Instant Network Schools enable young refugees and teachers to access digital educational content and the internet, improving the quality of education in some of the most marginalised communities where Vodafone operates
Over 50% of the world’s 65.3 million displaced people are children. The average length of time someone is displaced is 20 years, meaning a child can be born, raised and do his or her entire schooling in the closed environment of refugee camp with limited access to a quality education and the outside world.
Instant Network Schools aim to provide access to technology, the internet and educational content to enhance the quality of education available for students living in refugee camps in countries where Vodafone operates.
The Instant Network Schools programme connects classrooms to the internet providing connectivity, power, tablet computers, mobile content and teacher training which provides previously remote and isolated communities with access to a wealth of educational content and resources. The Vodafone Foundation believes that this link to the outside world can be a “game changer” for education programmes in refugee camps and will be critical for the long-term future of those children and their communities.
Case studies from our Instant Network Schools
Mole & Bobyabu (Equateur Province)
Three Instant Network Schools were set up in September 2016 to serve 50,000 refugees.
“The Instant Network Team deployed 3 new Instant Network schools in Mole and Boyabu refugee camps in remote Equateur Province at the beginning of September; with Vodacom Congo and UNHCR. The camps host more than 50,000 refugees who fled civil war in neighbouring Central African Republic.
When then Instant Network Team arrived many had never used the internet. After four days of training the teachers gave their first digital lesson; teaching the alphabet. Using the Instant Classroom they are projecting the alphabet on to the screen, streaming the ABC song from YouTube (singing along) and using the tablets to practice writing.
After 5 days of training all of the new Instant Network Schools teachers graduated. The representative of the refugees said in his thank you speech to the team: “we aren’t doing this for us, we are doing it for our children, the next generation of our country and for peace”.
One teacher told the team that he believes children will be more motivated to go to school, another who has been in the camp for 3 years said he was hoping to restart the children’s choir using the kit and resume the adult literacy program which had stopped due to lack of funding and infrastructure”
- Oisin, Instant Network Manager.
Three Instant Network Schools were set up in March 2016 to serve 143,000 refugees.
The camp, close to the Burundi border, was set up in 1997 by UNHCR and is one of the largest refugee camps globally. The camp was set up to support the influx of Congolese refugees escaping civil war. Original designed to host 64,000 refugees it has swelled over recent year to 143,000 with almost 80,000 arriving since last April 2016.
'In spite of never having used a touch screen before, the teachers were able, after just two days of training, to build a basic lesson using the Instant Network School kit.
As the teachers proudly share their first lesson on the fauna and economic activities of Lake Tanganyika, the boy next to me becomes quiet. Around 15 years old, Jean escaped the violence in DRC and has lived most of his life in Nyarugusu Camp.
"Are you ok, I ask? Can I help you with what’s going on?"
Jean looks at the excited teachers showing – for the first time in any classroom in Nyarugusu – recent pictures, videos, maps and news items to illustrate their lesson. He replies: They showed the fish from the Lake.
My mother used to cook those fish for me, and my father would bring them from the Lake. We lived so close to Lake Tanganyika then. I haven’t seen those fish since my mother cooked them for me. And I haven’t seen my mother since she was killed in the conflict and I had to flee here.
Jean sits, quietly watching the bustle of the teachers who are laughing and showing the students each new picture they find. Whilst the Instant Network Schools focuses on improving the quality of education, this experience reminds me how isolated refugees, who can be so far away from both the homes they have left and the host communities they are living near, can understand their place in the world. And feel connected: for good’
- Extract from one of the volunteers who helped set up the Instant Network School in the camp.
One Instant Network School and one Community Centre were set up in June 2015.
“My name is Jacob, I am 21 years old. I have been in Kakuma for 21 years; I was born in the camp and grew up in the camp... I [still] live in the camp”.
Jacob’s family came to Kakuma refugee camp in 1995 due to war in South Sudan. During the journey from South Sudan to Kakuma, Northern Kenya, his father was injured by a landmine, and survives with an amputated leg. Jacob, his younger 6 siblings and his parents are among 190,000 people that live in Kenyas second largest refugee camp.
When his family voluntarily repatriated to South Sudan in 2008, Jacob stayed in Kakuma to complete his studies. In 2013, insecurity and political instability forced Jacob’s family back to the camp.
Jacob is currently a teacher at one of the Vodafone Foundation’s Instant Network Schools (INS).
In Jacob’s classes students learn on tablets, connected to the internet and he uses online educational resources to support his lessons. Before he was trained for INS, Jacob had never used the internet or a computer. Now, he says he has ‘experienced a lot’, has ‘improved his teaching’ and the students are ‘more interested in learning’- Teacher in Kakuma.
Instant Network volunteers
There are 70 trained Vodafone employees who make up the Instant Network team. These volunteers remain on standby ready to deploy to set up the schools, and manage on-site introduction teacher training alongside UNHCR.
The trainings are designed around human-centered design principles and aim at building ownership of the Instant Network School programme within the local community and make sure that the technology, and solution, responds to the local needs.
All volunteers who deploy to the field complete Hostile Environment Awareness Training (HEAT).
Hands On Art Workshops
Since 2015, artist Lisa Milroy has used Instant Network Schools technology to offer Hands On Art Workshops, a visual art programme to primary and secondary school students in Kakuma Refugee Camp, Kenya. Lisa uses digital video conferencing technology to deliver the workshops live from London, and also travels to Kakuma Refugee Camp annually to deliver the workshops in person in partnership with the UNHCR sub office, Kakuma. The workshops stem from Lisa’s artistic practice and provide opportunities for students to develop their creative skills. Lisa has also established the Hands On Scholarship fund through her programme to support secondary school education for Hands On students. Hands On Art Workshops are supported by Vodafone Foundation, UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, Colart, Slade School of Fine Art, UCL and Windle International Kenya.