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AIRTEL, UNICEF LAUNCHED FIVE-YEAR DIGITAL EDUCATION PROGRAM IN UGANDA

Students of St Mary Assumpta in Adjumani during the launch of the digital learning program

BY MARKO TAIBOT

ADJUMANI: TUESDAY, MARCH 21, 2023

Airtel Africa in partnership with UNICEF and the government of Uganda has launched a five-year multi-billion digital education project at St Mary’s Assumpta girls boarding secondary school in Adjumani district.

The program intends to connect 100 schools to the internet and enroll 54,000 learners in course of the project period.

So far 1,500 students have been enrolled 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 – three from West Nile, one in central Uganda and four from Karamoja in addition to two primary schools.

Chief commercial officer of Airtel Uganda, 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,” he explained.

Amit Kapur, the Aitel commercial officer trying the E-learning on a smart phone

Kapur said Airtel has built a 100% 4G network that covers the whole country and constructive 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 review of the 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.”

The UNICEF Technology for development manager, 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.

He added that this leaves children, particularly the 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,” Mutombo emphasized.

Immaculate Achien, a senior three student of Saint Mary’s Assumpta SS, said that though digital learning is not a new program in the school, the intervention of Airtel and UNICEF will accelerate digital learning which has personally benefited her since she is able to do more research on topics that 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 Achien said.

The launch according to the Adjumani Resident District Commissioner, Peter Taban Data, is in line with the National Development Plan (NDP)III and he hailed Airtel and UNICEF for the partnership which will enhance learning through sharing knowledge with learners in other parts of the world.

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

The Airtel-Unicef digital learning programs cover 13 countries across Africa including Uganda.

The launch according to the Adjumani Resident District Commissioner, Peter Taban Data, is in line with the National Development Plan (NDP)III and he hailed Airtel and UNICEF for the partnership which will enhance learning through sharing knowledge with learners in other parts of the world.

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

The Airtel-Unicef digital learning programs cover 13 countries across Africa including Uganda.

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