Airtel Africa, UNICEF launched first ever digital education program in Uganda

(Last Updated On: 21 March 2023)

Airtel Africa in partnership with UNICEF and the government of Uganda has today launched a five-year multi-billion digital education project in Saint Marys’ Assumpta girls boarding secondary school.

The program intends to attach 100 schools to the internet and enroll 54,000 learners and 1,500, have been enrolled at the moment in all the 10 schools which will be connected to digital education.

The schools have been selected from the 29 UNICEF-supported districts in Uganda, with 3 in West Nile, 1 in central and 4 in Karamoja, and 2 inclusive primary schools.

Chief commercial officer of Airtel Uganda Mr. Amit Kapur said the digital education program is the aspiration of the multi-national telecommunications company to accelerate digital learning through connectivity, accessible educational platforms, and championing the importance of access to educational technology.

“We are launching the partnership as part of our long-term commitment to building Uganda’s next important human resources.”

Mr. Amit Kapur said Airtel has built a 100% 4G network that covers the whole country. Partners like UNICEF are making it possible to harness the power of the network to unleash the potential of a child enabling digital learning.

“We are appealing for a government review of government policy on entry-level phones and laptops to make them more affordable. More children will get equitable access to the digital learning opportunities the internet offers,” said Amit.

Students of St Mary’s Assumpta girls boarding secondary school. Photo by Marko Taibot/TND News.

The UNICEF Technology for development manager Mr. Patrick Mutombo said: “Nothing fulfills me more than seeing technology make it more possible for every child to realize their full educational and learning potential as digital learning is a critical accelerator for learning equity in the education sector in Uganda.”

 He said, unfortunately, the existing digital divide denies the most marginalized children equal access to education it leaves children particularly disabled children and those from the poorest households and remote rural communities further behind with few opportunities to catch up with their peers in urban settings in Uganda.

“It is critical that we invest to connect all schools to the internet. Connecting schools to the internet allows children to develop digital skills and access online learning content.

Achien Immaculate, a senior three student of Saint Marys’ Assumpta SS said digital learning though is not a new program in the school, the intervention of Airtel and UNICEF will accelerate digital learning which has personally benefitted her since she can do more research on topics, she does not understand well during lesson time.

“I have never traveled to Kampala, Europe, and America but digital education connects me in the same learning session with them, which is a silent privilege and extra motivation,” visibly delighted sounding Achien Immaculate said.

The launch according to the Adjumani district RDC Mr. Taban Data Peter is in line with the National Development Plan (NDPIII) and hailed Airtel and UNICEF for partnership which will enhance learning through sharing knowledge with learners in other parts of the world.

Mr. Taban Data Peter said the program is two-pronged apart from facilitating digital learning it also equips the students with computer skills since it entails the constant use of computers or smartphones.

The head teacher of Saint Marys’ Assumpta Girls SS says the digital environment created by Airtel Africa and UNICEF with ample information on the internet will enable the students to learn beyond the confines of time and space.

“Am humbled by your generosity and selecting Saint Marys’ Assumpta girls’ school as beneficiary number one in Uganda and the venue for launching the first ever digital education in Africa and Uganda.”

The programs cover 13, countries across Africa including Uganda accordingly are committed to contributing USD 7M in cash and another USD50m in kind to UNICEF.

A survey conducted across Uganda revealed that 90% of the households do not have access to the internet due to an undeveloped internet infrastructure more of the internet is unequally distributed with a 19.5 percent internet penetration rate in urban areas compared to 7.1 percent in rural areas.

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