, NAIROBI, Kenya, May 3 – Safaricom’s mother company Vodafone and its foundation, Vodafone Foundation, will provide school going children with free access to online learning materials in Kenya and other select African countries.
Dubbed ‘Instant Schools’, the initiative comes at a time when the government has kicked off the distribution of free laptops to 11,000 Standard One pupils in 150 schools.
In a statement, Vodafone said that the initiative will give access to online learning materials developed with the collaboration of Learning Equality, a non-profit provider of open-source educational technology services, education partners, ministries of education and local education experts in each country.
This is in a bid to use digital and mobile technologies to bring critical educational resources to the people who need them most.
“Mobile and digital platforms changes everything. Our Instant Schools for Africa programme will put a wide range of advanced learning materials – tailored for each local language and culture – in to classrooms everywhere, from city slums to remote villages. We believe Instant Schools for Africa could transform the life chances for very large numbers of young people,” said Vodafone Foundation Director Andrew Dunnett.
– How it will work –
According to the telco, Vodafone – through its African subsidiaries – will waive all charges for mobile data when children, young people, educators and others access the Instant Schools for Africa educational resources.
Additionally, the company said that it will engage with all mobile operators in the countries involved to encourage other providers to adopt a similar non-commercial approach in order to stimulate widespread adoption of what, for many young people, will be life-enhancing opportunities to learn and gain new skills.
The education resources provided under the Instant Schools For Africa programme will include subjects such as maths and science, providing millions of children and young people in seven countries with access to educational materials – from primary through to advanced high school level – comparable in quality, range and depth to those available in schools in the developed world.
To create impact, the materials have been aligned with local standards. Content will also cater to children who do not have access to formal education.
“Conventional teaching materials such as textbooks, reference books, past examination papers, assessment worksheets and classroom aids are prohibitively expensive for many African schools. Digital learning materials provided via mobile networks – with basic tablets for pupils and a laptop and projector for educators – offer a cost-effective alternative and can be updated instantly to ensure pupils receive the very latest information and insights in the classroom and at home,” reasoned the telco.
Just early last year, the Vodafone Foundation announced the creation of the Instant Classroom ‘digital school in a box’ – a portable case containing equipment to enable tablet-based teaching in schools where electricity and internet connectivity are unreliable or non-existent.
The Instant Classroom is being deployed in partnership with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees’ (UNHCR) Innovation and Education units to schools in refugee settlements in Kenya, Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
“We estimate that the Vodafone Foundation’s work in refugee settlements will benefit at least 62,000 children and young people by the end of 2016 and the Foundation is targeting up to three million children and young people in refugee settlements by 2020.”