Just 48% of people in Uganda are using the internet, according to the Uganda Communications Commission (2019). The three main obstacles to internet use are lack of free or affordable access to technology, a lack of computer and online literacy skills, and limited awareness about the wealth of information, education, employment, communication and other opportunities the internet has to offer.
Women and unemployed youth are especially marginalized from computer and internet access. Women and girls have limited independent sources of income, lower literacy levels and lack confidence with technology. Unemployed young people also struggle to afford internet access, and need practical and marketable digital skills that are in high demand in a competitive job market.
EIFL Public Library Innovation Programme (EIFL-PLIP) is partnering with organizations in Uganda and the USA in a project that seeks to narrow the digital divide by enabling women and unemployed youth to participate in the digital society. The project, which expands and takes forward EIFL-PLIP’s previous training for public librarians in Uganda, is supported by the Wehubit Programme implemented by the Belgian development agency, Enabel.
Digital skills and inclusion through libraries in Uganda (‘Digital skills @ your local library’ for short) is a two-year project that will improve the capacity of 25 public and community libraries that already have computers and the internet for public use. The libraries will specifically offer digital skills training to women and unemployed youth and connect them to free online learning opportunities.
In addition, the project will reach out to remote rural communities, organizing camps at which people will learn digital skills, including using mobile phones to connect to the internet and find information and services.
EIFL is working with -
- National Library of Uganda (NLU), which has a mandate to develop policies and set standards for public libraries in Uganda, and to facilitate delivery of library services.
- Maendeleo Foundation, a Uganda-based non-governmental agency that promotes development through digital and job skills training.
- The 25 public and community libraries selected to take part in the project. All 25 currently have computers and the internet which is available for public use.
- Peer 2 Peer University (P2PU), a USA-based non-governmental agency that promotes and facilitates lifelong learning outside of institutions. P2PU developed the learning circles methodology and hosts an online learning platform that provides access to high-quality free online courses.
2021 - 2023
- Training 40 librarians from 25 libraries in adult learning and facilitation skills, basic digital and mobile information literacy skills, internet searching, knowledge of local online resources and services, internet safety and how to facilitate learning circles.
- Raising awareness about free or affordable computer and internet access in libraries, digital skills training and learning circles, and reaching out to women and unemployed youth.
- Providing basic digital and mobile information literacy training for women and youth in libraries.
- Identifying knowledge and skills needs of women and unemployed youth, and organizing and facilitating learning circles that meet these needs, drawing on courses available through the P2PU online learning platform.
- Organizing digital literacy camps for people living in remote rural areas.
- Contact: Ugne Lipeikaite, EIFL-PLIP Impact Manager: ugne @ eifl.net
- Interview: How entrepreneur Phionah Agaba and her group of craftswomen benefited from internet training offered by Mbarara City Library, one of the libraries participating in the project (published in the EIFL Annual Report 2021).
- Read about the project on the Wehubit platform.
- More about EIFL’s capacity building programme for public librarians in Uganda.