The Managing Director of Airtel Nigeria, Surendran Chemmenkotil announced on Friday in Lagos that Airtel and UNICEF are working together to connect over 300,000 kids to digital learning in Nigeria at the signing of the official launch document.
According to Chemmenkotil, the first year of the five-year cooperation would see Airtel and UNICEF giving all of the digital learning resources to 620 schools.
The relationship, according to him, fell under the Reimagine Education Initiative.
Through the Nigeria Learning Passport, according to Chemmenkotil, they will also be offering dependable broadband connectivity and free access to a top-notch curriculum (NLP).
Chemmenkotil said that the NLP, an e-learning platform with online and offline functionality that offers ongoing access to high-quality education, was created by the Federal Ministry of Education, UNICEF, and Microsoft.
“Airtel’s support will benefit students with uninterrupted access to quality learning materials.
“We will also be providing free access for any Airtel subscriber to Youth Agency Market Place (YOMA), a UNICEF digital platform for skilling, upskilling and encouraging young people’s engagement.
“Currently, YOMA has 115,000 Users in Nigeria. This number is expected to grow with Airtel support, especially for young people living in hard-to-reach areas with no to low access to data or connectivity, “he said.
Chemmenkotil said in the first year alone, Airtel committed $1.3 million in complementary data for the two platforms and data provision for students.
He disclosed that 20 schools in Lagos and 20 in Kano would be connected in December, and the 600 further schools will be connected by the end of February 2023.
"We will stop at nothing to bridge the enormous digital gap that currently exists in the majority of rural primary schools across the country, and education, especially digital learning, forms a vital part of our sustainability agenda for Nigeria."
He said that through the partnership and program, they were able to offer thousands of underprivileged children both a world-class education and digital inclusion.
“Our goal is to connect, empower and transform as many children and young people as possible.
“Education is power, and connectivity provides the leverage to become unstoppable, ” the managing director said.
"This is an important milestone and a step closer to narrowing the digital divide in Nigeria," said Cristian Munduate, UNICEF's Country Representative in Nigeria.
Munduate said the COVID-19 epidemic in Nigeria presented a number of issues for students and young people.
50 million Nigerian children's learning was also hampered by school closings due to insecurity, she continued, stressing that girls suffered more as a result of their limited access to digital devices and literacy.
She said providing children and young people with high-quality digital learning is the quickest way to enhance their academic performance and provide them with the 21st-century skills they need to realise their potential and pursue their aspirations.
“We are delighted that Airtel Nigeria shares our vision and will help in driving the process to scale-up access to digital learning for children and young people across these schools.”
“Our partnership with Airtel goes beyond the borders of Nigeria, together we will be reaching millions of young people in 13 countries across Africa with digital access and solutions, “she said.