Sironko Digital Village
In 2005, YTF’s vision for Uganda materialized when we hosted 2 international volunteers (Resty M. and Charles G.) as part of the United Nations Information Technology Program, UNITeS. Charles and Resty were students at Kampala University in Uganda and spent six months as apprentices at YTF’s Owerri Digital Village (ODV). During this time, they learned how to establish and sustain a center like the ODV, why community involvement from the onset of the program is imperative and how and why YTF develops and implements customized programs with input from the beneficiaries.
When Resty and Charles returned to their town of Sironko, they began to have discussions with YTF about replicating the vision in Sironko. Sironko is located in the eastern region of Uganda and is made of two counties – Bulambuli and Budadiri. It has a population of about 283,092 (Population Census, 2002).
Sironko has been hit greatly with HIV/AIDS epidemic and one of the reasons for the increasing rates of the epidemic continues to be the high numbers of teenage girls who cross to Kenya to find earn a living through casual employment. It is estimated that about 76,904 out of 198,207 children below 18 years of age are orphans and vulnerable children.
YTF worked with Charles and Resty as well as a group of extraordinarily committed online and in-country volunteers to establish the Sironko Digital Village (SDV) in 2007. This collaboration led to YTF’s winning of the prestigious United Nations Online Volunteers Award. Working with our local team in Uganda, YTF also learned that very few schools in Sironko provided basic technology education and that most school-age children were unfamiliar with computers, hence the center was established to serve as a base for:1). Training young people in the use of information and communication technology (ICT).
2). Providing small business services to the community and local schools (volunteers at the SDV, for instance, created the first digital report cards for a local primary school).
3). Empowering youth to affect positive and concrete changes in their community using appropriate technology.
4). The village’s only nursery school established and piloted in 2009.
The Sironko Digital Village offers a safe environment where young people in the community can come to learn basic word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, web design and conduct research. The library houses a wide array of books across various subject areas and many of the books were donated by volunteers in the U.S. and in Europe. Since the establishment of the Sironko Digital Village, hundreds of young people have become computer literate, teachers, nursing students, government workers and civil society members have been trained. SDV has also provided a platform to pilot rural IT outsourcing.
Communities Top 3 Challenges:
Access to Education (Quality and Relevance)
Access to Resources like Books and Computers
High Rate of Orphans due to HIV/AIDS
How Our Programs Directly Address These Challenges:
Services at SDV were first focused on providing books, computers and training. Shortly after, the community members voiced their concerns about childhood education and a nursery school was established. However, one major challenge continues to remain that only about 25% of those who complete primary education in this district are able to continue their secondary school education, primarily due to the cost. The number grows exponentially when considering higher education. 32,200 children in Sironko aged 6-9 years were enrolled in primary school (Population Census, 2002), with an enrollment ratio of 33.2% males and 36.4% females. Enrollment decreases with increasing age. By age 20 – 24 only 2.4 % females were enrolling in school as compared to 5.1% males. Very few females progress to higher level education; or rather the dropout rate of females from school is higher than that of males. To address this issue, the SDV team established a scholarship fund that provides educational scholarships for young talent in the community.
Sironko Digital Village – Additional Information
Country Director: Charles Galusha
Office Location (s): Sironko
Regional Presence: Sironko, Budadiri
Services Offered: Capacity and Skills Building, Advocacy, Entrepreneurship and Leadership Training, Technology Literacy