Airtel Malawi Plc and UNICEF Malawi have announced a 5-Year School Connectivity Project in support of the Ministry of Education’s Connect-a-School Program.
The School Connectivity Project is in line with the Ministry’s pursuit of its priority interventions in digitalising education as outlined in the Malawi 2063 (MW2063) national development strategy and highlighted in the MW2063 First 10-year Implementation Plan (MIP1) under Human Capital Development Enabler 5.
The Ministry’s Connect-a-School Program aims to equip public schools with state-of-the-art technology that will enable students to access a range of advanced technological tools for the purpose of gaining and generating new knowledge and skills with which to transform their futures.
In support of this vision, Airtel Malawi and its partner UNICEF have equipped 9 selected schools with HD Smart TVs and tablets, backed by free internet connectivity for the duration of the project, to facilitate interactive and engaging multimedia experiences for learners.
The tablets have been loaded with approved subject matter content including the virtual science lab application (MiLab App) developed by Mzuzu University students for STEM subjects experimentation and simulations.
This technology, and the free internet connectivity provided to the schools, will foster personalized learning and allow access to a wealth of other educational apps and digital resources by both teachers and learners thus enhancing their 21st century educational experience.
For the first year of the Project, Airtel Malawi has channeled K117-million through UNICEF Malawi to procure 9 state of the art Smart TV’s, 180 tablets and 9 desktop computers for the 9 schools as recommended by the Ministry of Education. The first cohort of beneficiaries comprises Mangochi Secondary School in Mangochi, Linthipe Secondary School in Dedza, Chiwamba CDSS in Lilongwe, Nyungwe CDSS in Karonga, Kasakula CDSS in Ntchisi, Mzimba LEA in Mzimba, Chambe CDSS in Mulanje, Ligowe CDSS in Neno and Masenjere Primary School in Nsanje.
Another key aspect of the first year of Airtel’s School Connectivity Project is the zero rating of up to 5 online education sites, namely: https//notesmaster.com/; www.education.gov.mw; www.odl.poly.ac.mw; www.elearn.mzuni.ac.mw; and www.ecpd.education.gov.mw. These online education sites will have a dedicated Fair User Policy (FUP) limit of 100mb per user per day.
Charles Kamoto, Airtel Malawi Managing Director said Airtel Malawi and UNICEF School Connectivity Project is part of their commitment to support the Ministry of Education’s existing Connect-a-School Program and to empower the next generation with the tools they need to thrive in the digital age.
“Through our School Connectivity Project, we aim to support the Ministry’s efforts in creating an inclusive learning environment where every learner will have equal access to cutting-edge technology and the internet, enabling them to explore new horizons and unleash their full potential. Airtel Malawi appreciates the Ministry of Education’s continued commitment to deliver on its mandate to provide orientation and comprehensive training and support to teachers, through the EdTech Coalition, by equipping them with the necessary skills to integrate tech pedagogy and enhance students’ learning experiences. This includes ensuring online safety for learners and data protection using the existing legislation and guidelines,” said Kamoto.
Shadrack Omol, UNICEF Malawi Country Representative said digital literacy is part of the solution to improve learning for children.
Said Omol, “It strengthens children’s digital skills to complement a good foundation for lifelong learning. Digital literacy supports learning and helps to prepare children and adolescents for school, work, and life. We need more teachers and schools to be connected to the Internet so that digital learning can be part of a basic package of essential learning services for every child, including in rural areas.”
In her remarks, the Minister of Education, Madalitso Kambauwa Wirima, said education is vital to the economic growth of the country; hence, the ministry is relentless in pursuing the fulfilment of equitable access to quality and relevant education for all in Malawi.
“As detailed in the National Education Sector Investment Plan (20202030), this demands the application of science, technology, and innovation techniques in all areas of education service delivery, including school internet connectivity, availability of and access to technological equipment by teachers and learners, utilisation of innovative training methodologies and tools, and access to sustainable energy sources that support and enhance teaching and learning experiences in our schools. Airtel Malawi and UNICEF’s School Connectivity Project vitally supports the Ministry’s Connect-a-School Program in this regard,” she said.