AT least 100 schools that would otherwise not afford it have been able to buy computers at lower prices from an NGO that extends Information Technology to rural areas.
The NGO, Uconnect imports used computers from Europe and USA, revamps them and supplies them to schools and organisations. The organisation also helps them to network their computer labs and to get Internet connections.
In the first year of the project, the organisation distributed hundreds of computers to 60 mostly rural-based schools. In the last 20 months Uconnect has supplied over 100 schools, both primary and secondary with computers.
Schools from as far as Mbale, Lira, and Tororo have benefited from the project.
According to Daniel Stern, the Director of Uconnect Schools Project, the organisation was initially meant to be a computer literacy project.
It has eventually evolved into a key provider of information and technology transfers to Uganda. After meeting the Education Ministry officials about Internet technologies Stern started the Uganda Connectivity Project in 1995, otherwise known as Uganda Connect, or Uconnect.
Sarah Obot, deputy headmistress of Kisoko High School, Tororo says members of the community use their lab at a small fee to do their personal work and also to learn how to use the computers. Mbale SS headmistress, says the school library was connected to the Internet and students could access information. The organisation also offered to pay one yearâ€™s subscription for the schoolâ€™s Internet connection.
What Uconnect does is to bring many computers from abroad, update them and install them with contemporary software from their workshop then supply them to schools at subsidised rates.
Uconnect also trains teams of up to five members from each school or organisation they have supplied computers on how to set up their own local area networks for $100 per team. The trainees are therefore, able to connect the school computer labs back in their schools or organisations on their own.
â€œOnce the schoolsâ€™ computer labs are connected to the Internet and have their server we encourage them to open their computer labs to the parents and community after school hours on a fee-paying basis. The school computer labs themselves must also be sustainable,â€ says the 56-year-old American director. Uconnect is a non-profit organisation.
â€œWe are not trying to make money out of this, but itâ€™s got to be maintained. This project is completely supported by the payment from the schools and organisations,â€ he says.
Uconnect project works to make the spread of Internet to remote areas sustainable, scalable and reproducible.
Uconnect takes ICT to schools