The Vodafone Foundation has announced an initiative called Instant Classroom, a digital school in a box. The concept, which can be set up in 20 minutes, was unveiled at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.
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The purpose of the initiative, Vodafone says, is to help give children and young adults in poorly resourced refugee camps the opportunity to continue their education. The company says this year alone Instant Classroom will provide up to 15 000 children and young adults aged from seven to 20 with advanced teaching aids that are currently only available in a minority of schools in developed nations.
Instant Classroom brings tablet based teaching to refugee camps. The project will be implemented with UN High Commissioner for Refugees to 12 schools in refugee settlements in Kakuma in Kenya, in the Nyarungusu refugee settlement in Tanzania and in the Equatorial Region in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
This is an important as refugees often leave under inhabitable conditions, in which sustenance is far more important than education. According to a 2006 World Refugee survey done by the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI), Africa has 3.2 million refugees and Internally Displaced Persons, the second largest number after the Middle East which has 4.2 million.
The conditions at refugee camps are not conducive to a normal leaving, often everything is in short supply, or not in supply at all. It is for this reason that the Instant Classroom has been specifically designed to work in areas without electricity and internet connectivity and deployed in partnership with UNHCR’s Innovation and Education units.
All the components that make up the Vodafone Foundation Instant Classroom can be charged at the same time from a single power source while the case is locked. A charging time of six to eight hours allows for a full day in a classroom without access to electricity. This means every night the components have to be judged and in a place where there is no electricity, it is will be challenging charging these every night and getting them back to the refugee center by morning for a full day use.
The Instant Classroom is a secure and robust 52kg case which is equipped with a laptop, 25 tablets pre-loaded with educational software, a projector, a speaker and a hotspot modem with 3G connectivity. To allow teachers to load the educational material and applications onto the tablets for students to use, the tablets connects with laptops.
In two years, Vodafone Foundation hopes the programme reaches other schools in refugee camps in Kenya, Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of Congo with the aim to reach more than 40,000 children and young people.