According to the 2014 National ICT Policy, the term ‘information technology’ includes “computers, ancillary equipment, software and firmware (Hardware) and procedures, services and includes any equipment or Interconnected system or subsystem of equipment, which is used in the automatic acquisition, storage, manipulation, management, movement, control, display, switching, interchange, transmission or reception of data or information”. The 2021 Digital Education Standards and Guidelines for the Education and Sports Sector refers to information and communications technologies (ICTs) such as “computers and the Internet, as well as fixed-line telecommunications, mobile phones, other wireless communications devices, networks, broadband and various specialized digital devices”.
Assistive or adaptive technology is defined as “products, devices or equipment, whether acquired commercially, modified or customized, that are used to maintain, increase or improve the functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities. Assistive (or Adaptive) technology enables people with physical disabilities to have more accessibility when navigating web pages and access e-content materials; such technologies include navigation screen reader and speech recognition”.
The term ‘educational technologies’ is used in certain government documents, such as the 2021 Education Digital Agenda (Stakeholder Engagement Report), but no definition is provided.
Constitution and laws: Uganda has a strong legal framework to regulate the use of ICTs, including the 2011 Computer Misuse Act, 2011 Electronic Transactions Act, 2013 Electronic Transactions Regulations, and 2014 National Information Technology Authority – Uganda (e-Government) Regulations, but none of these documents explicitly refer to education. Data protection and privacy is regulated by the 2019 Data Protection and Privacy Act and 2020 Data Protection and Privacy Regulations, which similarly make no explicit mention of education. There is no national ICT or EdTech Act.
The 2021 Digital Education Standards and Guidelines for the Education and Sports Sector define the standards that educational institutions are bound to for the integration of ICTs in the education system.
Uganda’s 1995 Constitution (as amended in 2017) stipulates that “the State shall stimulate agricultural, industrial, technological and scientific development by adopting appropriate policies and the enactment of enabling legislation” (Article XI: ii), while the 2008 Education (Pre-Primary, Primary and Post-Primary) Act makes no reference to technology.
The 2013 Uganda Communications Act supports the collaboration with educational institutions in order to promote specialised education in the field of communications (Art. 5), with no other mention of education.
The 2019 Uganda Communications (Universal Service and Access Fund) Regulations provides for the establishment of a Universal Service and Access Fund in accordance with the 2013 Uganda Communications Act (section 5) to facilitate access to universal service for the development of rural communications and ICT curriculum at all education levels in Uganda and proposing appropriate mechanisms for the integration of ICT in education. The purpose of the Universal Access Fund is to “promote universal access to communication services in Uganda” (Article 5), with internet access included as part of the Universal Access Policy and defined as part of ICT in the 2021 Digital Education Standards and Guidelines for the Education and Sports Sector.
The 2019 Uganda Communications (Universal Service) Regulations aim to ensure the availability of communications services at a minimum standard to people in rural and sparsely populated areas, high cost service areas, and under served and unserved areas. There is no explicit mention of education services however.
Policies, plans and strategies: Uganda has a strong policy and strategy framework for the integration of technology in education. This includes the 2021 – 25 Education Digital Agenda Strategy, its Concept Note, Stakeholder Engagement Report, and the 2021 Digital Education Standards and Guidelines for the Education and Sports Sector. The goal of the Education Digital Agenda is to provide the necessary framework to coordinate the process of integration of ICT in education and improve Uganda’s education service delivery through “sustainable digital transformation”. Specific objectives include increasing coverage and access to ICT infrastructure and connectivity, developing an integrated direction for ICT to facilitate teaching, learning and management, increasing ICT human resource capacity, effectively using and encouraging the adoption of mature and emerging technologies, and reviewing the policy, legal and regulatory framework for ICT in Education. According to the agenda’s Stakeholder Engagment Report, the digital agenda will be anchored with a supportive policy and regulatory framework which will address stakeholder involvement, ethical considerations, ICT use at different education levels, local content development, ICT use regulations, ICT waste disposal, and accessibility policies (among other issues).
