INSPIRING SCIENCE EDUCATION FOR GIRLS USING ICT
In Uganda and in many other countries, girls’ participation (number of girls in science subjects, contribution to class discussions and performance) is much lower than that of boys. Desktop research indicates that among the factors which contribute to this low participation and performance of girls are:
- Discouraging remarks by teachers, parents, relatives and peers.
- Lack of role models especially in rural areas.
- Poor teaching methods which are teacher-centered, where science is taught theoretically and science concepts are not related to the daily life experiences of the girls.
- Abstract concepts which can’t easily be visualized.
- Intimidation form boys who dominate the science classes.
SchoolNet Uganda put together a project called Inspiring Science Education for Girls Using Information Communication Technology (ICT). The project has three broad objectives:
- Encourage more girls into sciences.
- Improve girls’ self-esteem and confidence.
- Improve performance of girls in sciences.
The project activities include:
- Provision of affordable computers to schools and individual teachers.
- Advocacy for project support and eventual mainstreaming.
- Sensitization of School Head teachers for project buy-in and support.
- In-service training of teachers to use learner-centered pedagogies and ICT to enhance their teaching.
- Creating an online repository of digital learning objects and resources.
- Encouraging girl-child participation in science fairs.
- Organizing Science with ICT holiday camps for girls.
- Creating a social network of science teachers.
The following organizations agreed to participate in the 3-year pilot phase with the roles and responsibilities indicated.
- Digital Links (UK): Sourcing refurbished computers, fund raising, training of local technicians and technical support for setting up a state-of-art computer refurbishment centre in Uganda.
- Barclays Bank (Uganda): Revolving fund of 3 years to support the importation of computers.
- Ministry of Education and Sports (Uganda ): Policy guidance, selection of 15 pilot Girls schools, co-sponsoring teacher training, funding construction of the computer refurbishment centre and project home, monitoring and evaluation.
- SchoolNet Uganda : Revolving fund of to support importation of computers, checking and selling computer to schools and individual teachers, project implementation and publicity and co-sponsoring teacher and student training.
- Project schools: Purchase of computers, releasing teachers for training and co-sponsoring school-based teacher training.
The following schools are currently participating in the Inspiring Science Education for Girls using ICT project: Gayaza High School (Wakiso), Bweranyangi Girls (Busenyi), and Kyeizooba Girls (Busenyi), Dabani Girls (Busia), Bukomero SS (Kiboga), Muntuyera High School (Ntungamo), Muni Girls (Arua), St. Mary’s Ediofe Girls (Arua), Aggrey Memorial (Wakiso), Aiden College (Wakiso), Ngora High School(Kumi), Ngora Girls (Kumi), Bukooli College (Bugiri) Tororo Girls (Tororo) and Nalinya Lwantale Girls (Luwero).
The Inspiring Science Education for Girls Using ICT project was launched June 2006. Below are some of its achievements.
- 15 Girls schools across the country are actively participating in the project reaching 15,000 girls. 10 other schools have requested to join the project.
- 100 science teachers have been trained in learner-centered pedagogies and integration of ICT in science teaching.
- 1200 professionally refurbished computers have been sold to schools and individual teachers at affordable prices.
- Five school-based sensitization teachers’ workshops and one centralized sensitization workshop for school principals have been conducted.
- Three school science exhibitions have been supported with a prize of a computer to the 1st and 2nd best girl exhibitors.
- Two Science with ICT holiday camps for girls have been conducted. At the camps, girls use Internet for research, have hands-on using ICT for sciences , are addressed by role models and have their self-esteem and confidence enhanced to become change agents.
- The project was presented at the eLearning Africa conference held May 2006 in Nairobi, Kenya.
- An online repository of learning resources called the Uganda Digital Education Resource Bank (http://www.uderb.org ) has been set up. It receives an average of 50 unique visitors daily.