By Rosemary Ogbonnaya
Airtel Africa and United Nations Children’s Fund,UNICEF have announced today a five-year pan-African partnership to help accelerate the roll-out of digital learning through connecting schools to the internet and ensuring free access to learning platforms across 13 countries.
As contained in a press statement obtained from the office of UNICEF Nigeria, by providing equal access to quality digital learning, particularly for the most vulnerable children, the partnership will help to ensure that every child reaches their full potential.
It was gathered that Airtel Nigeria and UNICEF Nigeria are longstanding partners, and under this new initiative are planning to help connect schools in Lagos and Kano to the internet, to enable children to learn digitally. This pilot initiative is expected to benefit over 10,000 schoolchildren in the two states.
Airtel Africa, a leading provider of telecommunications and mobile money services in Africa, is the first African private sector partner to make a multimillion-dollar commitment to ‘Reimagine Education’, a global initiative launched by UNICEF in 2020 calling for public and private sector investment in digital learning as an essential service for every child and young person across the globe. This initiative aims to to give children a chance to catch up on their learning needs amid the ongoing global pandemic.
The statement quoted the UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore as saying, “Hundreds of millions of children in Africa have seen their education disrupted or put on hold because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“By championing digital education for children in Africa, this partnership with Airtel Africa will help put children’s learning back on track.
Also, the UNICEF Nigeria Representative,Peter Hawkins was quoted saying that, “Digital learning is the gateway to equipping young people with the right skills – skills that will support them to transition from learning to earning. We are delighted that Airtel Nigeria shares in this vision, and is helping to drive the process of scaling up internet connectivity for school children in Nigeria.
According to the statement, Airtel Africa’s financial and in-kind contribution for this partnership is $57 million over five years to 2027. The programme will call on technology and expertise, in addition to direct financial support to connect schools and communities to the internet, enable free access to online educational content for learners. It will also provide vital data insights to inform UNICEF’s work to scale-up digital learning and help ensure it is sustainable and meets students’ needs across Africa.
“As a business, we have focused on education as a key area of our corporate social responsibility, and we are delighted that this partnership with UNICEF will enable us to accelerate results. It also coincides with the launch of our new sustainability strategy, which lays out our commitment to education,” said Olusegun Ogunsanya, CEO of Airtel Africa. “We are excited to be working with UNICEF to advance the education agenda on the continent through facilitating connectivity and online access to play a role in driving change,” he added.
The Airtel Africa and UNICEF pan-Africanpartnership will benefit learners not only in Nigeria, but also in Chad, Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Gabon, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Niger, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.