The Uganda Communication Commission in partnership with Ministry of Education and Sports has also been implementing a programme for ICT integration in education in Uganda since 2014, which focuses on developing ICT infrastructure (including connectivity), ICT skills, and training.
The 2014 National ICT Policy encourages the deployment of ICT across all priority socio-economic sectors, providing policy direction for the integration of ICT in education. Educational objectives include reviewing the curricula to allow for ICT integration in the teaching and learning process, improving the investment in educational ICT infrastructure, developing ICT skills, and promoting the implementation of open, distance and e-learning.
The 2017/18-2019/20 Education and Sports Sector Strategic Plan aims to optimize ICTs in the delivery of education services, highlighting the need for an ICT Policy for the education sector.
The 2020 National 4IR Strategy provides a framework for fourth industrial revolution (4IR) technologies to enhance the delivery of education services, which include enhancing teacher and student capabilities and aligning the education sector to meet 4IR technology needs.
The 2015/16 – 2019/20 ICT Sector Strategic and Investment Plan recognizes the key role of ICT in the education system, with specific priority areas defined in the Digital Uganda Vision, Uganda Vision 2040, National e-Government Master Plan, 2009 Rural Communication Development Fund Policy and 2020/21 National Development Plan III.
The 2022 Digital Government Strategy similarly aims to improve ICT, internet and digital government education across primary, secondary and tertiary levels. The strategy additionally supports the Integration of digital government courses in all computer science and IT programs in higher education, including teaching computer security and forensics as a subject or field of expertise.
Digital competency frameworks: There is no national ICT or Digital Skills Framework to define what competencies, skills, knowledge and proficiencies are required at different levels of the education sector or by teachers and students.
Changes occurred as a result of COVID-19: Following the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ministry of Education and Sports realized the need for a harmonized digital agenda for the education sector, known as the 2021 – 25 Education Digital Agenda Strategy, which provides the necessary framework for the integration of ICT in education. The agenda focuses on ICT governance, infrastructure, adoption and implementation of open and distance learning, use of new technologies in teaching and learning, and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Although the digital agenda responds to the challenges occasioned by the pandemic, the government also views it as a long lasting solution into the adoption of transformative pedagogies and technologies, with an expanded scope for use of ICT to increase access to service delivery. In addition to the digital agenda, the government also adopted the 2021 Digital Education Standards and Guidelines for the Education and Sports Sector, which provide standards and guidelines for educational institutions regarding the integration of ICT in education, many of which are requirements.
2.2.1. Technology infrastructure and digital capacity of schools
The 2021 Digital Education Standards and Guidelines for the Education and Sports Sector defines the standards and guidelines for procurement, budgeting, maintenance, and facilities, which educational institutions at all levels are required to adhere to for the maintenance and administration of ICT infrastructure systems and the support of e-Learning services.
Electricity: According to the 2021 Digital Education Standards and Guidelines for the Education and Sports Sector, educational institutions should plan for complementary facilities such as power that enable effective digital education. The 2021-25 Education Digital Agenda considers enabling complementary infrastructure as regular and regulated supply of electricity, appropriate electrical fixtures, adequate power backup and support, and alternate sources of energy and greening. The Stakeholder Engagement Report for the Education Digital Agenda highlights that digital learning “cannot take place without electricity”, and that electricity should be installed in all corners of the country, with deliberate efforts made to ensure that the rural electrification drive covers each and every village in the country. Where hydropower isn’t alternative power sources, e.g. solar power should be installed. The 2014 National ICT Policy similarly aims to secure affordable and universal access to ICTs, measuring the proportion of schools with electricity. To increase access to power, the 2015/16 – 2019/20 ICT Sector Strategic and Investment Plan supports the increasing of funding for the ICT sector.
