Is the Concept of a School Computer Club Obsolete?

Kal training community members in ICT. Students could support such training programs too.

Kal training community members in ICT. Students could support such training programs too.

In an era where ICT (Information and Communication Technology) and Computer Studies are subjects on the school curriculum, one is tempted to ask what role the computer club plays in the school. Are we seeing the end of the Computer club? I dare say, that more than ever before, the computer club is extremely relevant and a plays a pivotal role in the success of our school.
The Club enables students to organise themselves, take initiative, purposefully explore and learn critical ICT/Computer skills without the pressure of examinations. It enables them to master skills they value, rather than cram stuff taught by a teacher. In the process, they become life-long learners who take responsibility for their learning.

Moreover, students develop soft skills critical for excellence in the modern world. Take the students who produce the student newsletter at Mengo Senior School –  “MengoEye” for example. Not only do they learn technical word processing, internet research and publication skills; they also learn how to produce content that is relevant to their community. They learn to estimate demand of their product (since they have to sell the newsletter), marketing, and financial and project management skills. It comes as no surprise then that former editors of “MengoEye” like Ssemwanga Abbas (Business owner in Dubai), Ronald Ogwal, and Katimbo Edward (Animation Specialists for leading Telecom Companies in Uganda) all have their roots in the club. These students testify that the skills gained during their participation in the activities of the club propelled them to explore, learn and develop into the successful people they are today.

Besides “Mengo Eye” newsletter, computer club students prepare PowerPoint presentations during the PTA (Parents-Teachers Association) Annual General Meeting. Through this, they not only acquire technical skills but also learn how to work under pressure, with tight deadlines. They discover at a very early age that computer related works they produce have great value in the real world. Little wonder that Paul Sessanga developed from producing PowerPoint Presentations to making videos and now runs a successful enterprise (LifeTime Media & Events Ltd) which he attributes to his involvement in the club. The club provides students with a platform to relate with parents, to reverse roles and take responsibility. It allows them to shine, to be confident and feel empowered.

Furthermore, it provides an avenue for those students who do not offer ICT as a subject to access opportunities offered by ICT. This opens up a whole new world to students who under normal circumstances would never have accessed ICT training.
At the micro departmental level, computer club students serve a very crucial role in running ICT facilities. For instance, they help in the administration of computer labs, taking turns to supervise peers and ensure full utilization of the facility. Some help in basic maintenance such as updating anti viruses, scanning, etc.; while other assist in teaching peers. Their contribution is invaluable in the successful operation of ICT facilities.

Conclusively, we need to foster formation and nurturing of ICT/Computer clubs despite (and possibly because of) the roll-out of ICT curriculum in schools, for their proven ability in impacting skill development and for their role in organising students.

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Kalema Golooba Ayub