Vodafone Foundation recently announced the official commencement of its Instant Schools for Africa initiative, a learning program purposely designed to provide free, unlimited access to online educational materials for young people, teachers and educators in the sub-Saharan region of Africa.
The initiative, which was developed by Learning Equality, a leading non-profit organization offering open-source educational technology, is already in operation in other African countries like Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Mozambique, and Tanzania, according to Mashable.
Vodafone, which is already delivering tablets and teaching resources to refugee camps through its Instant Network Schools program in partnership with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, hopes to reach 5 million children with these learning materials by 2025.
“From refugee camps to remote parts of Africa with few schools, connectivity gives children the opportunity for a better future,” Vodafone Foundation Director Andrew Dunnett said in a statement Wednesday.
“Instant Schools for Africa has the potential to transform the lives of millions of children excluded from education, giving them free access to the same materials used by children in developed markets to help them achieve their ambitions.”
Free Digital Learning
According to Dunnett, the tablets come with videos and web pages that are fully optimized to ensure they can be accessed with the lowest bandwidth connection.
Since they are distributed to children in remote areas where there is no Internet, the tablets are programmed in a way that allows access to learning materials without the Internet.
Dunnett added that the program has the potential to transform the lives of many young people in Africa by offering them opportunities that many refugees and children in rural Africa (particularly girls) usually lack.
The Instant Network Schools program is reportedly having a major impact on young people in Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya, with the beneficiaries — most of whom are survivors of armed conflict in countries like South Sudan, Burundi, and DR Congo — saying the program has provided them with a rare opportunity to get an education.
“It’s a right. It’s like oxygen for us. A person can never live without oxygen,” says Fugia, who is living with a heart condition.
The program has also enabled several refugees in Kakuma Camp to pursue online degrees, bettering their chances of getting decent jobs.
The ongoing violence in South Sudan, Burundi, DR Congo, and other sub-Saharan African countries has destroyed learning facilities and displaced millions of families, making it impossible for children to go to school.
According to United Nations Children’s Fund, more than 25 million children between the ages of 6 and 15 are missing out on school in conflict zones across 22 countries, with South Sudan leading the pack followed by Chad.