GAEL Katongole, 47, a senior human resource manager, is what most Ugandans would consider successful. He has a job where he earns a â€˜seven-figure-salaryâ€™, has a string of businesses in town and is always on trips abroad. But he is not content.
As a top executive, Katongole has to rely on his secretary to do most of his assignments. He is very poor in Information Communication Technology (ICT).
â€œThese things (ICT) were not there during our school days. I would like to go back and study but I am very busy,â€ he says.
â€œLook at my desk, which lecturer will entertain an absentee student? I may never pass since I cannot keep up with the class pace because of my busy schedule.â€
There are many people facing Katongoleâ€™s dilemma. With the emerging information age, almost every job has or will have a significant Information Technology (IT) component. To compete favourably in the job market, one has to acquire the necessary skills.
The Government has introduced a computer-based training programme called Easylearning (E-learning), where learners use a card similar to a pre-paid phone card to study.
The E-learning education card, which costs sh12,000 is encrypted with a Personal Identification Number (PIN) and simple instructions, allows a student to make their own choice from the over 400 courses in a library database.
Godfrey Sseruwagi, the national project manager, says each course comes with a complete curriculum and support services.
â€œUsing the PIN code, the student registers and accesses the courses through Uganda easylearning portal at http://campus.easylearning.org/uganda/. One PIN code unlocks one course for a three-month period of unlimited access,â€ Seruwagi says.
He says there is an online exam at the end of the course and one must score a minimum of 75% in order to be awarded a certificate.
â€œIt is a continuous self-test and directed programme, with a minimum of 12 modules in each curriculum. Each student is doing his or her own course and the exams depend on how fast one studies. The examinations are managed by the Global Consortium while the Ministry of Education and Sports is the overseer,â€ he says.
The courses have been tried, tested and proven to provide quality education by the Global Professional training industry. The Government has invested $175,000 (sh315m) to purchase the E-learning cards.
â€œThey are few but another batch will be procured as we popularise the programme,â€ Seruwagi says.
Education minister Geraldine Namirembe Bitamazire says President Yoweri Museveni conceived the programme in 2004 and her ministry adopted it and is providing the training through educational institutions and Internet cafes.
In a speech read by the Minister of State for primary education, Peter Lokeris, at the launch of the E-learning programme at the Management Training and Advisory Centre in Nakawa recently, Bitamazire said that the programme aims at providing alternative low cost education.
â€œConsider the wealth of information, which will be available to students at a click of a button on the computer at a relatively low cost,â€ Bitamazire said.
She added that care must be taken to ensure that the computer graduates produced in the country are able to perform in the ICT-driven global economy.
Get IT lessons with sh12,000 card