Address teachers’ computer illiteracy

This week, the headteachers of public primary schools in Masaka District were given an ultimatum to acquire computer skills or risk losing their jobs.

As the district education officer rightly stated, it is a shame in this digital age that the country has education personnel at headteacher level who lack basic computer skills.

Before we brand the headteachers lazy individuals who lack the drive to improve themselves, perhaps we need to understand the problem.

Why is it that these otherwise literate individuals who have been through a tertiary institution are unable to work their way around a computer? Well, the lack of computers on which to hone these skills is one obvious obstacle.

Statistics show that in the rural areas, the shortage of computers is real. According to the Uganda National Household Survey (UNHS) of 2012-2013, among the primary schools, only one in every 10 had a computer.

However, there was variation between the rural and urban areas, with about one third in the urban areas having a computer compared to only three per cent in the rural areas.

Given the difficulties in access to equipment, is it right and fair to leave it to the teachers to manage this skills gap? Will a threat to sack those who are not in compliance work the magic? As the majority employers of primary school teachers, the government should put in place some interventions to address this state of affairs.

The UNHS statistics of 2012-2013 show that the majority of primary schools were managed by Government (71 per cent) while about 29 per cent were privately managed (private schools and NGOreligious schools). More than three quarters (77 per cent) of the schools in rural areas are managed by government compared to about half (52 per cent) in the urban areas.

Compared to the household ownership of mobile phones which was at 58 per cent at the time of the 2012-2013 household survey, ownership of computers was at a mere two per cent.

The suggestion to adopt a cooperative arrangement where teachers form groups and buy a computer is an innovative approach but we need to adopt a nationwide policy on improving access to information technology, which ensures greater access to computers for all. We cannot hope to become the great industrialised nation we aspire to be if the people educating our future generation are technologically ignorant or blunt.



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