Computers and devices: The 2021 Digital Education Standards and Guidelines for the Education and Sports Sector require that teachers and e-Learning support staff be equipped with computers or notebooks or any other equipment (including mobile) needed to deploy e-Learning, while all educational institutions should plan for complementary facilities such as computer labs that enable effective digital education. E-Learning facilities for students may include i) desktop and laptop computers, tablets or smart phones, ii) software, including assistive software, iii) projectors, iv) interactive whiteboards v) electronic communication tools, vi) virtual learning environments, and vii) online meeting tools. Sufficient funding must be made available for the procurement of any equipment and software to support e-Learning, with educational institutions required to ensure that evaluation processes are in place to justify the required annual budget on the ICT infrastructure and complementary systems (such as power, computer labs, studios) with regard to e-Learning requirement.
According to the Education Digital Agenda (Stakeholder Engagement Report), the government aims to provide one-to-one ICT access devices for all learners and teachers, which includes adequate ICT laboratories and infrastructure that permits the concept of ‘bring your own device’ (BYOD) encouraging personal ownership of devices. Special purpose PCs like One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) are encouraged (Concept Note) in addition to the definition, enforcement and certification of compliance to an optimum ICT infrastructure for different education levels and purposes. At the secondary school level, the main provider of ICT equipment and Connectivity has been Uganda Communications Commission through the Rural Communications Development Fund (RCDF) in partnership with the Ministry of Education. The cost of acquiring ICTs aims to be lowered for students, with tax exemptions on educational technologies and the provision of assistive technologies for people with disabilities.
The 2014 National ICT Policy similarly aims to distribute affordable computers to all educational institutions, and provide computers in public places (including schools) to help low-income segments of the society gain access to the internet for educational services through the Universal Service Fund. The policy specifically supports the improvement of investment in educational ICT equipment and software of primary, secondary and tertiary institutions, with indicators including the proportion of schools with a radio, television and telephone communication facility used for educational purposes, as well as learners-to-computer ratio in schools with computer-assisted instruction.
Internet connectivity: According to the 2021 Digital Education Standards and Guidelines for the Education and Sports Sector, educational institutions at all levels should provide internet bandwidth connectivity with a minimum of 512KB per student, with internet connectivity covering all the premises allocated for learning and teaching activities. The WiFi coverage should cover a minimum of 80% of the campus buildings, including hostels, while the WiFi facility lecture hall/lab/tutorial room should cater to the needs of BYOD for teaching and learning. The Education Digital Agenda additionally supports for schools to have access to broadband services such as the National Backbone Infrastructure (NBI) and/or other affordable, secure and efficient for purposes of connectivity and reliable Internet Services such as those provided by RENU, NITA-U, and other providers who support education institutions (Concept Note). According to the Stakeholder Engagment Report, a national Wi-Fi system should be established, with internet service providers establishing Internet network protocols such as 4G and 5G across the entire country.
The 2014 National ICT Policy proposes a scheme for distributing affordable internet access to all academic institutions, and improving broadband connectivity of primary, secondary and tertiary institutions. The 2015/16 – 2019/20 ICT Sector Strategic and Investment Plan aims for at least 80% of state schools to be connected to the NBI, with the 2018 National Broadband Policy further supporting basic access and fiber connection for primary and secondary schools. The 2009 Rural Communication Development Fund Policy also supports the provision of broadband connectivity in education institutions.
2.2.2. Technology and learning environments
The implementation of open, distance and blended learning is supported through numerous policy and strategy documents in Uganda. The 2021 Digital Education Standards and Guidelines for the Education and Sports Sector define specific standards and principles for effective e-Learning pedagogy and the implementation of blended learning, while the Education Digital Agenda includes open, distance and electronic learning as one its key focus areas. It specifically aims to establish a country wide policy for open and distance learning, invest in open and distance learning pedagogy, set up specialized units within institutions to oversee the implementation of open and distance learning (with defined standards), and adopt open education resources to support open and distance learning (Concept Note; Stakeholder Engagement Report). All institutions implementating e-Learning should have a dedicated e-Learning Unit with the sole responsibility of deploying and managing the deployment of the e-Learning as well as putting in place its governance/management structure that meets the requirement of the National Digital Agenda and proposed ICT in Education Policy. The promotion and implementation of open, distance and e-Learning modes of study has also been supported in numerous other policies and plans, such as the 2014 National ICT Policy, 2018 National Broadband Policy, 2015/16 – 2019/20 ICT Sector Strategic and Investment Plan, and 2017/18-2019/20 Education and Sports Sector Strategic Plan.
