By Nathan Eyagu
NGORA - Uganda's leading telecommunications company, MTN Uganda, in collaboration with Sense International Uganda, a non-governmental organization dedicated to assisting individuals with disabilities, unveiled a comprehensive ICT lab at Ngora School for the Deaf, facilitated through MTN Uganda's foundation.
This donation, initiated by Sense International and funded by MTN Foundation, extends support to various schools, including Hornby High Junior School, Salaama School for the Blind in Mukono, Masaka School for the Deaf, Gulu High School, and Ngora School for the Deaf.
Otim Edward, the Country Director of Sense International Uganda, expressed gratitude to the Ugandan government for recognizing disabilities and fostering support. Highlighting the significance of digital technology in empowering learners, he mentioned the contribution of 10 computers, sound enhancers, free one-year unlimited internet, and other gadgets to equip students for active participation in the global community. Edward added, "I appreciate MTN for partnering with us; with this technology, the school can be restored to its former glory."
In a statement delivered by MTN Trustee Uganda, Mr. Onapito Ekomoloit, representing CEO Silvia Mulinge, emphasized that Ngora School of the Deaf, akin to Salama School of the Deaf, receives a well-equipped, state-of-the-art computer lab with specialized software and free internet for a year. MTN Uganda considers this initiative part of its commitment to providing a conducive learning environment, especially as they celebrate 25 years in the country.
The estimated value of the lab equipment is 124 million UGX, benefiting approximately 42 institutions to date.
The urgency of such initiatives is underscored by World Bank statistics, revealing that Uganda has the youngest age structure globally, with 77 percent of its population under the age of 30. Simultaneously, youth unemployment in the country stands at a staggering 64% to 70%, with up to 400,000 young people entering the job market annually for a mere 9,000 jobs.
Ekadit Charles Michael, the Headteacher of Ngora School for the Deaf, expressed gratitude for the assistance while pledging unwavering commitment to the project's sustainability, particularly in acquiring data bundles. He acknowledged challenges faced by the school, including a lack of water closet facilities in the dormitories, insufficient funds for school activities due to limited enrollment, a shortage of instructors for vocational programs despite possessing necessary equipment, and the need for repairs to a collapsed pit latrine and the school fence. Michael concluded, "I convey this before stakeholders and district leadership, and we shall 'never give up.' Whoever takes over after my retirement should ensure the project continues thriving."
Moses Mathew Ocung, the District Education Officer for Ngora district, stressed the need for learner-friendly assessments for those with special needs and urged a shift toward e-learning.
Deputy RDC Ngora district, Ayoo Jacinta, appreciated the headteacher's leadership and emphasized the importance of safeguarding the project, training instructors, and ensuring responsible use of the equipment.
Othieno Gerald, representing the Ministry of Education and Sports, Commissioner Special Needs Education, expressed gratitude for the support, emphasizing the role it plays in overcoming challenges faced by learners with special needs.