Uganda: Addressing Lack of Internet Access through an Open Source Education Platform and Raspberry Pi Technology

students learning with pi technology.

Without access to the internet, Ugandan students and young professionals are disconnected from opportunities to learn and build capacity.  

Project description

Education remains tenuous in Uganda and across East Africa. In rural communities, where most people live, students must travel long distances to attend school and graduation rates are low, especially for girls. The ongoing pandemic has made the situation even worse. In Uganda, schools closed for more than a year, without opportunity for remote instruction or learning. With no access to internet, Wifi, or computer deices, disruption to education has been severe and pervasive. Even those with college degrees lack access to technology, internet, or the ability to connect with valuable web-based resources. 

While lack of internet access represents a fundamental obstacle to education and vocational development, it is also an opportunity for innovation. Through open source education platforms, like Kolibri, students can access "curated libraries of educational content from sources all over the globe, with the content available completely offline, on low cost devices."  Kolibri utilizes single servers (connected to internet)  to download educational content and seed other smart devices allowing for sharing and engaging in low resourced areas without internet connectivity. 

Through a new ELN project, we seek to explore the possibilities of utilizing Kolibri to provide educational and vocational enrichment within target communities in rural Uganda. The ELN will partner with Tokens Life Uganda, an NGO established in 2013 by generous committed individuals, who came together to improve and promote the lives of the vulnerable persons, youth, elderly, illiterate, those faced with poverty, those living with HIV/AIDS and those fighting all kinds of economic and social barriers in the various communities of Uganda.

Project outcome

Together, we invite UB students to collaborate through the following categories of activities:

  1. Exploring the functionalities of Raspberry Pi technology related to hosting the Kolibri platform and collaborating with Tokens of Life Uganda to develop and disseminate educational and vocational resources in nearby regions.
  2.  Engage with members of Tokens of Life Uganda to explore available open source content and identify areas fro content development related to participating schools and groups of young people interested in connecting with emerging opportunities. this exploration will generate new project opportunities for UB students. 

The specific outcomes of this project will be identified by the faculty mentor at the beginning of your collaboration. 

Project details

Timing, eligibility and other details
Length of commitment Variable
Start time Fall, Spring, Summer
In-person, remote, or hybrid?
Level of collaboration Variable
Benefits Academic Credit, Volunteer, Work Study
Who is eligible All majors welcome

Core partners

Project mentor

Cindi Tysick

Director of Education Services (Research, Education and Outreach);

UB Libraries

520C Lockwood Library

Phone: (716) 645-8629


Start the project

Please note that opportunities to work with global NGO partners are limited and based on partners' indicated needs and preferences.  If you would like to be considered for a global NGO project, send an interest email to with the following information and one of our staff will respond with more information via email :  

  • Share relevant background information about yourself and why you are interested in working with the specific NGO partner
  • What specific skills or experiences are relevant to the needs of the NGO partner?
  • Attach a current resume or cv 
  • Indicate your availability to work on an NGO project and whether you plan to connect your engagement with a particular course or requirement 

Note that all ELN projects require a UB mentor. The ELN team can help you identify an appropriate mentor but it will be your responsibility to secure a mentor before beginning a project.

Preparation activities

The specific preparation activities for this project will be customized through discussions between you and your project mentor. Please be sure to ask them for the instructions to complete the required preparation activities.

Once you begin the digital badge series, you will have access to all the necessary activities and instructions. Your mentor has indicated they would like you to also complete the specific preparation activities below. Please reference this when you get to Step 2 of the Preparation Phase. 

  1. Examine the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the history of the framework. Then select one SDG to focus on as you work through your project.
  2. Download and complete this PowerPoint template.