The Board of Directors of the African Development Bank, on November 21, approved the Uganda Support to Higher Education, Science and Technology Project, a key Human Development operation that will contribute to the economic and social transformation of Uganda and the East African sub-region.
In line with Uganda's National Development Plan for 2011-2015, the project aims to turn the country into a regionally competitive industrial economy by 2025 by developing skills and investing in science and technology.
Uganda has seen higher education student enrolment rise sharply in the last five years - a 13 per cent increase from 2010 to 2011 alone. However, this has not been matched with skilled university professors, or the necessary infrastructure. Funding of facilities with ICT equipment has been low and has hampered student access to ICT. In addition, it is estimated that in order for Uganda to meet its goals to become an economic competitive player in the region, it needs to strengthen capacity in Science, Technology and Innovation. Yet a mere 30 per cent of students are enrolled in science and technology.
Through the AfDB's support, 35,000 more Ugandan students will be able to enroll in Science, Technology and Innovation programs on campus and a further 12,000 through virtual learning. The Bank loan is financing six public universities and two degree-awarding institutions ensuring that ICT equipment and networks are available to the eight targeted institutions. This will enable Uganda to link up with other regional and international centres of excellence, and ensure that graduates are suited for the job market, locally and beyond.
The project was designed in line with the AfDB's Long Term Strategy and its Human Capital Development Strategy, where human capital, inclusive growth and reducing youth unemployment are prioritized. It is an example of the New Model for Education in Africa (NEMA), being spearheaded by the AfDB, which supports a higher usage of ICT in education.