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mPower: Enabling refugee children in Kenya to learn

By Sara Okuoro | November 19th 2019

To mark the 30th anniversary of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) today, the GSMA, building on UNICEF’s child rights expertise, has launched the mPower Youth initiative to showcase how mobile technology can be a catalyst for advancing the rights of children.

The initiative is supported by a number of mobile operators globally, including Vodafone which is helping children in refugee camps across Africa access education.

More than half of the world’s 25.9 million refugees are children and many are born and raised in refugee camps.

The Vodafone Foundation has set up Instant Network Schools (INS] – a digital ‘classroom in a box’, recognising that the refugees have limited access to quality education.

INS provides power and internet connectivity to classrooms in refugee camps as well as tablets, a projector, a speaker and online educational content.

There are currently 36 Instant Network Schools in eight refugee camps including in Kenya, Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of Congo, benefitting 86,000+ refugee students and 1,000 teachers. 70 trained Vodafone employees are on standby to set up the schools and work with the UNHCR to provide teacher training.

“Mobile operators around the world, including Vodafone, are showing that mobile technology has tremendous power to enable the fundamental rights of a child,” said Mats Granryd, Director General, GSMA. “Thirty years ago when the convention was first adopted, there were 7 million mobile users globally, today there are 5.2 billion. The mobile industry continues to build on its commitment to protection and internet safety, and we have a significant role to play in ensuring that every child has a voice, and can participate and thrive in their communities.”

“In today’s world, children are born into situations we could not have imagined thirty years ago,” said Wivina Belmonte, Principal Advisor, Private Sector Engagement, UNICEF. “The Convention on the Rights of the Child is as relevant in this world as it was three decades ago. We need to ensure that children are safe when exploring new technology. And we must see that the freedoms and opportunities technology can deliver are available to every child. UNICEF calls on the mobile industry to demonstrate how technology can be used to reduce inequality and unleash the potential of all girls and boys.”

Vodafone is a member of the worldwide mobile phone industry body, the GSMA. Instant Network Schools is one example of a wide range of industry-supported initiatives that encourage the protection of children’s rights globally.

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