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Thursday, January 20, 2022

African women access university using smartphones

The world’s battle to provide education for all rages on and now technology companies are joining the fray, helping thousands of young women in underdeveloped countries achieve what had, until recently, been deemed almost impossible: the chance to attend university.

As part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, a plan has been set in motion to ensure that all children are receiving a quality education by 2030 in what has come to be known as Goal 4.

This agreement was only signed in 2015 and there is still much work to be done. There are currently an estimated 263M children and teens out of school and even more than that without access to quality or full time education.

Sub-Saharan Africa remains one of the worst areas affected, according to UNESCO – roughly 21% of primary aged children are not in school, with that percentage increasing to 34% of lower secondary and 58% of upper secondary aged children. The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) remains one of the worst countries affected and is particularly challenging for girls. Thanks to the political unrest, poverty and gender bias that wracks the country, just 36% of girls reach secondary education, dropping to a meagre 4% at university level. When compared to the 37.1% in the UK or the 56% in the US, the contrast becomes even more stark.

Finding ways to achieve Goal 4 will not be easy, especially when considering the barriers to learning faced by these countries – access to learning materials and the cost of providing them being the most pressing.

But several of the world’s largest technology companies have pledged to help make this goal a reality by providing innovative ways for the children in need to access quality education.

One such company is Vodafone, whose Instant Schools program provides an online platform of educational resources in DRC, Ghana, Lesotho, Tanzania, Mozambique and South Africa.

This platform is free for anyone with access to the Vodafone network, which does not charge for the content or data used but instead provides an online learning platform for those struggling to attend school. The material is available in several local languages to both students and teachers and contains both global and local content, allowing users to tailor the teaching to their specific needs.


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