Today we’re talking to Emmanuel Semutenga, who helps young people in Uganda to develop key IT skills. Of course, LibreOffice plays a role in this…
To start with, tell us a bit about yourself!
I’m currently a back-end web developer by profession. I’m also a Project Manager for the project entitled “ICT for youth employability” at Kampabits, where my main work is on curriculum development. I live in Kampala, Uganda, Rubaga Division.
My hobbies and interests include blogging, cycling with Ultimate Cycling Uganda, dancing, making new friends, movies and hackathons.
What is Kampabits, and what does it do?
Uganda currently has the highest youth population between 17 to 24 years – that makes 80 percent of the population, and most of these young people lack the practical skills to enable them to get employed. Hence the intervention of Kampabits.
Kampabits is a youth-based organization founded in 2010 that uses ICT multimedia creatively to improve the lives of less privileged youth from the non-formal settlements. We also create safe spaces for persons with disabilities to freely express themselves while learning these in-demand skills.
We have helped 350 young people since our inception, with skills in computer literacy, graphic design and coding skills (front-end, back-end and full-stack developers) during our six month trainings. Kampabits later places these young people in a three month internship with their partner companies.
Kampabits also runs a “Women in Tech” project that trains 15 women in advanced coding skills, to make them employable, in a period of six months. This project focuses on women who have prior knowledge of computer basics. They are later placed in outsourcing jobs in companies like Tunga.
How does LibreOffice fit into your work?
During the whole scope of the training, especially our computer literacy sessions, presentations and curriculum development, we use LibreOffice (Writer, Impress and Calc) to train the young people in word processing, presentations and business book keeping.
This is done to remove costs the involved in acquiring proprietary software, and also show the them that free alternatives will deliver the same quality of work as proprietary software. We use Ubuntu, Lubuntu and Linux Mint as our main operating systems – and they always come with LibreOffice preinstalled.
Other free software we use includes: Gimp as an alternative for Photoshop, Inkscape in place of Illustrator, OBS Studio for recording screencasts, Visual Studio Code as our main code text editor, and Scratch to introduce youth to computer programming
We also use both the Raspberry Pi 2 and 3 models to compliment our computer lab.
What advice would you have for other projects with similar goals?
Using free software alternatives can help to divert funds to the more pressing needs of organizations – like acquiring more computers to cater for more beneficiaries. So I would advice other organizations to try them out in phases, until they feel comfortable enough to overhaul the whole structure.
A huge thanks to Emmanuel for his work, and it’s great to see free and open source software making a big change all across the planet. Everyone is welcome to join the LibreOffice project, regardless of their location or language, and help us to spread the word and break down digital divides!