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Malala Yousafzai, Vint Cerf, Muhtar Kent, Sir Martin Sorrell and Paul Polman to teach lessons by video call to young people in refugee camps

1 Oct 2015Vodafone Foundation news
5 minute read
  • Vodafone Foundation and UNHCR project begins this week with WPP CEO Sir Martin Sorrell, Unilever CEO Paul Polman, Huawei chairwoman Madam Sun Yafang and Jonah Capital Chairman Sir Samuel Jonah
  • Project is part of Vodafone Foundation’s wider Instant Network Schools programme, which provides tablet-based teaching in refugee camps in Africa
  • News follows launch of United Nations campaign this week to make internet access universal by 2020

Malala Yousafzai, student, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and Malala Fund co-founder, Unilever CEO Paul Polman and The Coca-Cola Company Chairman and CEO Muhtar Kent are among those who will give interactive lessons by video call to young people living in the Dadaab refugee settlement in northern Kenya, as part of an education initiative from the Vodafone Foundation and the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR).

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.

‘Leadership Lessons’, part of the Vodafone Foundation and UNHCR’s Instant Network Schools programme, will provide young people, aged between 13 and 27, with access to inspirational speakers and experts from different backgrounds, who will discuss their personal stories, share their knowledge and answer questions on their areas of expertise.

The programme will see Yousafzai share her life story and discuss the importance of education with girls living in the Dadaab refugee camp, while business leaders such as Sir Martin Sorrell, Muhtar Kent, Paul Polman and Chairman Executive Board and CEO of HEINEKEN N.V Jean-François van Boxmeer will each give 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 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.

Vodafone is bringing connectivity to large parts of Africa and the Vodafone Foundation seeks to mobilise schools which work in refugee camps within Vodafone’s markets, bringing critical educational resources to the people who need them most. In 2014, the Instant Network Schools programme introduced tablet-based teaching to around 18,000 pupils at schools in the Dadaab refugee settlement. Safaricom, Vodafone’s affiliate in Kenya, provides connectivity to enable both tablet-based learning and the Leadership Lessons in Dadaab.

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 12 schools in refugee settlements in Kenya, Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Over the next two years, the Vodafone Foundation Instant Network Schools programme will be extended to support additional schools in refugee camps in Kenya, Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, benefitting at least 62,000 children and young people by the end of 2016. There are currently 18 schools in refugee camps, including 13 in Dadaab, two in Kakuma in Kenya, two in Ajuong Thok in South Sudan and one in Goma in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Last weekend, senior business leaders and celebrities launched a United Nations campaign to make internet access universal by 2020. The 193 UN nations formally adopted a set of 17 Sustainable Development Goals to end poverty, combat inequality and climate change over the next 15 years. The connectivity campaign calls for governments, businesses and innovators to bring the internet to those four billion people who currently do not have access.

Vodafone Group Chief Executive Vittorio Colao said: “Leadership Lessons are about connecting young people living in some of the toughest environments – often with no access or exposure to life outside of the camps - with inspiring people from around the world. We want to give the students hope and provide inspiration and knowledge by using our technology and expertise to connect them with a variety of world leaders. I gave a Leadership Lesson to students living in Dadaab from my London office and was impressed by the students’ determination to learn and succeed.”

For further information:

Vodafone Group Media Relations:

Note to editors

Pictures of Vodafone Foundation Instant Classroom can be downloaded here:

A short film which shows the Instant Classroom equipment being set up can be viewed here;

About Vodafone

Vodafone is one of the world’s largest telecommunications companies and provides a range of services including voice, messaging, data and fixed communications. Vodafone has mobile operations in 26 countries, partners with mobile networks in 55 more, and fixed broadband operations in 17 markets. As of 30 June 2015, Vodafone had 449 million mobile customers and 12 million fixed broadband customers. For more information, please visit:

About Vodafone Foundation

The Vodafone Foundation's Mobile for Good programme combines Vodafone's charitable giving and technology to make a difference in the world. Globally, the Vodafone Foundation supports projects that are focused on delivering public benefit through the use of mobile technology across the areas of health, education and disaster relief. The Vodafone Foundation invests in the communities in which Vodafone operates and is at the centre of a network of global and local social investment programmes. The Vodafone Foundation is a UK registered charity, registered charity number 10989625.

About UNHCR and UNHCR Innovation

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees was established on December 14, 1950 by the United Nations General Assembly. The agency is mandated to lead and co-ordinate international action to protect refugees and resolve refugee problems worldwide. Its primary purpose is to safeguard the rights and well-being of refugees. It strives to ensure that everyone can exercise the right to seek asylum and find safe refuge in another State, with the option to return home voluntarily, integrate locally or to resettle in a third country. Providing access to quality education is a core component of UNHCR’s protection mandate.

UNHCR Innovation is a multi-departmental section established within UNHCR to work collaboratively with refugees, academia, and the private sector to creatively address challenges faced by uprooted or stateless people worldwide. UNHCR Innovation aims to empower staff to work together with refugee communities to design innovative solutions to the challenges they face. For more information, please visit:

  • Africa
  • Connectivity
  • Safaricom
  • Vodafone Foundation
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