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Teaching with computers

Opinion: In Uganda access to the internet boosts students' opportunities.

Our work directly complements these “top-down” governmental developments and commitment to technology. At Computers for Africa, we work at the ground level, enabling local people to take advantage of these new policies and infrastructure — because, unfortunately, there is still a dire need for quality, affordable computers. Despite the zero tax on importation of computers, new computers and even most refurbished computers remain well above what the rural population can afford on an average income of less than $2 per day.

So today, what we’re seeing is the establishment of enabling infrastructure and policies, which can only be taken advantage of by the majority of Uganda's people through a bottom-up solution. Without it, the majority of the rural population will remain locked out of information technology and will be destined to subsistence agricultural jobs where shrinking parcels of land become depleted and commodity prices continue to drop, where poverty and lack of access to education abound.

Computers for Africa has been providing quality, affordable refurbished computer labs to rural schools in Uganda for 10 years. We strongly believe in building in sustainability by qualifying beneficiaries and passing on skills to maintain and repair their hardware, ensuring that our computers don’t become e-trash a year after they’re sent over.

We also focus on one region at a time, helping 25 schools each year collaborate as they progress through our program. Neighbors come to see each other as leaders and supportive partners in technology. They keep in touch to advance academic goals as our organization brings computers and the internet into their isolated schools — schools such as those in the former warzone of northern Uganda, where thousands of students are former child soldiers. In this region, to date,  50 percent of high schools have computer labs through our program.

So, why do we send computers to Africa?

We send computers to schools in Uganda because they are the final enabling link for rural African schools to tap into local and national structures that the Kampala government has put in place. The computers enable Ugandan students to connect to an infrastructure to access a whole world of resources.