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CLOSE THE DIGITAL DEVIDE PROJECT

Through one of our partner EIFL, NLU together with 2 other partner received a grant to transform 25 public and community libraries into digital literacy training centres for women and youth. The exciting project will transform 25 public and community libraries in Uganda into digital literacy learning centres, provide internet access and training to thousands of women and unemployed youth and connect them to free online learning opportunities. Currently only 48% of Uganda the Uganda population are using the internet according to the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC).

The three main obstacles to internet use are: lack of free or affordable access to technology; a desperate need for computer and online literacy skills; a poor knowledge about the wealth of information, education, employment, communication and other opportunities the internet has to offer. The project titled “Digital skills@ your local library” specifically reaches out to women and unemployed youth because they are most marginalised from computer and internet access. Women and girls have lower literacy levels, limited access to independent sources of income, and lack confidence with technology. Unemployed young people need practical and marketable digital skills that are in high demand in a competitive job market.

The two year project tackles obstacles to internet use in three ways: it raises community awareness about availability of free or low-cost internet access and training in libraries.; it skills librarians from the 25 libraries to become effective ICT trainers, and it connects learners to free online content and educational courses.

In addition to specifically including women and unemployed youth, the project will reach deep into the rural communities, organising camps at which people will learn digital skills, including using mobile phones to connect to the internet to find relevant information and services. “The grant opens up new and exciting opportunities for the Eifl Public Library Innovation programs (EIFL-PLIP) to expand its work in Uganda and to put together a strong partnership to empower public and community libraries to offer sustainable training that will benefit women and youth. When equipped with technology and skills, public libraries play a critical role in narrowing the digital divide, contributing to inclusion of the most vulnerable groups in society”.