Vodafone Foundation and UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, have moved to help educate refugees through the Intant Network Schools (INS) digital platform, with both foundations highlighting the importance of educating refugees and the need to increase development investment in this area.
This happened during the Connected Education event, held on 28th November. It featured a host of high-profile speakers, including Vodafone Group CEO, Margherita Della Valle, Assistant High Commissioner for Operations at UNHCR, Raouf Mazou, Deputy Secretary General of the ITU, Tomas Lamanauskas, and UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador, poet, and activist, Emi Mahmoud,
The speakers noted that the population of forcibly displaced people in the world has doubled in the last decade, including the largest ever year-on-year increase between 2021-2022. They also stressed that education is critically underfunded in countries hosting refugees, and that UNHCR has appealed for funding in this area as part of its 2024 global appeal.
The event also showcased the success stories of the INS platform, which was first set up by Vodafone Foundation and UNHCR in 2013. There are now 93 INS platforms in six countries namely, Kenya, Tanzania, DR Congo, South Sudan, Sudan, and Mozambique. The INS provide access to quality education for over 100,000 refugee and host community children, using solar-powered classrooms equipped with tablets, laptops, projectors, and internet connectivity.
An INS alumnus, Nhial Deng, who won the 2023 Chegg.org Global Student Prize, shared his inspiring journey from a refugee camp in Kenya to a university in Canada. Deng said that the INS gave him the opportunity to learn and pursue his dreams, and that he hopes to use his prize money to support other refugee students.
Vodafone Foundation has also partnered Akelius Languages, a leading provider of online language courses. The partnership will enable INS students to access free online courses in English, French, Arabic, and Swahili, to enhance their language skills and employability.
Speaking on the INS platform’s achievements, Vodafone’s CEO said the company was proud of its work and hoped for a future where everyone has access to education. Ms Valle added that Vodafone is committed to supporting the Bottom-up Economic Transformation Agenda, which aims to empower the most vulnerable and marginalized people in the world.
Raouf Mazou, Assistant High Commissioner for Operations at UNHCR, said that everyone, refugees included, had a right to education, and that it is essential to invest in this area to ensure the long-term development and stability of the countries hosting them. He thanked Vodafone Foundation for its partnership and support, and urged other stakeholders to join the efforts to provide quality education for refugees and host communities.