Policies, Partnerships, and Pragmatism: Lessons from an ICT-in-Education Project in Rural Uganda

For at least the past decade, political leaders and policy makers have stressed how important it is for Africa to harness technology, leapfrog development, and take part in the global knowledge economy. In numerous initiatives aimed at realizing these goals, education is a primary target, viewed as a mechanism through which information and communication technologies (ICT) can empower societies to develop technologically literate workforces. Unfortunately, there is a considerable gap between policy rhetoric and effective project implementation. Even as ICT-in-education projects increase rapidly in number and scope across the continent, many still lack necessary pre-project assessments, enumerated goals for outcomes, or understanding of what technology can and cannot do. This article’s focus on policies, partnerships, and pragmatism is informed by a case study of a multi-partnered ICT-in-education project in rural Uganda that set pragmatic technology-use goals, a project for which governmental policy provided an important initial incentive, and which was subsequently revised to address actual student needs for acquiring technology skills. The case offers important lessons to inform both similar projects and government- led policy initiatives in the future.

Laura Hosman
© Information Technologies and International Development, 2010