In a drive to nurture and support innovation around the country, the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) has for the last 6 years recognized and appreciated young innovators and local businesses for their contribution to service excellence and ICT development through their annual ACIA AWARDS. A great number of these innovations have contributed to development of new and efficient technologies, generation and dissemination of educational content, as well as identifying new and creative talent that has the capacity to shape the ICT ecosystem.

In the previous two (2) years of operation, the ACIA awards program engaged students at both Secondary and Primary level of education. The goal was to interest and expose the youth at a tender age of their lives to the innovation activities.  An evaluation report of the ACIA AWARDS program conducted in 2016 showed that the program needed improvement in the type and quality of applications they have been receiving, particularly at secondary and primary school levels. In light of this and based on the success of RAN’s programs like the Technovation Challenge encompassingRAN4Gals among others, UCC incited a partnership with the Makerere School of Public Health- ResilientAfrica Network (RAN) to train teachers from schools in 5 regions of Uganda between February 20th and March 3rd ,2017.

The teachers in each of the five regions gathered at one central location for a day’s training that included an introduction to the principles of Human Centered Design (HCD), a brief overview of the ACIA Awards and overview of the judging process. These sessions were delivered by a team that comprised of 2 RAN team members, 8 UCC members including their ground staff in the various regions and one external judge from the 2016 ACIA Awards. Among the regions visited were:  the Western region where training took place at Kabalega Secondary School; South Western region at Mbarara High School; Eastern region at Mbale Secondary School; the Northern region at Gulu Secondary School and West Nile region at Arua Public Primary School. 50 schools (With two teachers invited in each school- 1 ICT and 1 Projects teacher and/or Head Teacher) were invited to attend the training in each of the 5 regions but attendance varied across the different regions. Approximately 300 teachers were trained in total among whom were Art, Science, Social Studies, Mathematics, English and ICT teachers, as well as some of the administrative staff (Head and Deputy Head Teachers) from some of the schools. For comprehensiveness and inclusivity, RAN will further support the UCC team to conduct a 2-day Hackathon leading up to the ACIA Awards in addition to participating in all the Pre ACIA Awards event activities including ‘Pitch Sessions’.

During the HCD training led by the RAN team, the teachers were taught (through hands-on activities and exercises) how to guide the students on identifying and researching about challenges in their communities, ideate solutions for these challenges and develop prototypes that give the users a clear picture of the solution being developed and how it actually works. A total of 25 potentially transformative innovative solutions were prototyped in all the regions and these aimed to addressing the challenge of a ‘lack of appreciation for ICT in schools in Uganda”. Some of the solutions proposed included;

  • A plan to schedule more ICT classes during ‘free periods’ (lunch, break times) and adopt using IT tools in other lessons too.
  • A proposal to award teachers and schools that participate in the ACIA Challenge
  • A proposal that involved dividing the students into two groups during the ‘ICT’ lesson so that one half of the class goes through a practical session while the other does theoretical work. This would enable schools to make the most of the limited ICT resources available.

‘The trainings were an all-round success’ shared Natasha Kassami, RAN Engagement Officer who also joined in this training. The RAN team will further support the UCC team in organizing and facilitating a 2-day Hackathon that will lead up to the ACIA Awards scheduled Friday May 26th, 2017. The Hackathon will be guided by the theme of “Smart Transport Management”. Apply to participate in the Hackathon  on this link before May 14th,  2017.

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