By Funmilola Gboteku
Airtel has partnered the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) to connect over 300,000 students to digital learning in Nigeria.
The Managing Director of Airtel Nigeria, Mr Surendran Chemmenkotil, said this at the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to flag off the initiative in Lagos on Friday.
Chemmenkotil said that in the first year of the five-year partnership, Airtel and UNICEF would provide all the resources for digital learning to 620 schools.
He said that the partnership was under the Reimagine Education Initiative.
Chemmenkotil said they would also be providing reliable broadband connectivity and free access to a world class curriculum through the Nigeria Learning Passport (NLP).
Chemmenkotil said that the NLP, which was developed by the Federal Ministry of Education, UNICEF, and Microsoft, was an e-learning platform with online and offline capability that enables continuous access to quality education.
“Airtel’s support will benefit students with uninterrupted access to quality learning materials.
“We will also be providing free access for any Airtel subscriber to Youth Agency Market Place (YOMA), a UNICEF digital platform for skilling, upskilling and encouraging young people’s engagement.
“Currently, YOMA has 115,000 Users in Nigeria. This number is expected to grow with Airtel support, especially for young people living in hard-to-reach areas with no to low access to data or connectivity,” he said.
Chemmenkotil said that Airtel had committed 1.3 million dollar worth of complimentary data for the two platforms and data provision for learners in the first year alone.
He said that 20 schools in Lagos and Kano would be connected in December, while the connection of the remaining 600 schools would be concluded before the end of February 2023.
Chemmenkotil said: “Education, especially digital learning, forms a vital part of our sustainability agenda for Nigeria and we will stop at nothing to bridge the huge digital gap that currently exists in mostly rural primary schools across the country.”
He said that with the programme and partnership, they were providing both world class education and digital inclusion for thousands of underprivileged children.
“Our goal is to connect, empower and transform as many children and young people as possible.
“Education is power, and connectivity provides the leverage to become unstoppable,” the managing director said.
The UNICEFs Country Representative in Nigeria, Ms Cristian Munduate, said: “This is an important milestone and a step closer in reducing the digital divide in Nigeria.”
Munduate said that students and young people in Nigeria had faced several challenges during the COVID-19 epidemic.
She added that school closures due to insecurity had also hindered the learning of 50 million Nigerian students, noting that girls suffered more due to lack of accessibility to digital devices and literacy.
Munduate said that quality digital learning was the fastest route to improving learning and equipping children and young people with the 21st century skills needed to fulfil their potential and to live their dreams.
“We are delighted that Airtel Nigeria shares our vision and will help in driving the process to scale-up access to digital learning tor children and young people across these schools.
“Our partnership with Airtel goes beyond the borders of Nigeria, together we will be reaching millions of young people in 13 countries across Africa with digital access and solutions,” she said.(NAN)