BY: Vitalis Ugoh, Calabar
Airtel has announced that it has joined hands with UNICEF under the Reimagine Education Initiative and will be connecting 620 primary schools in Nigeria to digital learning in the coming three months.
This partnership is expected to benefit 300,000 students across the country with access to the internet and devices.
In the first year of the five-year partnership, Airtel and UNICEF will provide all the resources for digital learning to the 620 identified schools including reliable broadband connectivity and free access to a world class curriculum through the Nigeria Learning Passport (NLP).
NLP, developed by the Federal Ministry of Education, UNICEF, and Microsoft, is an e-learning platform with online and offline capability that enables continuous access to quality education.
Airtel’s support will benefit students with uninterrupted access to quality learning materials. Airtel is also providing free access for any Airtel subscriber to Youth Agency Market Place (YOMA), a UNICEF digital platform for skilling, upskilling and encouraging young people’s engagement. Currently YOMA has 115,000 users in Nigeria.
This number is expected to grow with Airtel support, especially for young people living in hard-to-reach areas with no to low access to data or connectivity.
In an MOU signing ceremony to flag-off the initiative in Lagos recently, Airtel said it has completed the process of providing free access to the two digital platforms for the targeted beneficiaries. Airtel has committed US$1.3m worth of complimentary data for the two platforms and data provision for learners in the first year alone.
Twenty schools in Lagos and Kano will be connected in December 2022, while the connection of the remaining 600 schools will be concluded before the end of February 2023.
Speaking at the launch, the Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director of Airtel in Nigeria, Surendran Chemmenkotil, said, “Education, especially digital learning, forms a significant part of the company’s sustainability agenda for Nigeria and it will stop at nothing to bridge the huge digital gap that currently exists in mostly rural primary schools across the country”.
“With this programme and partnership, we are providing both world class education and digital inclusion for thousands of underprivileged children and our goal is to connect, empower and transform as many children and young people as possible. Education is power, and connectivity provides the leverage to become unstoppable. At Airtel, we are confident that this investment will not just transform lives but will create a wonderful future for millions of Nigerian children and young people,” he said.
The UNICEF’s Country Representative in Nigeria, Cristian Munduate said, “This is an important milestone and a step closer in reducing the digital divide in Nigeria. Quality digital learning is the fastest route to improving learning and equipping children and young people with the 21st century skills needed to fulfil their potential and to live their dreams. We are delighted that Airtel Nigeria shares UNICEF’s vision and will help in driving the process to scale-up access to digital learning for children and young people across these schools.”
The Re-imagine education project is a five-year partnership between Airtel and UNICEF to help accelerate the roll-out of digital learning by connecting schools to the internet and ensuring free access to learning platforms across 13 countries. By providing equal access to quality digital learning, particularly for the most vulnerable children, the partnership will help to ensure that every child reaches his/her full potential.