Breaking education barriers with instant network schools

Breaking education

The Vodafone Foundation has already helped bring quality education to thousands of refugee students across Africa and is now collaborating with the United Nation High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and expanding their efforts.

Instant classroom is a free initiative and is a ‘school in a box’ concept aimed at providing technology that can be set up in minutes. With the assistance of UNHCR, the foundation has been successful in setting up 36 Instant Network Schools across some of most underprivileged countries in Africa (Kenya, Tanzania, The Democratic Republic of the Congo and South Sudan. To date, approximately 1000 teachers have utilized the project to help educate 86,500 refugee students. The Vodafone foundation is working to expand this success and is aiming to reach half a million refugees by 2025.

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi said,

We are very proud of our partnership with the Vodafone Foundation. Their continued commitment will help refugees in some of the most challenging environments, opening a window to the world through connected learning. Education is crucial in offering refugees the chance to rebuild their lives. This expanded partnership will help break barriers to education, allowing refugees to better shape their own futures.”

Each Instant Classroom consists of:

  • 25 tablets for students
  • A laptop for the teacher
  • A projector
  • A speaker
  • A Wi-Fi router that uses 3G to connect to the internet
  • A charger that can simultaneously recharge all the equipment
  • All the necessary cables
  • Localized educational materials

The success of the programme speaks for itself as it has already produced an increase of 61% in ICT (information and communication technology) and literacy amongst the students that took part with a 125% increase

About Instant Network Schools

The aim of Vodafone foundation Instant Network Schools is to provide a quality digital education with a focus on improving ICT, digital and literacy skills. The collaboration between UNHCR and the Vodafone Foundation has existed since 2013 when UNHCR requested Vodafone’s expertise to enhance the quality of education in the refugee camps. The Instant Network Schools programme was designed by teams from both parties, and leverages the best technical capabilities from Vodafone and the educational knowledge from UNHCR. The concept ensure that INS can be set up by the teacher in minutes and includes 25 tablets, a laptop for the teacher, a projector, speakers, 3G modem and a library of digital educational resources. The project is also helping to shape and direct UNHCR connected Education approach, which aims to help bridge the digital divide.

The successful impact of the project within schools is a result of ensuring refugees and their hosting communities, have the necessary access to accredited quality equipment and the relevant learning opportunities and curriculum.

So far, Vodafone has 70 trained employees which make up the Instant Network Team. These volunteers remain on standby and are prepared to deliver, set up the schools and also manage an introduction onsite, in cooperation with UNHCR. All trainings are designed and based on human-centric design principles with an aim to building ownership of the programme within the community itself, ensuring that the technology responds to the local needs, supporting self-sufficiency and independence.

In 2016 3 Instant Network Schools were set up in a remote part of The Democratic Republic of the

Congo known as Equateur Province – with Vodacom Congo (Vodafone’s counterpart in the DRC) and UNHCR. The 3 schools were established across 2 camps (Mole and Boyabu) and had to quickly cater for around 50,000 refugees who had fled civil war in a neighbouring country.

After 5 days of comprehensive training, all of the INS teachers graduated. One teacher told the team that he believes children will be more motivated to go to school, another who has been in the camp for 3 years said he was hoping to restart the children’s choir, using the kit and resume the adult literacy program which had stopped due to lack of funding and infrastructure.

 A refugee representative gave a thank you speech to the INS team and said,

We aren’t doing this for us, we are doing it for our children, the next generation of our country and for peace”.