Ministry of Education backs down from formulating ICT policy :: Uganda Radionetwork

Dr Jane Egau Okou, Director of Higher, Technical and Vocational Education and Training at the Ministry of Education, explains that the ministry has chosen to build on the current national ICT strategy rather than develop a sectoral policy.

After years of work, the Ministry of Education and Sports has decided to abandon the idea of ​​developing an Information and Communication Technology-ICT policy in education.

The ICT in education policy was at the consultation stage. The ministry was to present the draft to interested groups and stakeholders for evaluation before sending it to the cabinet.

Dr Jane Egau Okou, Director of Higher, Technical and Vocational Education and Training at the Ministry of Education, explains that the ministry has chosen to build on the current national ICT strategy rather than develop a sectoral policy.

She says the new development was suggested during their most recent sessions, with some officials and experts observing that developing another policy would be a duplication of existing frameworks.

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Following the outbreak of the COVID-19 epidemic, which forced the closure of classrooms, actors in the education sector, mainly educational institutions, began to rely on digital tools to ensure the continuity of learning.

The majority of educational institutions have used digital solutions to fill the void. To keep students in touch with their teachers throughout the lockdown, schools have used a variety of virtual platforms, digital classrooms and resources, including Zoom, WhatsApp, broadcast media, Microsoft Teams and others. .

However, as the country expands the adoption of technology to enhance learning, several important concerns needed to be addressed to harmonize the application of ICT. These included digital pedagogy for teachers, content quality assurance mechanisms, access to information and the safety of minors when using digital.

However, according to Dr. Egau, after realizing that the above issues could be addressed without new policy, “people with fresh thinking” decided to develop guidelines and regulations for the education sector. using the current national ICT policy.

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Uganda developed its initial national ICT policy in 2003. The policy framework document recognized that Uganda should embrace the goal of “lifelong education for all” and address improving literacy and human resource capacity building.

The 2014 national policy further recommended reviewing curricula at all levels to pedagogically integrate ICT into the teaching and learning process, and improve the level of investment in ICT educational equipment. , software as well as broadband connectivity of primary, secondary and tertiary institutions among a few others. elements.

Several education ministry officials who preferred not to be named said there is a good chance that the idea of ​​abandoning sectoral policy in favor of national policy may have been imported.

“It is possible that this is an imported idea. I mean someone might have been inspired by how other countries are doing it. But, I think it is necessary to localize it purely if it is going to work for us,” the official noted.

Indeed, the idea of ​​drawing strategies and regulations from national ICT policy is already in force in many countries, including Kenya. Information obtained from a World Bank study indicates that Kenya is one of the countries with a sophisticated ICT in education strategy and implementation plan.

It is reported that Kenya has incorporated the said plan into the National ICT Policy which was developed through a consultative process with stakeholders. The plan includes cost estimates, timelines with measurable results, and responsible agencies specified.

The need for ICT in education policy intensified earlier this year when a section of schools in urban areas enabled their students to use smartphones to research different topics, as required by the abbreviated lower secondary curriculum.

Minister of State for Higher Education, John Chrysostom Muyingo, interrupted the decision by saying that the use of smartphones by learners in the school environment would only be done after the government had developed a policy that would guide ICT gadgets by learners.

“We want to address this challenge holistically in the context of a broader framework that will facilitate the development of supportive regulations on the use of mobile phones among other ICT tools in schools. We want to fully embrace the use of ICT throughout the education system in an age-appropriate way that is beneficial and safe for the learner, the teacher and the school environment,” Muyingo noted.

Although the Ministry of Education is accelerating the use of ICT in education, several policymakers and educators have warned against jumping on the wave of digital learning before putting in place the required infrastructure.