During the COVID-19 school closures, the Ministry of Education and Sports aimed to ensure the continuity of learning through home-based delivery methods such as self-study home packages, radio live recorded lessons, television lessons, and online uploads. The Ministry clarified that these were to be distributed and produced to all students in Uganda for free. Distance learning methods and guidelines were outlined in the Uganda COVID-19 Education Sector Response Guidelines and COVID-19 response in Uganda: keep children learning and safe while schools are closed. The education digital agenda was developed to further support distance learning approaches and integrate ICT in education.
The development of student digital skills is supported in several policy and strategy documents, including the 2021 – 25 Education Digital Agenda Strategy, 2022 Digital Government Strategy, 2020 National 4IR Strategy, 2018 National Broadband Policy, 2017/18-2019/20 Education and Sports Sector Strategic Plan, 2014 National ICT Policy, and 2009 Rural Communication Development Fund Policy.
While there is no digital competency framework for students, according to the 2021 – 25 Education Digital Agenda Strategy (Concept Note), students are expected to use ICT to open up new forms of learning and collaboration, acquire 21st century skills, experience joy and success in education and lifelong learning, be actively engaged in learning both in and out of school, achieve personal learning goals, and accept ownership of their learning. ICTs should be used critically and ethically.
The 2017/18-2019/20 Education and Sports Sector Strategic Plan additionally supports increasing student access to Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) programs, as well as enhancing university capacity to teach science and technology. The Education Digital Agenda further supports the adoption of inclusivity strategies that ensure more girls and women are enrolled in STEM subjects (with some institutions passing affirmative action policies and quotas). The 2015/16 – 2019/20 ICT Sector Strategic and Investment Plan aims to mainstream gender in all ICT-related programs (including Computer Science and Engineering), while the 2014 National ICT Policy promotes ICT an an alternative career path for women in the formal and non-formal education system, as well as enabling the full and equal participation of women in ICT training programs.
There is no digital competency framework for teachers, although the 2021 – 25 Education Digital Agenda Strategy (Concept Note) outlines a list of expected outcomes for teachers. These include facilitating increased interaction with students, taking a more facilitative role, enabling personal growth, accepting ownership of professional learning, and facilitating formative and summative assessments.
According to the Education Digital Agenda (Stakeholder Engagement Report), all teachers must be proficient in the use of ICTs, which includes basic ICT skills, skills for teaching with ICTs (ICT pedagogical skills), skills for developing pedagogical content and skills for supporting students. Training must be continuous and embedded as one of the key trainings in the teacher continuous professional development programme. The stategy additionally aims to review teacher training curricula to include ICT pedagogy. Similar goals are set in the 2014 National ICT Policy, which supports imparting teachers with the necessary ICT skills to enable them use ICTs in the teaching and learning process. The 2015/16 – 2019/20 ICT Sector Strategic and Investment Plan further supports the development and implementation of targeted capacity building for teachers to incorporate ICT in pedagogy.
The 2021 Digital Education Standards and Guidelines for the Education and Sports Sector provides standards and guidelines for teacher training and professional development on digital skills (Section 5), with e-Learning instructors and trainers requiring quality professional development to ensure the successful delivery of e-Learning. Educational institutions are required to strategically plan for e-Learning training for both staff and students and provide training for e-Learning instructors. Training must be provided at the minimum of two stages: i) Basic Training for the e-Learning instructor Training in online pedagogy and the basic use of a Learning Management System and ii) Intermediate Training for the e-Learning instructor Training in instructional design, resource and content development, sharing and collaboration, research and new online technologies.
