The Vodafone Foundation announced today that its ongoing education programmes in sub-Saharan Africa will expand to benefit more than five million children who are marginalised and excluded from traditional education.
Vodafone's charitable arm is launching Instant Schools For Africa across the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana, Lesotho, Mozambique and Tanzania to provide free access to quality online educational materials. Children, young people and educators will benefit from free and unlimited access to the Instant Schools for Africa online learning materials with zero mobile data charges in order to encourage widespread access to, and use of, the curricula on offer. The content will also be made available offline to support pupils and educators without access to the internet. A similar Vodafone Foundation initiative in South Africa - Vodacom e-School - is already benefiting 215,000 children.
Developed in conjunction with Learning Equality*, the not-for-profit provider of open-source educational technology solutions, the Instant Schools For Africa platform will offer global and local educational resources and include subjects such as maths and science, providing millions of children and young people with access to education materials - from primary through to advanced high school level.
Currently, the Vodafone Foundation is working with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to deliver classroom teaching through the Instant Network Schools programme, which uses specially-designed online educational resources and tablets to bring primary and high school education to children in refugee camps.
The Vodafone Foundation has a target to reach three million young refugees with the Instant Network Schools programme by 2025. Arthur D. Little estimates that the programme - already benefitting more than 43,000 young refugees each month - has the potential to improve the living conditions of 80 per cent of young refugees.
Instant Schools for Africa will take the Vodafone Foundation’s educational programmes beyond refugee camps to supporting children across Africa, including those who do not attend school. Sub-Saharan Africa has the lowest rate of primary school enrolment globally, with 34 million of the 57 million out-of-school primary age children living in the region. Cultural norms and remote communities have resulted in out-of-school rates for primary and secondary school being significantly higher for girls in sub-Saharan Africa. According to UNESCO UIS, 15 million girls of primary school age will never get the chance to learn to read or write in primary school compared with 10 million boys. Nine million of these girls live in sub-Saharan Africa. In this region, the under-five mortality rate is nearly twice as high for mothers with no education as for those who have completed secondary school.
The announcement comes as the Vodafone Foundation has published its Connected Education report, which found that the online educational resources made available through the Instant Schools For Africa programme could benefit more than 50 million children across Africa, India and Egypt by 2025, as the Vodafone Foundation increases its focus on these activities.
Vodafone Foundation Director Andrew Dunnett, said: "From refugee camps to remote parts of Africa with few schools, connectivity gives children the opportunity for a better future. 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."
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Note to editors
Videos and images of young refugees whose lives have been improved as a result of the Instant Network Schools tablet-based teaching programme can be found here: https://www.flickr.com/gp/vodafonegroup/Fempa7
*Learning Equality optimises all educational resources so that content can be delivered efficiently. Videos are optimised to be low bitrate and the web pages created by Learning Equality are configured to work over low-bandwidth data connections devices. Content can also be downloaded by schools for offline use. Pupils, teachers, parents and other educators simply need a data connection to the Vodafone network to access the materials. Vodafone and Learning Equality will provide other mobile operators with the technical specifications required to extend the benefits of this philanthropic programme to the largest possible number of beneficiaries.