E-learning: A perfect drive and how Uganda crushed its own

By Nickson Maberi.

On 6th June, the President of the Republic of Uganda took to the stage to drum a familiar tune in a fresh style. In his guidelines, not any different from those issued in March 2020 when the pandemic first struck, was the immediate closure of institutions of learning for forty-two days. It remains uncertain whether this shall be the final dose or more days are yet to be added.

Also read: The Ministry of Education to encourage e-learning with brand new efforts

A recap.

When schools first shut down in March 2020, this left many devastated. Some institutions came up with the initiative of online classes so the dreams of learners are not completely shuttered. The Ministry of Education took its hands off the wheel allowing institutions with the capacity to carry on business.

In a rush attempt, other institutions slowly joined the wagon not to lag behind. And when schools were finally allowed to operate in what was term as a ‘staggered manner’, all institutions opened doors for students to continue studying.

What went wrong?

It should be noted that as others continued to learn online, some institutions didn’t consider this as an option due to a lack of capacity to facilitate the process which left them lagging behind. By the time institutions of learning opened in a ‘new normal’, some were ahead of others. For instance, Makerere University, a government institution, was ahead of other government universities by one semester.

Quite a number of students didn’t have smartphones or laptops which are a requisite for E-learning. Others cried about how hectic it was to foot data costs.

Having been hit by the second wave of the coronavirus, institutions of learning have once again been closed. Albeit, some institutions have continued to teach students online. Among these are Kampala International University, Uganda Christian University, International University of East Africa et cetera.

Read also: Fascinating e-learning program launched in Busoga through the Ministry of Education

Where does this leave the rest of the institutions that lack the capacity to embrace electronic learning? Assuming the second lockdown lasts for nearly a year just as the first, this is how the statistics shall be for a student doing Cambridge online and one following the traditional physical learning system:


Year of studyA( Ugandan system)B (Cambridge)
2020year oneyear one
2021year oneyear two
2022year oneyear three

The above statistics don’t vary any much with those of learning at Universities that do online classes and those that don’t.

Is Uganda ready for E-learning?

“As a country, I do not think we are ready for this kind of change because we have not been through the right process of development. As a third world country, I think that e-learning should have been for when we as a country are in a second world section of development. Rushing for online learning while still, a third world country leaves a lot of loopholes, a lot of people lagging behind and therefore not capturing the whole population especially those that cannot afford the devices that come with this change.” says Kenye Esther a law student at Uganda Christian University.

It is evident that those who have embraced e-learning are a mile ahead of those who have failed to. Despite our generation being tech-savvy, we have still failed as a country to put this cut edge technology into use. Uganda isn’t flexible and the covid-19 pandemic has made it visibly clear that ours is but an unreliable education system.

As a country, we ought to front accessibility to internet services. The internet should be made cheaper and accessible for all.

It should be noted that while presenting the national budget last week, the controversial over the top tax (OTT)  was suspended and replaced with indirect data taxes that shall see a probable increase in the prices of data bundles. Data costs remain one of the biggest hindrances to E-learning.

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