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UNICEF Joins Forces with Nokia to Aid Digital Literacy in Kenyan Schools

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For anyone looking to do some volunteer teaching in Africa, the news of UNICEF Kenya’s partnership with Nokia will be an exciting one. The news was unveiled as part of Nairobi Innovation Week in which the initiative aims to increase fair access to digital literacy for some of Kenya’s most disadvantaged primary school children.                                                                                                     

The initiative from the charity and the tech giant will focus on helping girls and children with disabilities not just in the urban, informal settlements, but also a number of the most remote areas located in Kenya. 

Speaking about the partnership, UNICEF in Kenya’s representative Maniza Zaman said the UN agency is coming up with options in cooperation with the government as well as the private sector. This is thanks to the innovative partnerships that are empowering those most disadvantaged children who are soon to be offered quality education with the internet. 

In a statement issued in Nairobi, Maniza said: "We are proud to have contributed to the development of the first Accessible Digital Textbook with support from the UNICEF Innovation Fund and Nokia. This is a major step in furthering inclusive education through innovative technology for children in Kenya and beyond." 

The Accessible Digital Textbook set to be rolled out for use in schools will provide students with special features for those who suffer from visual, hearing and intellectual barriers to learning. It has previously been successful during trials in schools in the first quarter of 2019 and is set to be launched later this month (June). 

Building on Existing Progress

What’s great to hear about this development is that the partnership is building on Kenya's investment existing Digital Literacy Project which has already provided no fewer than one million tablets to primary schools, with a real focus on working to better the availability and use of quality digital content for young students. 

Furthermore, the alliance will bring together a range of people from all walks of life. These include; stakeholders from ICT and ministries of education, along with the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD), teachers, children, mobile network operators and content providers, all in an effort to address the challenges faced, but all with a shared goal of unlocking opportunities for learning and literacy in a digital capacity. 

KICD’s CEO, Julius Jwan said that the initiative has already successfully shaped the first accessible digital textbook for children in Grade 1. Jwan stated that it is helping to contribute to equitable access to digital literacy for students with financial and technical support delivered to them by UNICEF. 

Jwan added: "This textbook provides quality digital content for children with disabilities on the Digital Literacy Project devices. It also allows learners without disabilities to access features like Kenya Sign Language videos, thereby contributing to inclusive education. This project is scalable to cover the other learning areas." 

What Else Is to Come from The Partnership?

The partnership’s leaders have pledged to provide support to Kenya with the aim of digital learning materials to schools in urban informal settlements at the forefront of their focus. The support will extend to the urban informal settlements of Nairobi as well as the frontier counties of Turkana and Garissa by connecting them to the internet using Nokia’s latest connectivity tech. 

Nokia's head of Marketing and Communications, Middle East and Africa, Joachim Wuilmet, confirmed: "We are committed to using our technologies to meet the goals of sustainable development worldwide." 

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