This year’s UN International Day of Education is themed ‘Changing Course, Transforming Education’, which reiterates the importance of education and collectively building a progressive, sustainable space of learning.

 Access to the internet and technology has the power to change lives and bridge inequalities. Over the past two years, the socio-economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has seen several lockdowns and has brought to the fore the heightened importance of connecting the unconnected. The COVID-19 pandemic saw the closures of learning spaces and schools, bringing the inequalities of the physical world to light. It highlighted the need to enable education by driving investments towards access to online educational platforms and learning tools.

As the world stands at a turning point, there’s an opportunity to make technology the foundation for sustainable learning solutions.

During the first year of the pandemic, by understanding the challenges that millions of learners now faced of not being able to attend school or access information, a number of MTN markets across the continent zero-rated websites to play their part in minimising the disruptions that COVID-19 lockdowns caused for learners. By partnering with governments and educational institutions MTN enabled the zero-rating of over 1500 educational websites resulting in more than 108.6TB of traffic through these sites.

Taking lessons from the pandemic, as a continent or even the world, remote learning and virtual engagements has become the norm of our everyday life. Adapting to this reality and mindful of the uncertainties of the future, MTN continues to focus on its intent to lead digital solutions for Africa’s progress. We understand that in harnessing technological change, we will realise the UN SDG goals to ensure that all learners acquire the knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainable development.

Across the continent, in support of transformation in learning,  many of MTN’s markets developed viable solutions to addressing the access gaps, in attaining and accessing educational material. As an example, MTN South Africa launched online school in 2021. This platform developed in partnership with the South African Department of Education and the National Education Collaboration Trust, is loaded with learning resources and lessons, as well as additional tools for learners. By actively seeking solutions, working with partners, and leveraging our key competencies as a digital operator, MTN is able to offer adaptable solutions to meet the changing learning needs of our communities.

The landscape of education and skills development are rapidly transforming and being accelerated by the continued COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic has in many respects changed the world as we know it, but it too has given us the opportunity to understand the power of digital transformation and inclusion. Children and youth in villages or remote areas no longer need to be excluded from accessing world class digital material and virtual learning opportunities. Accessible, digital education means that anywhere, anytime learning can be made available for all.