Laptops for online learning
Providing technology for online learning so students in Uganda can continue studying
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a serious impact on education worldwide. In Uganda, all educational institutions were closed in March 2020 to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Well after primary and secondary schools had reopened their doors, post-secondary institutions remained solely online, leaving students reliant on consistent Internet access to continue their studies.
However, families living in poverty can’t afford to purchase computers or tablets. Many don’t have access to the Internet at home or in their communities. Most colleges and universities have since shifted towards a hybrid model that alternates in-person learning with online classes. As these institutions become increasingly reliant on technology, it has become essential for students to be able to access personal devices like laptops and Internet service.
Children living in poverty experience the most severe consequences of education loss. The longer children are out of school, the less likely they are to return. Compassion’s church partners across Uganda have seen first-hand the impact of school closures on the children and youth they are serving, and wanted to step in. Compassion’s Uganda National Office and frontline church partners carried out a survey identifying 178 students who needed assistance accessing the Internet and the technology they needed to continue attending classes, researching and submitting assignments online. Without intervention, our partners were concerned that these students were at risk of dropping out and forfeiting their education altogether. With some form of online learning likely to be part of life moving forward, our partners also requested funding to connect to the Internet at their facilities so that students can access reliable Internet service at any time.
With your help, we were able to provide 178 college and university students in Uganda with laptops and tablets, as well as installing 86 laptops and Internet service across 10 Compassion centres. This has ensured that students could continue their studies online during pandemic shutdowns and allowed them to accommodate hybrid learning models as institutions began to reopen. In all, 141 students each received a laptop, while 37 students received tablets. Each student also attended training sessions at their Compassion centres to learn how to use and take care of the devices and signed a form committing to using them properly.
Due to high demand, churches found it challenging to procure the devices at a reasonable cost. After consulting with the information technology team from Compassion Uganda’s National Office, along with partnership facilitators, business support staff, managers and the Complementary Interventions team, churches decided to purchase the computers and tablets in bulk as a group, rather than approaching suppliers individually. This gave churches more bargaining power with their suppliers and enabled them to access wholesale prices by ordering at a higher quantity. The devices were delivered to the National Office so the devices could be stored securely. Compassion staff were able to collect them and bring them back to their communities using office cars for distribution.
Over the last months, students have been able to use their personal devices and the new computer labs to attend online lectures and exams, submit assignments, design and present their work, carry out research and manage their student accounts online.
Computer labs: We installed Internet service and laptops at 10 frontline church partners across Uganda, enabling beneficiaries of all ages to access online education and services at any time. It is now a government requirement for the students from primary level up to university to learn how to use computers.
Laptops and tablets: We distributed 139 laptops and 39 tablets to students in need. Students have been able to use the devices to attend online classes, submit assignments, complete research and manage their online student portals with their institutions.
Continuing studies: Caregivers and students are so happy and grateful that they now have the means to continue their college and university studies. Many would have not managed to access a laptop to continue their education without assistance from this intervention.
Your Gift Provides...
Your support provided post-secondary students from across Uganda with the means to continue online learning:
• Laptops for 141 post-secondary students
• Tablets for 37 post-secondary students
• 86 laptops and Internet service for 10 Compassion centres
ReportA message from those your gift helped
I used to borrow/share with a friend who had a laptop in order to attend online lessons and complete assignments and coursework. This led to me missing lectures when my friend was using her laptop for her lectures. I would also be under much pressure to complete work, especially when my friend would be in need of the laptop. Sometimes, my work would accidentally get lost.
With a personal laptop, I do my work without any pressure. In addition, I am able to attend all online lectures without pressure from anyone. My coursework and assignments can also be saved and kept safely on the laptop with no fear of being lost or deleted. My ICT skills have greatly improved as a result of having a personal laptop. I will utilize the laptop for my final project as I complete my studies next year. I will also use it to complete my final school practice (Internship) report at the end of this year.
I have learned that such interventions can lead to a big change, which I have experienced in my studies. I had never expected to have access to such a laptop because my family could not afford it.
I want to convey my sincere gratitude you for funding this intervention. I’d like you to know that my academic life has been transformed completely. This intervention greatly contributed to the achieving of my education goals even as I work to complete the course that I am studying at university.
ReportThank you for your generosity
Children and youth living in poverty already face significant barriers to getting an education. During the pandemic, they have been especially vulnerable to the negative impacts of school closures, including learning loss and social isolation. Without intervention, many have been at risk of dropping out entirely. But thanks to you, 178 Compassion-assisted students studying at college or university in Uganda were able to access the technology they needed to stay in school during pandemic-related closures—and continue their journey towards a life free from poverty.
Our church partners are so grateful for your support. Having access to Internet service and digital technology is becoming increasingly essential for them to run their programming effectively and offer students the educational support they need. Staff have taken note of the great improvement in the students’ computer skills as a result of regular use of the devices for schoolwork. They also report that students have improved their participation in centre programming and have developed a sense of responsibility because they know they must return the laptops to the centres for servicing after each semester. This intervention has also opened opportunities for staff to share the gospel with students and their families and build deeper trust with them.
Even as pandemic restrictions begin to ease in many countries, there’s little doubt that COVID-19 has ushered in permanent changes to the way we live, work and communicate. It has changed the way students access education, especially those studying at university or college who will continue relying on digital devices and online systems like Zoom to continue their education. In fact, university students are now required to have laptops to complete their studies. One of the secondary benefits is that online studies has promoted peer learning among the participants, even with students from across the country.
By supplying our church partners with this valuable technology, your support will enable many more students to access the technology they will need to excel in school and get good jobs. The bright young men and women you supported through this initiative are studying education, agriculture, engineering, psychology, medicine, business management and social work, among others. As they grow in knowledge and skill, they will become powerful agents of change who can make a lasting impact. When you support them, you are supporting the future of entire communities. Thank you for helping us launch this incredibly important initiative!
ReportA message from a centre director
This intervention came at a time when participants in higher institutions of learning were required to attend online lectures due to COVID-19 restrictions. The acquisition of the laptops made access to online lessons possible for the participants. With the blended learning approach in some universities today (both physical and online learning), these devices continue to be of great use to the participants. In addition, continual utilization with these laptops has led to a great improvement of their Information Communication and Technology (ICT) skills.
Sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ has been made easier. The relationship between church staff, overseers and the participants has gotten better.
Three participants who received laptops completed their programs. The laptops they were using have now been given to three other participants who are in university. Many other participants have gained interest in ICT skills at the centre as a result of testimonies they have heard from their friends at university level.
We would like to convey our sincere gratitude for this very timely intervention that enabled students to acquire laptops to support online learning. It also led to academic improvement for these participants and enhancement of their ICT skills.