombi Thembo, told ICT teachers that they need to acquire digital skills beyond merely word processing and spreadsheets software.
He explained that 21st Century teachers need more advanced digital competencies, including cloud storage and sharing solutions, social media, web editing, image editing and presentation software.
“This workshop is about building the capacity of ICT teachers, who are the persons in charge of the [school] labs, to monitor usage of the ICT infrastructure by their students, empower them to initiate and drive the activities of ICT clubs in their schools,” said Mr. Ssengendo.
The workshops, Mr. Ssengendo added, will expose teachers and learners to digital libraries and information literacy, among other digital resources.
At the end of it all, he said, ICT teachers will be equipped with the relevant software and hardware maintenance skills as well as basic knowledge on troubleshooting.
Mr. Eria Kisambira, the Jinja District Education Officer, urged teachers to always undertake adequate research to avoid giving outdated or inauthentic content to students.
He noted that many teachers are concerned that their ICT knowledge level might not match that of their ‘digitally native’ students.
Mr. Kisambira further said that cyberbullying, IT security and identity theft are all areas which teachers should have a good understanding of in order to be able to help their students deal with those issues if they arise.
“The overall aim is that pupils become responsible and resilient users of technology, able to make confident and safe use of the web and of other internet-based services,” he said.
Ms. Agnes Naddembe, a Senior Education Officer, Department of Secondary Education, in the Ministry of Education and Sports, said the ministry has set aside funds to recruit more ICT teachers.
She added that the ICT teachers undergoing training will act as ambassadors in their schools and should aim to get their colleagues to embrace ICTs too.
“They did not come here to only learn but also to be ambassadors because ICT has come and it is going to stay. It is the best skill one can have now to deliver best learning outcomes,” she said.
Ms. Naddembe warned that teachers without ICT skills, even those teaching other subjects, might soon find themselves unemployable.
“The best is one who is going to be strategic, embrace ICTs because that is the way to go,” she advised.