Vodafone Foundation, UNHCR expand Connected Education programme

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Ahead of World Refugee Day (June 20), Vodafone Foundation and UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, have expanded their Instant Network Schools (INS) programme – which supports over 94,000 refugee students and communities in four African countries – into Mozambique.

Two new INS, in the Maratane Refugee Settlement and the city of Nampula, will benefit nearly 9,000 students in the 7th-12th grades, 25,000 family members and over 200 teachers.

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INS transforms existing classrooms into multimedia hubs for learning, complete with internet connectivity, sustainable solar power and a robust teacher training programme. The content is localised and aligned to national curriculums, which supports disadvantaged learners to study core subjects in the classroom, and crucially, increases access to opportunities for both study and future work opportunities.

The Maratane Refugee Settlement is located in Nampula Province and hosts one third of Mozambique’s 28,000 refugees. As of March 2021, more than 50% of the refugee primary school-aged children in the settlement were outside the primary education system, and more than 60% outside the secondary education system. UNHCR supports a primary and a secondary school run by the Ministry of Education in Maratane Refugee Settlement for both refugee and host community children to promote social cohesion and peaceful coexistence. Vodafone Foundation and UNHCR have also established an INS in a public school in the provincial capital city, Nampula – 35km from the camp. It is the first time that the programme will be situated within an urban public school environment, maximising benefits to refugee and young learners.

Andrew Dunnett, Director SDGs, Sustainable Business and Foundations, Vodafone Group, said: “Prior to 2020, refugee children were twice as likely to be out of school as a non-refugee child. COVID-19’s onslaught of school closures, health needs, and loss of family livelihoods has exacerbated the risks of refugee children – and secondary school-age refugee girls in particular – not returning to school. Refugee students in Mozambique – where Maratane used to be called the forgotten camp – have faced particularly dire conditions and consequences to their continued safety, wellbeing, and learning.”

Samuel Chakwera, UNHCR’s representative in Mozambique, said: “Fostering quality learning in refugee settlements and camps remains a constant challenge as most of the time educational resources are not available in those settings. Through the Instant Network Schools programme in secondary schools in Maratane and Nampula, an innovation hub will be created in the classroom, bringing together education, innovation and protection. I am incredibly proud to see the programme expand into Mozambique where I hope it will have the same success that we’ve experienced in other countries.”

At the heart of an INS is a ‘school in a box’ that includes tablets for students, a laptop for the teacher, a projector, speaker, internet connectivity, solar charging and a library of digital educational resources. The programme was established by Vodafone Foundation and UNHCR in 2013 to give young refugees, host community members and their teachers access to digital devices, resources and tools, including the internet which assist in improving the quality of education in some of the most marginalised communities in Africa.

The launch in Mozambique brings the total number of INS centres to 38, with schools already rolled out across the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Tanzania and South Sudan. Vodafone Foundation and UNHCR are committed to expand the programme to benefit 500,000 young refugees and their communities by 2025.

An evaluation of existing INS programmes showed a significant positive impact including an increase in ICT literacy of 61% for students and 125% for teachers, and improved confidence, motivation and academic performance by students.

Longevity, self-sufficiency and scalability are central to the success of the INS programme. Post-launch, Vodafone Foundation and UNHCR will work closely with the Mozambique Ministry of Education to ensure the long-term sustainability of the programme to 2025, and beyond.


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