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Connecting the unconnected to their dreams

©UNICEFKenya/2020/Lucas Odhiambo. Technicians finish up installation of internet router at Valley Bridge primary school computer library in Mathare

The Nokia-UNICEF shared-value collaboration 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 North-Eastern counties of Kenya and the urban informal settlements of the capital city Nairobi.

In the most recent phase of the program, we moved from CSR piloting to a commercial rollout, now having connected around 90 schools around the country. Read more in the related press release here.

The schools in Kenya have been closed due to pandemic restrictions for between 6 to 9 months. The newly connected schools are already making a difference to the lives of students in Kenya. Abdi and Mariam are just two of the many benefitting from the connectivity.

Acting together

Abdi and Mariam are among 50 students from Valley Bridge Primary School to have received the tablets in advance of the reopening of schools. They are able to access online digital revision materials through the shared value partnership with Nokia. Under the initiative, UNICEF Kenya, UNICEF Finland, and Nokia have brought together stakeholders from the government ministries, Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development, children, teachers, content providers and mobile network operators, with the aim of unlocking opportunities for digital learning and literacy. The program uses Nokia Fixed Wireless Access solution to connect the schools and enable digital learning.

Abdi Amdade, 16, a student at Valley Bridge Primary School, lives with his parents and six siblings in the Mathare informal settlements. Abdi had just joined class eight when schools were closed by the COVID-19 pandemic. “I miss my friends and I’m looking forward to the reopening of schools after corona,” says Abdi who is passionate about playing volleyball and would like to be a doctor. Although Abdi can’t go to school, he is able to continue learning as a result of the collaboration with Nokia to connect schools to the internet which has contributed to the GIGA initiative, an ambitious new digital initiative connecting Kenyan schools to the internet, turning them into wifi hubs. “Previously, I used to learn through my dad’s phone and the television. My siblings were using the same. We were always competing for them.” says Abdi. “But now I have my school tablet and internet access, I am able to access a lot of revision materials online. My studying is now easier though I miss being in school.” 

Abdi Amdade

©UNICEFKenya/2020/Lucas Odhiambo. Abdi Amdade revises on his own at Valley Bridge primary school computer library in Mathare

Fourteen-year-old Mariam Shaku lives with her elder sister, Margret, in Kiamaiko Village in Mathare informal settlements. Mariam, a class eight student at nearby Valley Bridge Primary School, was recently issued with a digital tablet. She is now able to access the internet through wifi that comes from the school. “I was struggling to read at home. I miss my teachers and friends,” says Mariam “With the tablet and internet access I’m learning more easily. I see a lot of science pictures because I love the subject, and this will help me pass my final exams.” Mariam says she would like to be a science teacher when she grows up.

Connectivity and technology provide opportunity and access. Connectivity allows us to live our daily lives more easily, more efficiently, with more safety and security but it also helps us to pursue our dreams, whoever we are and wherever we come from. The criticality of broadband connectivity has been further underscored by the effects of the pandemic. Broadband connectivity is simply essential today.

©UNICEFKenya/2020/Lucas Odhiambo. Mariam Shaku at Valley Bridge primary school computer library in Mathare

Mariam Shaku at Valley Bridge primary school in Mathare

©UNICEFKenya/2020/Lucas Odhiambo. Mariam Shaku at Valley Bridge primary school in Mathare

©UNICEFKenya/2020/Lucas Odhiambo. Abdi Amdade and Mariam Shaku at Valley Bridge primary school in Mathare

©UNICEFKenya/2020/Lucas Odhiambo. Technicians finish up installation of internet router at Valley Bridge primary school computer library in Mathare

Valley Bridge primary school in Mathare with a population of over one thousand students is among the selected schools to pilot the internet connectivity program in schools in urban informal settlements and marginalized communities.

©UNICEFKenya/2020/Lucas Odhiambo. Valley Bridge primary school in Mathare with a population of over one thousand students is among the selected schools to pilot the internet connectivity program in schools in urban informal settlements and marginalized communities.