EdTech for Ugandan girls: Affordances of different technologies for girls’ secondary education during the Covid‐19 pandemic
Background This article discusses the use of educational technology (EdTech) in girls’ education at PEAS schools (‘Promoting Education in African Schools’) in rural Uganda during the COVID-19-related school closures. Purpose This paper addresses a research gap surrounding the potential use of EdTech to support girls’ education, focusing on the barriers to girls’ EdTech use and how technology might be used to enhance girls’ education in disadvantaged rural areas – specifically their academic learning and their social and emotional learning. Approach and Methods A sequential, explanatory mixed-methods case study approach was used. Quantitative exploration of a dataset of 483 Ugandan students, from 28 PEAS schools, was first conducted, followed by interviews with PEAS staff to elucidate the reasons and context behind the findings. Findings Findings show female students are less likely than male students to have access to their caregivers’ phones for learning. The form of EdTech that appeared most beneficial for girls’ academic learning was radio; girls also had significantly more interest in tuning into radio broadcasts than boys did. Also, poorer boys were more likely to be inspired by SMS messages than wealthier boys. Apart from gender-based differences, students with more highly educated parents found SMS messages more helpful, and phone calls from teachers appeared to help boost younger students’ self-confidence. Policy Implications The findings suggest that policymakers need to: carefully consider provision of education through multiple modes of EdTech in order to ensure that it reaches all students; ensure that caregivers are involved in the strategies developed for girls’ education; make EdTech interventions interactive; and consider language in EdTech interventions. Given the gender differences which emerged, the findings are of relevance both to supporting the continuation of educational provision during periods of school closure, and also in terms of finding additional ways to support girls’ education alongside formal schooling.