At the end of 2022, at least 89.3 million people around the world had been forced to flee their homes due to war, conflict, violence, persecution, natural disasters, and climate change. 40% of those are estimated to be children. Often separated from their families, many will spend their entire childhoods away from home at risk of further harm.
Schools can provide a safe haven. A place where young people can build a community and focus on other things. Schools also play an important role in identifying children who are at risk of abuse, violence, or military recruitment, and can help connect them to the appropriate services. Through education, children can get the knowledge and skills they need for life.
Sadly, the schools hosting refugees often lack basic infrastructure, are overcrowded and lack teachers or teacher training. Students may also be dealing with trauma from being uprooted and there are language barriers.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) estimates that refugees miss out on three to four years of schooling because of forced displacement.
Working with the UNHCR we’re using technology to give young refugees access to a quality education in Africa.
In 2013, Vodafone Foundation set up Instant Network Schools. The programme gives young refugees, host communities and their teachers access to the internet and digital learning content, improving the quality of education in some of the most marginalised communities in Africa.
The programme provides a holistic end-to-end solution including power (the majority using solar energy), connectivity, Instant Classroom (a digital ‘school in a box’), digital educational content aligned to the national curriculum, teacher training, a coach to support teachers in delivering interactive lessons and technical support from a dedicated team of 100+ Vodafone employee volunteers.
In a recent survey, 94% of students said INS had improved their digital skills and 93% indicated their exam results had improved. While 95% of teachers said their digital skills, lesson preparation and delivery had improved since INS was introduced in their school.
There are now 92 Instant Network Schools operating across six countries: Kenya, Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan, Mozambique and Egypt.
The programme has benefited over 224,700 students and 4,263 teachers to date.
Working in partnership with UNHCR, we want to connect 500,000 refugee students and their communities to a quality digital education by 2026 and bring benefits to a further 1 million people including as parents, family and wider community members.