UNICEF, Airtel Africa to Provide Free Digital Education in 13 Countries

UNICEF and Airtel Africa have announced a pan-African partnership to help accelerate the roll-out of digital learning by connecting schools to the internet and providing free access to learning platforms across 13 countries.

UNICEF said that equal access to quality digital learning can be achieved by ensuring that the most vulnerable children have access to it.

The partnership will allow every child to reach their potential, a statement from the UN agency said.

Airtel Nigeria and UNICEF Nigeria, both longtime partners, under this new initiative, intend to help connect schools in Lagos and Kano to the internet, to enable children to learn digitally.

In the two states, over 10,000 schoolchildren are expected to benefit from this program.

Airtel Africa, a leading telecommunications and mobile money service provider in Africa, is the first African private sector partner to commit multimillions of dollars to UNICEF’s Reimagine Education initiative.

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Under the initiative, the public and private sectors will invest in digital learning as a critical service for children and young people worldwide.

Children will be able to meet their learning needs as a result of this initiative amid the global COVID-19 pandemic.

The Executive Director of UNICEF, Henrietta Fore, said, “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,” Fore is quoted as saying.

Also, Peter Hawkins, UNICEF Nigeria Representative, said, “Digital learning is the gateway to equipping young people with the right skills.

“Skills that will support them to transition from learning to earning.

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“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.”

Airtel Africa’s financial and in-kind contribution for this partnership is $57 million over five years to 2027.
In addition to providing direct financial support, the programme will use technology and expertise to connect schools and communities to the internet, enabling free access to online educational content for all students.

UNICEF will also be able to use the data to guide its efforts to scale-up digital learning across Africa and ensure it is sustainable.

Contributing, Olusegun Ogunsanya, the CEO of Airtel Africa, said, “We 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.

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“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,” Ogunsanya said.

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