Skip to main content

Empowering unconnected
and underprivileged
children in Kenya
with UNICEF

In Kenya, children and young people make up two-thirds of the population. Almost 12 million are students in more than 38 000 schools across the country. Only 39 per cent of 7 to13-year-old students from the ASAL counties can solve basic numeracy or literacy tasks in English and Kiswahili. For girls, the situation is even worse, with national enrolment 10 per cent lower than that of boys and the learning achievement five per cent lower than that of boys. Gender disparities are further highlighted in certain locations.

Children with disabilities face major difficulties as around 90 per cent are estimated to be out of school because of stigmatization, curricula issues, inadequately equipped schools, and lack of teachers with special needs training, despite the Kenyan government’s acknowledgement of the right to education for all children. Happily, the government’s increased desire to address the barriers that prevent all children from accessing quality education is a positive sign.

CRC 30

To support improvements in education for all and drive a shared value approach, Nokia teamed up with UNICEF and the Government of Kenya in a multi-partner collaboration to bring internet connectivity and digital learning to disadvantaged Kenyan schools. This shared value partnership aims to showcase possible connectivity solutions and the benefits for children and teachers to be able to access quality digital content. The program is scalable due to the Government’s commitment on the Digital Literacy Project which already distributed more than 1 million computer tablets in schools and the Government’s objective to connect all 40 000 schools of Kenya.

The initial phases of the project have concentrated on digital literacy. UNICEF were able to start working on the development and testing of an accessible digital textbook in Kenya. Existing investment by the Government of Kenya in procuring digital devices and a request for support for the development of accessible digital content as well as a supportive policy environment in form of the new Ministry of Education "Sector Policy for Learners andTrainees with Disabilities" helped move the project forward. Additional resources and support received through the shared-value partnership with Nokia, allowed testing of the textbook in a wider range of schools, aimed at all children, including the most marginalized.

In 2019, the project achieved for example the following results: at least 125 children with disabilities were reached by the Accessible Digital Textbook while with our support UNICEF distributed 2,000 hygiene kits which are particularly aimed at supporting girls, along with 650 education kits which provide education materials for around 100 students per kit. Many children were impacted by the distributed hygiene and education materials and through their teachers’ learned new skills. 211 teachers were trained, and they further share their improved skills with around 150 students each.

Derrick and Collins from Aga Khan Primary School signing along with the help of the interpreter in the digital accessible textbook.

Derrick and Collins from Aga Khan Primary School signing along with the help of the interpreter in the digital accessible textbook. 

©UNICEFKenya/2019/Rabenstein

The collaboration will continue into Phase 2 which will leverage prior investments, technical expertise and Nokia connectivity solutions to support the Government of Kenya in reaching key goals. This shared value collaboration aims to showcase possible connectivity solutions and the benefits for children and teachers to be able to access quality digital content.

The continuation aims to reach around 15,000 beneficiaries, specifically children in disadvantaged areas of Kenya with a focus on girls as well as children with disabilities. The geographical reach of the project shall be expanded beyond the current project implementation in the urban informal settlements of Nairobi and the remote areas of Garissa and Turkana County to reach urban informal settlements in Kisumu and potentially surrounding areas. Creating shared value collaboration between private and public sector allows innovation to thrive and will help Kenya improve education to all including the marginalized.

Education is a right for all children.

Madam Beth guiding Wesley through his class work. UNICEFKenya/2019/Ngochi

Madam Beth guiding Wesley through his class work.

UNICEFKenya/2019/Ngochi