The Vodafone Foundation today announced at the Mobile World Congress the Instant Classroom, a digital ‘school in a box’ that can be set up in a matter of minutes, helping give children and young adults in some of the world’s largest and poorly resourced refugee camps the opportunity to continue their education.
The Vodafone Foundation Instant Classroom has been specifically designed for areas where electricity and internet connectivity are unreliable or non-existent and will be deployed in partnership with UNHCR’s Innovation and Education units.
The Instant Classroom is shipped in a secure and robust 52kg case which is equipped with a laptop, 25 tablets pre-loaded with educational software, a projector, a speaker and a hotspot modem with 3G connectivity. The tablets can connect to the laptop locally, enabling teachers to deliver content and applications to students without the need to access the internet.
All the components of the Vodafone Foundation Instant Classroom can be charged simultaneously from a single power source while the case is locked. After 6-8 hours of charging time, the Instant Classroom can be used for a full day in a classroom without access to electricity.
Over the next year, the Vodafone Foundation Instant Classroom will be deployed to 12 schools in refugee settlements in Kakuma in Kenya, in the Nyarungusu refugee settlement in Tanzania and in the Equatorial Region in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Instant Classroom will provide up to 15,000 children and young adults aged from 7 to 20 with advanced teaching aids that are currently only available in a minority of schools in developed nations.
The Instant Classroom builds on the Vodafone Foundation’s experience with tablet-based learning programmes. In 2014, the Vodafone Foundation worked with UNHCR’s Education and Innovation units to develop the Instant Network Schools programme, which introduced tablet-based learning to around 18,000 pupils in the Dadaab refugee settlement in northern Kenya. Teachers at the Dadaab schools said the tablet-based lessons have been so popular that pupil attendance had increased by an average of 15 per cent.
Over the next two years, the Vodafone Foundation Instant Network Schools programme will be extended to support additional schools in refugee camps in Kenya, Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of Congo with the aim to reach more than 40,000 children and young people.Vodafone Foundation Director Andrew Dunnett said: “At the end of 2013, UNHCR estimates that there were 50 million refugees and displaced people worldwide, half of who are under the age of 18. With refugees displaced from their homes for an average of 17 years, many have little or no access to education. The Vodafone Foundation Instant Classroom is robust, simple and powerful. It puts the best technology that educators have to offer into the hands of children and young people living in the toughest of environments.”
In the Middle East there are an estimated 14,875,355 refugees and displaced persons. Of these figures, 2.8 million are Syrian children who are no longer in school.
UNHCR Innovation Lead Olivier Delarue said: “In the face of increasingly complex humanitarian crises, UNHCR is tasked with finding new, creative ways to meet the developmental and educational needs of young refugees and stateless people worldwide. We welcome the opportunity to work with the Vodafone Foundation to find innovations that work in the refugee context. Innovation for us is not about developing educational products; rather it is about using technologies that partners like Vodafone Foundation have to offer as a new way of identifying and testing solutions to enhance educational opportunities.”
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