Perceptions and valuation of a community-based education and services (COBES) program in Uganda

Post Date: 
Medical Teacher

Information and communication technology (ICT) has been advocated as a powerful tool for improving health education in low-resource settings. However, few evaluations have been performed of ICT perceptions and user experiences in low-resource settings. During late 2009, an internet-based survey on ICT was administered to students, tutors, and faculty members associated with a Community-Based Education and Service (COBES) program in Uganda. 255 surveys were completed. Response rates varied (students, 188/684, 27.5%; tutors, 14/27, 51.9%; faculty, 53/335, 15.8%). Most respondents owned mobile phones (98%). Students were less likely (p < 0.001) to own laptops (25%) compared to tutors (71%) and faculty (85%). Internet access at rural sites was uncommon; mobile phone coverage was almost universally present. Laptop ownership and internet and mobile phone access was not associated with high valuation of students' COBES experiences. Free text responses found that respondents valued ICT access for research, learning, and communication purposes. In summary, ICT penetration in this population is primarily manifest by extensive mobile phone ownership. Internet access in rural educational sites is still lacking, but students and educators appear eager to utilize this resource if availability improves. ICT may offer a unique opportunity to improve the quality of teaching and learning for COBES participants.

Chang LW, Kaye D, Muhwezi W, Nabirye R, Mbalinda S, Okullo I, Groves S, Kennedy C, Bollinger RC, Sisson S, Burnham G, Mwanika A. Perceptions and valuation of a community-based education and services (COBES) program in Uganda. Med Teach. 2011; 33: e9-e15.

  • Makerere University College of Health Sciences, Kampala, Uganda

  • Johns Hopkins School of Nursing, Baltimore, MD

  • Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD