"Be Awesome": A Youth-Led Mental Health Program for Ugandan Schools
Mental health is an essential aspect of overall well-being, yet many young people in Uganda face significant challenges when it comes to th…
In order to ensure learning beyond the immediate, physical environment, Uganda needs to incorporate ICTs in education and adopt digital learning as an alternative form of learning. That is the only way we can secure education in the event of another unforeseen crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic that has left 15 million students in Uganda out of school for almost a year.
On the 16th of June every year, the world celebrates the Day of the African Child, a day that honours the thousands of courageous young activists who participated in the Soweto Uprising on June 16th 1976. The Soweto Uprising was a series of demonstrations where more than 20,000 South African students in the township of Soweto took to the streets, demanding to be taught in their own language. In response, armed police officers responded by murdering hundreds of protesters. Now a public holiday in South Africa, referred to as Youth Day, it’s also recognized as International Day of the African Child throughout globally. The day pays attention to the barriers African children face in order to receive a quality education. The day also raises awareness on the situation of children in Africa and the rights of African children as stipulated under article II to XXII of the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child.
2021 Theme: ”30 years after the adoption of the Charter: accelerate the implementation of Agenda 2040 for an Africa fit for children”.
Every year, the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACERWC) selects a theme. This helps in evaluating what has been done, and what is ought to be done to strengthen the implementation of Agenda 2040.
The Agenda 2040 is guided by 10 aspirations which strengthen the Committee’s implementation of its mandate in a deliberate and structured manner, within a fixed time, and focusing on achieving specific goals by 2040. Each engagement with the aspirations provided for in Agenda 2040 is a step towards the implementation of the African Children’s Charter.
For this particular event, we chose to focus on Aspiration 10 which states that "Every child benefits fully from quality education."
Our Day of the African Child 2021 celebrations:
On the 16th and 17th of June, 2021, PASSAGE with support from the Digital Human Rights Lab held two workshops with 15 participants each day, to build the capacity of teachers and students in rural Jinja, to be able to integrate ICT in their education.
Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, the education of 15 million students in Uganda has suffered catastrophic effects. On several occasions, there has been an abrupt stop to education and syllabuses per schedule uncompleted, which has threatened the future of education due to the fact that the majority of the students and teachers can conduct remote teaching and learning through technology.
Despite the recognition that ICT can help to improve the teaching and learning process, the adoption and use of ICTs are still very poor in low income countries such as Uganda. Uganda as a country has not yet fully grasped the idea of using ICTs to accelerate e-learning, which would have been an ideal alternative to enable continuity of learning. While some tech forward schools are already taking steps towards digital learning, there’s a concern about students and teachers especially those in rural areas whose schools, teachers, and parents/carers may not be tech savvy with limited internet connectivity, and thereby experience challenges navigating through the different digital technologies to teach and learn.
It is due to this background that we organized the #ItsAboutAllOfUs event where we built the capacity of the participants to utilize ICT to leverage 21st century learning practices and make ICT more relevant in their lives and education.
Our sessions focused on:
In relation to the topics, participants expressed their excitement learning this information, especially the available free platforms for them to access school curriculums and continue learning.
From observations during the workshop, young people regardless of background have the desire, energy, and eagerness to learn and utilize ICT to build their knowledge, skills and capacity, they simply need to be equipped with the proper skills to build their ICT literacy and capacity.
In conclusion, there’s need to explore the potential of ICT to advance learning opportunities among learners and educators during and after the lockdown of schools due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Both learners and educators need to be mentored to look at digital technologies as platforms to learn,cr eate, share, and exchange transformative information online.