WORLD LINKS-MICROSOFT UNLIMITED POTENTIAL (UP) –SCHOOLNET UGANDA REVISED SCHOOL BASED TELECENTER PROJECT
World Links in partnership with the World Bank Institute and Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation supported the establishment of the Rural School VSAT School-Based Telecenters (SBTs) which were implemented in 15 rural schools in Uganda by SchoolNet Uganda (2002 -2003).
A school-based telecenter (SBT) is a combination of a computer lab and an Internet café. Whereas a computer lab’s purpose is pedagogy and an Internet café’s purpose is profit for sustainability, an SBT seeks to fulfil both pedagogy and sustainability. At no point, however will the quest for profits ever overpower the desire to diffuse technological knowledge. The profit–seeking nature of an SBT exists solely to further its educational mission.
In 2003, an in-depth business evaluation was conducted to critically assess strengths and weakness in the sustainability model of the SBTs. After analysis of the study, the lessons learned were applied to the World Links Community-based technology and learning centres (CTLCs) in other countries.
In 2004, Microsoft Community Affairs, as part of their global Unlimited Potential Program (UP) which focuses on improving lifelong learning for disadvantaged young people and adults provided a grant to World Links to introduce a revised School Based Telecenter (SBT) model in 15 schools in Uganda.
The project aimed at applying the lessons learnt by World Links in other countries to enhance the existing Uganda SBTs through new business models while also delivering the Microsoft Unlimited Potential (UP) curriculum to women and out of school youth in order to increase ICT skills and provide employment opportunities for youth.
The revised School-based Telecenter Project (SBT) involved 8 news schools and 7 old schools which had participated in Uganda Rural Schools VSAT (SBT) project.
The following schools participated in the World Links- Microsoft UP- SchoolNet Uganda SBT project: Duhaga SS, Iganga SS, PMM Girls, Moroto High School, NTC Muni, St. Henry’s Kitovu, St. Peters’ Nkokonjeru, Lubiri SS, Mengo SS, Maranatha High School, Jinja SS, Bishops Senior Mukono, Wanyange Girls School, Namilyango College and St. Peter’s Nsambya.
Each telecenter formed a Telecenter Management Committee chaired by the school head teacher. Each committee included the Telecenter Manager, the MS-UP Master trainer and representatives from the teachers, students, parents and the community.
Aims of the project and target groups.
The project had the following aims:
- To reach underserved communities in Uganda through the Microsoft Unlimited Program (UP) specifically focussing on promoting gender equity and opportunities for women as well as providing job skills, training for youth.
- To utilize ICT as a tool to create an environment that promotes gender equity and empowers women to receive social and economic services through IT training.
- To develop job skills and training in school-based and out of school youth by providing opportunities for the youth to serve as technical support team members and Master trainers in the Microsoft UP curriculum.
Objectives of the project
- To introduce ICT-enabled tools and resources to underserved communities in Uganda through the establishment of community learning technology centres (CLTCs) in 15 schools of which 8 were already existing SBTs.
- To provide training in the Microsoft UP curriculum to underserved communities, directed primary at women in Uganda.
- To empower youth (both in school and out of school) in the communities by training them to be Microsoft UP Master Trainers and technical support team members, thereby developing IT skills and job skills.
- To develop local entrepreneurial skills in youth through the development and management of self-sustainability plans for the SBTs and incubation of micro-enterprises at the SBTs.
- To develop requisite IT skills in women to enable them to have easy access to IT-based healthcare services and other social services and promote gender equity within communities in Uganda.
- To support the 15 SBTs in rural Uganda through the implementation of new customized business models.
Roles of SchoolNet Uganda
The roles of SchoolNet Uganda included:
(i) Site selection –Providing information on each school to help determine which schools had the necessary conditions for the implementation of the project.
- Creating awareness of the project within the network of SchoolNet Uganda schools (i.e. informing head teachers and providing detailed information about the project).
- Collecting data from each potential school regarding infrastructure of the computer lab and doing a market research on the surrounding community.
- Recommending a list of 20 potential schools to World Links for participation in the project.
(ii) Financial management and administrative support – Overseeing the financial management of the funds to implement the project.
(iii) Technical Training- Developing and conducting a 5 day technical training program for the technical support team identified at each centre. The training was to cover technical maintenance, trouble shooting and networking.
Two 5-day technical training session were conducted, one for teachers and one for students.
(iv) Microsoft –UP Master Trainer’s workshop – Organizing and conducting a 5-day workshop to orient the Master trainers selected from each of the SBTs to the Microsoft UP curriculum and to customize the modules to fit the potential clients.
A 5-day Microsoft –UP Master trainer’s workshop was conducted 6th-10th Dec 2004.
(v) Coordinate a Telecenter Managers’ Training workshop which was conducted by an international trainer.
User Services at the School-Based Telecenters
The user services at the SBTs included Microsoft-UP curriculum training, secretarial services, Internet services, Photocopying and hosting of Ministry of Education and Sports’ Basic ICT training workshops for in-services teachers.
During the 10 months of the project, the SBTs reported a total of 1,796 women and out of school youth trained in the Microsoft-UP curriculum.
The project was coordinated by:
SchoolNet Uganda Technical Director.