The ICT Association of Uganda (ICTAU) Monday raised the red flag over the conference fees for the government-hosted eLearning Africa Conference, starting Wednesday 28th.
In a statement, the Association raised particular concern about the €380, required of ‘African Nationals based in Africa’, arguing that it is an “amount is greater than most educationists in Uganda earn on a monthly basis”.
“As a means of increasing participation and spreading the benefits of this conference being held in Uganda so that they reach more of the implementers on the ground, we propose that the conference organisers be encouraged to create a category of participants for whom the fees above will be waived, particularly for the knowledge-sharing sessions,” the statement reads.
PC Tech understands that the ICTAU raised this issue with the country’s ICT Ministry, with proposals that weren’t successful.
The Association’s members had flooded various forums with complaints about the hefty charges.
“…this conference I want to believe NOT targeting any elite club but the common people striving to learn and get good education as way out of poverty. I hope someone will listen,” read one of the comments.
See the full statement below:
RE: STATEMENT FROM THE ICT ASSOCIATION OF UGANDA (ICTAU) ON THE UPCOMING e-LEARNING AFRICA 2014 CONFERENCE
We congratulate Uganda for being chosen to host the 9th International Conference on ICT for Development, Education and Training, and commend the Government of Uganda and, in particular, the Ministry of ICT, for taking lead in supporting this event.
eLearning is especially important for countries on the African continent because it provides a thrilling opportunity to take advantage of technologies to overcome traditional barriers to development such as cost and distance.
As the conference organisers state in conference documentation, “The majority of Africans will not enjoy the full benefit of economic growth unless some fundamental issues are dealt with, such as how to overcome artificial barriers to trade, how to manage and anticipate changes, how to ensure that foreign investment aligns with sustainable development goals and how best to enable education, skills development and leadership to be of higher priority.”
It is with this in mind that we raise the matter of the Conference fees being charged for this conference – particularly the fees for ‘African Nationals based in Africa’, which stand at €380 (an equivalent of Ushs1,350,000 – One Million Three Hundred Fifty Thousand Shillings.)
As you will appreciate, these fees may be considered as an unintentional barrier to participation for the very people who should benefit from this conference taking place in Uganda. This amount is greater than most educationists in Uganda earn on a monthly basis, and would also constitute a substantial portion of a higher-level ICT professional in private employment.
Our interaction with various members and private ICT practitioners and entrepreneurs over the last few months underscores this concern.
Among attendants expected at the Conference are Education Administrators; Educational Association’s Personnel; Curriculum Designers; Education Policy Makers; School Principals and Administrators, Teachers and Trainers; Publishers, Instruction Designers and Content Providers, eLearning Specialists, Multimedia and Software Designers, System Integration Specialists and End-User Support Managers; and Social Media Specialists.
Whereas the selection of these professions and trades is quite appropriate, we fear that the catchment will be low because of the fees being charged.
As a means of increasing participation and spreading the benefits of this conference being held in Uganda so that they reach more of the implementers on the ground, we propose that the conference organisers be encouraged to create a category of participants for whom the fees above will be waived, particularly for the knowledge-sharing sessions.
In liaison with the relevant government departments, for instance, the conference organisers could arrange to host some educators or school administrators pro bono in order to make them change agents for eLearning even after the conference has come to a close.
In addition, we hope that conference materials should be circulated to the stakeholder groups mentioned above, free of charge, in a deliberate effort to spread these benefits. Indeed, in this regard, we offer ourselves as an Association to help in disseminating and sharing these materials to the stakeholder groups that form our membership or with whom we make contact on a regular basis.
We look forward to the Conference being a success as an event, and achieving its objectives in terms of impact on our society, and remain,