Our society is slowly and steadily being sucked into a global village by the internet.
Commonly defined as a global computer network, the internet provides a variety of information and communication facilities, consisting of interconnected networks, using standardized communication protocols.
We are currently living in a digital world that would never have been envisaged 50 years ago. Today, through a slim gadget in your pocket you have a radio, a television, a school, an office, a doctor, access to vast knowledge, and a means of communication. The internet seems to be gradually setting itself as one of the elementary needs, much like water, oxygen, or electricity hence today’s generation treats the internet as part of life.
The wake of the COVID – 19 pandemic has further stamped the importance of the internet not only in our lives but in our education system. Terms like homeschooling and E-Learning were alien to many Ugandan’s ears up until the total lockdown which saw the closure of educational institutions. Close to two years down the road, students, even pupils can delightfully take you through how Zoom classes or Google classroom works.
With the internet, now teachers can virtually connect with their students. This not only helps in keeping the doors of learning open but also grooms a tech-literate generation.
Unfortunately, the biggest part of our learners in rural areas still lag. In most rural parts of Uganda, children continue to treat the closure of schools as simply a long holiday. With no access to electricity, the dream of using the internet for education is oblivious to them. The 2019 report on The-State-of-ICT-in-Uganda revealed that there is a huge urban-rural gap in Internet use of 70 percent, where only nine percent of Ugandans living in rural areas have access to the Internet and about a third (30%) of urban area dwellers use it.
As we celebrate World Internet Day, let us embrace the importance of integrating the internet with education, but also live up to the fact that some Ugandans are yet to get direct experience with the internet. Although COVID 19 has affected the learning curve, it has brought to light many possibilities and opened our eyes to the pending inequalities in our society. It is therefore time for us to wake up make it everyone’s concern to create an even ground for internet access in the country.
The Online learning programs have to be immersive and interactive to compensate for when the students are not physically present at school as the case is now.
In addition, the government needs to work with the respective stakeholders to lower the prices of data. This will allow for internet access even for students from humble backgrounds.
Availing gadgets that allow for internet access both at home and at school and putting in place infrastructure to support the systems goes without mention.
Considering its impressive momentum, it is only a matter of time before its worldwide educational significance is realized. Until then, the issue of inadequate access to one of the most powerful systems that currently drives society is a challenge with a solution.
The writer, Grace Judith Amoit, is the Publicity Assistant at River Flow International-Science Teachers Initiative