"With technology and internet we can see mountains and valleys and the ocean which we have never seen"
-Student from Dadaab refugee camp
“All girls are entitled to an opinion, your voice matters in society,” Malala Yousafzai, student, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and Malala Fund co-founder, today told girls living in the Dadaab refugee camp as she joined a lesson by video call as part of the Vodafone Foundation’s Leadership Lessons programme.
Speaking by video call from the Library of Birmingham in the UK, Malala shared her experiences and discussed the importance of education with the class. “You must spread the message of education and courage for girls. You have no limit. You can do it,” she told the girls in Dadaab, telling them to “have big dreams…there’s no job in the world that's limited to men only.”
The students, of both secondary and primary level, shared with Malala their aspirations to become magistrates, lawyers and doctors. Like Malala, they also wanted to become campaigners for girls’ education.
'Leadership Lessons', part of the Vodafone Foundation and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugee’s (UNHCR) Instant Network Schools programme, provides young people living in refugee camps, aged between 13 and 27, with access to inspirational speakers and experts from different backgrounds, who discuss their personal stories, share their knowledge and answer questions on their areas of expertise.
Malala said she was inspired to learn the impact that technology has had on the lives of the students in Dadaab, with one girl telling her that the internet has enabled her to see “mountains, valleys and the ocean” for the first time.
“If you are living in a refugee camp and are limited to that area…technology helps you discover more, and know more,” said Malala. “The world is so limited if you don’t have access to technology. Technology allows you to see the world and what is out there.”
The average amount of time a young refugee is displaced from his or her home is 17 years, according to UNHCR. Many young people are born and raised in the closed environment of camp with minimal contact with the outside world, and little or no access to quality education. For a lot of girls living in Dadaab, there are also considerable social and cultural barriers to education, and many do not make the transition from primary to secondary education.
The Leadership Lessons initiative is part of the Vodafone Foundation Instant Network Schools programme which, working alongside UNHCR's Education and Innovation units, provides tablet-based teaching in schools in refugee camps. Business leaders such as WPP Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Sir Martin Sorrell, The Coca-Cola Company Chairman and CEO Muhtar Kent and Unilever CEO Paul Polman have recently given interactive tutorials to students, including those studying business studies. Other experts who will give lessons include artist, Lisa Milroy and American internet pioneer, Vint Cerf.
The Vodafone Foundation seeks to mobilise schools which work in refugee camps within Vodafone's African markets, bringing critical educational resources to the people who need them most. The Vodafone Foundation Instant Network Schools programme will benefit at least 62,000 children and young people by the end of 2016. The Vodafone Foundation has a target to champion the education of refugee girls, targeting a potential 3 million young people in refugee camps across Vodafone’s markets by 2020, as part of its commitment to the UN Women HeforShe programme.
To help deliver this ambitious programme, in March 2015 the Vodafone Foundation announced the creation of the Instant Classroom 'digital school in a box', a portable case containing equipment to enable tablet-based teaching in schools where electricity and internet connectivity are unreliable or non-existent. This is being deployed in partnership with UNHCR's Innovation and Education units to schools in refugee settlements in Kenya, Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Vodafone Foundation Director Andrew Dunnett said: “The Instant Network Schools programme is providing young people living in the some of the toughest environments, often with no access or exposure to life outside of the camps, with educational resources and access to inspiring people, such as Malala Yousafzai, who encourage them to continue their education and have career aspirations”.
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