The Ministry of Education (MOE) in Zambia, in collaboration with UNICEF and Airtel, has sealed a strategic partnership with the aim of bolstering digital learning initiatives across the country.
The partnership, officially inked on January 31st, 2024, in Lusaka, brings together key stakeholders to navigate the challenges posed by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the recent cholera outbreak, which have disrupted the reopening of schools.
The signing ceremony, attended by Education Minister Hon. Douglas Syakalima, UNICEF Country Representative Dr. Penny Campbell, and Airtel Zambia Managing Director Hussam Baday, marked a pivotal moment in the collective effort to advance digital education in Zambia.
Hon. Syakalima stressed the importance of effective coordination between UNICEF and Airtel in executing the project. “Teamwork without coordination leads to confusion. The Ministry of Education wants to see effective coordination in the implementation of this partnership,” emphasized Hon. Syakalima.
Highlighting the timeliness of the UNICEF/Airtel partnership, the Minister pointed to lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic and the current cholera outbreak, both of which have underscored the significance of digital learning in maintaining educational continuity.
The government’s commitment to digital technology in education was reaffirmed by Hon. Syakalima, referencing President Hakainde Hichilema’s launch of internet connectivity to secondary schools in Zambia in August 2023.
However, acknowledging the existing barriers to digital learning in Zambia, the Minister welcomed the UNICEF/Airtel Public-Private Partnership, emphasizing its role in addressing challenges such as the cost of data.
UNICEF Country Representative Dr. Penny Campbell outlined the project’s transformative goals, aiming to enhance the lives of children through internet connectivity in the learning process.
The initiative, known as the learning passport, intends to facilitate digital learning for students and empower teachers through capacity-building.
Dr. Campbell underscored the collaboration’s strength, with UNICEF contributing expertise in children’s rights, Airtel providing technological know-how, and the Ministry of Education offering leadership.
The primary objective of the partnership is to increase school connectivity and foster digital learning opportunities for students across Zambia.
Airtel Zambia Managing Director, Hussam Baday, expressed the company’s commitment to playing a vital role in expanding digital learning in Zambian schools.
Through this partnership with UNICEF, Airtel aims to contribute significantly to keeping children in school by providing access to digital learning resources.