3 October 2019 | 2 minutes
If you want to see what the digital divide looks like, look at the children.
There are children who seem to be born with an iPad in their hands, and there are those who will not have access to a computer until they reach a certain grade at school. Both groups will grow up in a digital world, and both groups have a great chance of thriving in the digital world if they are provided with the skills, tools and mentoring required to become great at anything.
By investing in the digital education of children in Africa and the Middle East, we are levelling the playing field and preparing our youth to become innovators in the digital world.
How is a student meant to excel in a digital world when they have limited or zero access to computers and connectivity?
This is why part of MTN’s CSI funds are used to equip educational institutions with the digital tools needed to advance the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal of advancing the quality of education (UN SDG 4).
In Benin, where access to textbooks is limited, the MTN Benin Foundation created 50 digital classes for 50 schools. Digital literacy training was provided to the facilitators managing the classes, along with a donation of 1000 laptops and the necessary connectivity. Now, more than 15 000 students and 100 teachers have access to the learning materials required for a good education.
E-libraries, online journals and other digital learning and research materials not only fill the gap where physical books are lacking, they also give learners the opportunity to make technology the foundation of their education. Other initiatives include the donation of a digital library to an orphanage in Afghanistan, where 200 children now have access to 3000 e-books. In Ghana, MTN donated an ICT centre for university students who required online research materials. The centre benefits 10 000 learners and the lecturers at the university. Over the years, we have established more than 925 computer labs and ICT facilities, because we believe that everyone deserves the benefits of a modern connected life.
MTN Ghana constructed a 24 unit classroom block which benefits 10 000 learners every year.
There is no point in introducing a school to computers when the school’s classrooms are dilapidated, so MTN first ensures that those without the basics get the help they need. Through a programme MTN established called Y’ello Schools, the MTN Cameroon Foundation has constructed 31 classrooms, and installed 16 potable water points, to improve the learning conditions of at least 16 400 students and 154 teachers. In Uganda, partnering with an initiative called Promoting Equality in African Schools, the Foundation has played a major role in constructing 10 schools.
By donating and installing smart boards in schools and computers in media centres, children in Africa get the chance to innovate just like those in developed countries. By working together, we are levelling the playing field, so that learners in Africa have the foundation required to innovate and bring real transformation to the continent.