Students in rural Uganda, who do not have access to laboratories, now have the opportunity to participate in simulated scientific experiments thanks to the digital age. Cyber School Technology Solutions, a development information systems company, is giving rural schools a ‘Virtual Lab’ that contains all the experiments carried out in the schools curricula.
This enables schools with limited resources to carry out all experiments via computer, introducing students not only to practical biology, chemistry and physics, but also to the computer world. Mbulire Secondary School, which is 32 kilometers west of Masaka town, is one of the newest cyber school partners. The Uganda Communications Commission and the Ministry of Education have equipped it with 10 computers and access to the internet to allow its students to use the Virtual Lab. Mr Noah Mugabi, the only IT teacher at the school says that since it was opened the number of students interested in science subjects has doubled.
He says some students who were written off as slow learners are more engaged in their studies and there is a thirst for more knowledge. The Virtual Lab uses everyday examples and through three dimension animations, demonstrates the concepts. The teaching aides are simple and practical to help in the learning of Mathematics, Biology, Physics and Chemistry. Mr Mugabi says incorporating computers in ordinary study has helped to demystify the technology to students who otherwise would not have time or money for IT studies.
Mbulire SSS has a population of more than 800 students, with each computer serving almost 80 learners. The resource constraints have however done little to dampen the enthusiasm among some students. Aisha Nagujja, an S3 student, says it is her first time to see a computer. She says the Virtual Lab has opened her eyes to science subjects, particularly biology for which she has a new love. But John Lwanga, an S4 student, is not as enthusiastic. He says the introduction of the Virtual Lab came too late to make an impact on him. He says he has to depend on the theory he learned to try to pass the national O-level exams next month.
The Uganda Government has contracted Cyber School Technology Solutions to equip and train teachers in 100 schools. Each school will install the learning management system and create a hybrid teaching model depending on its needs.
Story from The Daily Monitor, October 5, 2009
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