March 20, 2015 – A digital, tablet-based school contained in a portable box will be available this year for 15,000 children and adolescents in the world’s largest and poorest refugee camps across Africa where electricity is compromised or non-existent.
The Instant Classroom, developed by Vodafone Foundation, can be set up in twenty minutes and comes equipped with a laptop, 25 tablets pre-loaded with educational software, a projector, a speaker and one hotspot modem with 3G connectivity.
The tablets are connected to the laptop locally, allowing teachers to deliver content and study applications to students without the use of internet. The Instant Classroom is charged from a single power source while the case is locked. After 6 to 8 hours of charging time, the Instant Classroom can be used for a full day of classes.
In 2014, the Vodafone Foundation worked with United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) ‘Education and Innovation’ units developing the Instant Network Schools programme introducing tablet-based learning to around 18,000 pupils in the Dadaab refugee settlement in northern Kenya. The tablet-based lessons were so popular student attendance increased by 15%.
“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,” said Andrew Dunnett, Director of Vodafone Foundation.
Vodafone Foundation intends to reach more than 40,000 children and adolescents in refugee camps in Kenya, Tanzania, and the Democratic Republic of Congo over the next two years.
“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,” said Olivier Delarue, Innovation Lead for UNHCR.
“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,” added Delarue.
The UNHCR estimates there were 50 million refugees and displaced people worldwide in 2013 - half under the age of 18. Refugees are generally displaced from their homes for an average of 17 years with little or no access to education.
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
Since 1996, UNHCR has partnered with leading NGOs such as ‘Right to Play’, the ‘International Olympic Committee’, and the ‘Fédération Internationale de Volleyball’ that reach out to millions of refugee children in camps and settlements in Africa and Asia.
Organizing regular, structured recreational activities such as team sports is an important step in rebuilding a deprived and disadvantaged society. The IOC has supported refugees in Sudan and Uganda with balls, nets and team uniforms. These positive influences can boost the healing process for young refugees.