Uganda has both the world's youngest population -- more than half of Ugandans are under the age of 18 - and the highest youth unemployment rate. To meet the needs of this exploding youth population, UNICEF and its partners are rolling out the Digital Drum - a rugged, solar-powered computing kiosk that serves as the centerpiece of a robust digital inclusion program of IT skill building, access to educational content, and youth entrepreneurship - as youth managers assume responsibility for kiosks.
According to a recent World Bank report, Uganda has both the world's youngest population -- more than half of Ugandans are under the age of 18 - and the highest youth unemployment rate. In the field of education, only 50.2% of children are competent in literacy at Primary 6 level, and drop-out rates are high, with only 64% of pupils complete their primary school. Many end up searching for job and small business opportunities without the proper training and tools to succeed.
UNICEF has adopted a two pronged approach: it partners with the Government to address the systemic challenges facing the Uganda educational system, as it provides supplementary opportunities for youth. The Digital Drum--a robust computing kiosk sourced and constructed locally, and one of Time's 50 Best Inventions of 2011--serves as the centerpiece of a program of digital inclusion to advance education, ICT skill-building, and youth entrepreneurship.
The Digital Drum is a sustainable solution to the twin challenges of providing skill building and entrepreneurship opportunities to Uganda's under-served youth, and increasing digital inclusion for youth and their communities--about 10% of whom currently use the Internet. UNICEF has plans to scale the Digital Drum program to as many as 100 sites through 2013.