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First 10 schools connected in Kenya as part of Nokia and UNICEF shared value project

Image copyright: ©UNICEF/2019/Oloo

  • First 10 schools connected across Kenya working with local Mobile Operators
  • Currently more than 1000 children can now connect via the Internet for digital learning
  • More than 6000 students can connect immediately once schools fully re-open as expected in January 2021
  • Connecting children and teachers with quality digital education and materials
  • The program particularly focuses on girls and children with disabilities
  • The whole initiative has reached more than 90 000 children in Kenya so far

Since 2018 we have been working with UNICEF Finland and UNICEF Kenya to build a multi-partner collaboration to bring internet connectivity and inclusive digital learning to Kenyan schools in rural and disadvantaged urban areas across the country.

In September and October 2020, the first 10 schools across Kenya were successfully connected using Nokia Fixed Wireless Access solution, which is used to connect more children in a fast and efficient way with high-speed and high-capacity broadband needed for remote digital education.

The program has four key aims:

  • Accessible quality digital education content
  • Meaningful teacher training
  • Internet connectivity solutions for schools
  • Joint communication and advocacy

There are still children in many countries who have no access to good quality education or digital skills.  This lack of access to learning often affects girls and children with disabilities more than other groups in many countries. As part of the cooperation and trialling of technical solutions with UNICEF Kenya we began to build a shared value program that aims to improve the quality and equity of education for children, particularly girls and children with disabilities in one of the most difficult contexts in Africa – the northern counties of Kenya and the disadvantaged urban informal settlements of the capital city Nairobi. Generally, Kenya has emphasized the importance of digital learning and taken significant steps to support digital learning and greater school connectivity. 

The program has been able to convene public and private stakeholders, including ministries and authorities, and all Mobile Network Operators resulting in secured buy-in for the testing of the fixed wireless access connectivity solution and thus connected the first schools. Importantly the program has also piloted the accessible digital textbook, mapped and curated digital Open Educational Resources (OERs) resulting in increased capacity and availability of digital content for the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD) and Kenyan Schools

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As part of the program outcomes, so far 269 teachers have been trained on the use of digital materials in the Kenyan classrooms and supported KICD to monitor and further improve the use of digital learning in Kenya. The shared-value partnership was also officially launched at the Nairobi Innovation Week in June 2019, collaborated on articles for the commemoration of World Children’s Day and published Human Interest Stories on the accessible digital textbook as part of advocacy.

The school connectivity is based on Nokia Fixed Wireless Access solution and Mesh WiFi extending the coverage offered by local Mobile Network Operators Safaricom and Airtel to rural areas and unconnected urban areas, and connected to Kenya Education Cloud, where teachers can download digital educational material, to be installed on tablets.

The COVID-19 pandemic and related lockdowns and school closures have revealed the greater division between those who are connected and those who are not, at a time when many countries are having to ensure continuity of learning as well as connectivity for learners. Proving solutions that work and creating learning hubs in schools will help enable continued learning for students and access to digital learning materials for teachers. The continued development of school connectivity and digital learning will be a key enabler as countries begin to build back better in a post-pandemic world.