from MARIA MACHARIA in Nairobi, Kenya
NAIROBI – ABOUT 90 schools in rural and disadvantaged urban settlements have been connected to the internet as stakeholders close the digital divide in Kenya.
The ultimate goal is to support the Kenyan government’s plans to scale broadband connection to all schools by 2030.
Nokia, Safaricom, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the Kenyan Ministries of Education and Information and Communications Technology have partnered to connect the schools.
These places of learning serve as an estimated 32 670 students.
Schools are using Nokia’s FastMile 4G Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) broadband solution to provide reliable, high-speed connectivity delivered over Safaricom’s 4G/LTE network.
Nokia’s meshed WiFi Beacon technology is used to boost the Internet signal in selected classrooms and computer labs.
Amr El Leithy, Senior Vice President, Middle East and Africa Market, Nokia, said with remote learning becoming the prevailing issue during the COVID-19 pandemic, the topic of digital equity took centre stage again.
This collaboration will thus facilitate access to many students currently unconnected.
“This is an initiative we are very proud to be a part of and hope that it is a significant step to a brighter future for all those reaping its benefits,” El Leithy said.
The importance of good connectivity has been highlighted during the pandemic.
School closures in Kenya in 2020 meant that children had to stay at home for up to nine months, leaving them reliant on remote learning.
Students with access the internet were better placed to continue with their learning.
Peter Ndegwa, Chief Executive Officer of Safaricom, said the shared value partnership with UNICEF and Nokia allows them to connect schools in underprivileged areas and increase access to digital literacy.
“This will ensure that the students there are not left behind when it comes to reaping the benefits of an ever-increasing digital society,” Ndegwa explained.
UNICEF believes children have a right to access quality education but the digital divide has prevented disadvantaged youngsters from enjoying the same benefits as their connected peers.
“By connecting schools to the internet – with a focus on the most disadvantaged areas – we can start to level the playing field,” said UNICEF Kenya representative, Maniza Zaman.
– CAJ News