According to the 2023 National Cybersecurity Strategy, cybersecurity skills shall be integrated into the core competencies in public sector institutions.
The 2021 Digital Education Standards and Guidelines for the Education and Sports Sector do not have cybersecurity standards, but include provisions on cheating/plagiarism, academic honesty, and intellectual property rights and copyright issues.
2.4.1. Data privacy
The Education Digital Agenda Strategy aims to address all issues in data and system safety, security, and integrity, including issues of data recovery. The government has developed several data protection laws, such as the 2019 Data Protection and Privacy Act and 2020 Data Protection and Privacy Regulations, although neither of these explicitly refers to education. They both include provisions in protecting personal data relating to children (Art.8) and protection of privacy (Art.10). The 2014 National Information Technology Authority – Uganda (e-Government) Regulations protects the use of personal information (Art. 14), although there is similarly no mention of education.
2.4.2. Online abuse and cyberbullying
The 2014 National ICT Policy supports the development of legislation that addresses cyber crime, although no specific legislation or strategy has been adopted that explicitly protects learners from online abuse and cyberbullying in the education context. The Education Digital Agenda Strategy aims to review the policy on the ethical use of the internet and online safety for young people in schools, while the 2017/18-2019/20 Education and Sports Sector Strategic Plan supports collaboration with other government agencies to fight child abuse in schools. The 2023 National Cybersecurity Strategy aims to integrate cybersecurity through all stages of education through the development of cybersecurity educational programs.
The 2011 Electronic Transactions Act, 2013 Electronic Transactions Regulations, and 2011 Computer Misuse Act do not refer to education. Similarly, there is no mention of education in the 2013 Social Media Guide and 2014 National Information Security Policy.
The Ministry of Education and Sports (MoES) is responsible for overseeing the integration of ICT in education at all levels, which includes having overall oversight responsibility for the achievement of the Education Digital Agenda. The MoES is also responsible for overseeing training and human resource development in the country, playing a leading role in the development if digital skills for teachers and learners. There is no ICT or EdTech department under the MoES, although the National Curriculum Development Centre (NCDC) (under the MoES) has an ICT & Multimedia Services Department which oversees and coordinates all ICT and Multi-Media services at the Centre and provides guidance on the integration of ICT in the curriculum materials of the Centre. The MDAs and local governments are responsible for the production of regular reports on the implementation of the Digital Agenda.
The Ministry of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) and National Guidance is responsible for the overall coordination, support and advocacy on all matters of policy, laws, regulations and strategy for the ICT sector. This includes overseeing the implementation of the national ICT policy, Digital Uganda Vision, and cybersecurity laws.
The Uganda Communications Commision (UCC) (under the Ministry of ICT and National Guidance) regulates the communications sector (including Telecommunications, Broadcasting, radio communication, postal communications, data communication and infrastructure). The Rural Communications Development Fund and universal access services are under the UCC. To avoid ICT infrastructure development being driven by the private sector, the government established the Rural Communications Development Fund (RCDF) managed by UCC whose broad objective is to promote universal access to communications services through specific intervention in those communities that are not ordinarily covered by the operators and other service providers.
Non-state actors such as the private sector, civil society and development partners participate in funding and in independent assessments of the country’s performance towards the realization of the Education Digital Agenda. The 2021 Digital Education Standards and Guidelines for the Education and Sports Sector provides guidelines for outsourcing the content development process to commercial content developers and how to avoid potential risks.
The 2021 Digital Education Standards and Guidelines for the Education and Sports Sector outline the role of educational institutions with regard to e-Learning Units and infrastructure. While existing pre-primary, primary and secondary school policies bar the use of technologies such as mobile phones in school premises, the stakeholders engaged in the Digital Agenda support the revision of these policies to cater for regulated use of these educational technologies. According to the Stakeholder Engagment Report, the digital agenda aims to revise school policies that bar employment of transformative pedagogies and technologies to enable for free or regulated use. The MoES is developing a framework to have a basis for developing supporting regulation of the use of mobile phones among other ICTs in schools.