UNICEF and Government of Uganda roll out Kolibri platform

To improve learning performance in hard to reach areas

By Catherine Ntabadde Makumbi
innovations for children
UNICEF Uganda/2019/Musoni

09 July 2019

The Government of Uganda in partnership with UNICEF is rolling out a digital platform that provides free learning content to pupils, students and teachers to help improve their learning, specifically in Mathematics and Science subjects.

Kolibri, a free and open source education technology platform allows in and out of school pupils and students to learn at their own pace, while providing teachers or mentors with educational resources.
 
Kolibri is an initiative between the Government of Uganda through the Ministry of Education and Sports and National Information Technology Authority of Uganda (NITA-U) and UNICEF.

With Kolibri, pupils, students and teachers in government schools can access content on Mathematics, Sciences, technology, arts, humanities and life skills in form of text, videos, interactive simulations and digital education games. The platform available online (e-learning.education.go.ug) and offline also contains videos in sign language, ebooks for children with low vision and audio books for the benefit of children with disabilities. 

"Together with UNICEF, we are rolling out Kolibri, an E-learning portal that targets children in hard to reach areas and provides offline access to education materials,”

says Peter Kahiigi, Director, eGovernment Services of NITA-U

Since February 2018, NITA-U has been hosting Kolibri free of charge, which enables any user of the eGovernment services to access its content.

The government through NITA-U has been implementing a National Backbone Infrastructure (NBI) project to provide connectivity to government ministries, departments and agencies across the country. NBI lays the fiber optic cable, which is extending connectivity nationwide and creating an enabling environment for e-Government services of which Kolibri is one of the 319 eGovernment applications.

At the launch of the 4th phase of NBI in Northern Uganda by President Yoweri Museveni in June 2019, Kolibri was demonstrated before the President who toured the computer lab at St. Charles Lwanga College in Koboko District where the launch took place. UNICEF and NITA-U revamped the computer lab while UNICEF installed Kolibri on the computers, trained the teachers and oriented the students on how to utilize the platform.

“With this thing here…, parents don’t have to buy books of Chemistry, Biology. What you do is you connect to the computer and look for the book you want,”

said Museveni
innovations for children
UNICEF Uganda/2019/Musoni

Currently, Kolibri is running in 33 government aided secondary schools with computer labs and 20 government aided primary schools where UNICEF has provided mobi-stations, projectors and laptops; and 12 youth friendly ICT centers in refugee settlements.

“Kolibri has a high demand for both formal and information education and the teachers view it as the critical tool for their teaching. We are grateful to Government for hosting the platform at no cost and including it in the eGovernment services. Under the leadership of the Ministry of Education and Sports, NITA-U and other stakeholders. We plan to scale up Kolibri to more districts and schools in Uganda. We don’t want to leave any one behind,”

says Doreen Mulenga, UNICEF Representative in Uganda

Deployment of Kolibri is currently focused on government-aided secondary schools and youth-friendly ICT centers equipped with digital kiosks. Deployment entails installing the Kolibri platform on the computers and solar-powered classmate laptops. Pupils and students are trained on key features of the platform and empowered with basic computer maintenance skills. Learners, even those with no prior exposure to computers, can navigate the platform with relative ease. Teachers have access to open educational resources curated and reviewed with the support of the National Curriculum Development Centre (NCDC) to ensure alignment to education standards and the lower secondary curriculum, especially for science, technology, and mathematics subjects.