Posted: September 19, 2013 in Politics/Current issues

Christian Turner, British High Commissioner with a pupil of Kilimani Primary School during the launch of a digital hub

Over a half a million teachers and learners in countries in sub-Saharan Africa are set to experience a step change in access to digital educational resources in their schools.  The British council, Microsoft and Airtel have joined forces to maximize the learning benefits of Airtel’s wide broadband connectivity of 5GB per month.  The three year deal will see 127 Digital Hubs located in schools across nine countries in Sub-Saharan Africa benefit from this noble initiative.

Speaking during the launch of one of the digital hubs in Kilimani Primary School in Nairobi County, British Council Country representative to Kenya Tony Reilly said the British council connects teachers and learners around the world. This connection helps the students and teachers learn from each other, access knowledge and ultimately become global citizens.

He said this partnership with Airtel is a demonstration of their commitment to improving access to high-quality teaching and learning in Africa.

‘’The latest partnership initiative with Airtel demonstrates our commitment to improving access to high-quality teaching and learning in Africa. The British council connects teachers and learners through the world, so that they can learn from each other ’’ he said

Tony Reilly said through this schools program and ICC integration across Sub-Saharan Africa, they provide teachers with high-quality, cost-effective Professional Development opportunities.  Over the past year, British Council and Microsoft have trained 2,000 teachers and head teachers in innovative pedagogy and ICT skills in partnership with the Kenyan Ministry of Education.

‘’Our digital ambassadors are now implementing ICT and innovative teaching practice in classrooms across the continent Kenya continues to lead the way in sub-saharan Africa in providing access to digital learning opportunities to their students’’ He stated.

The partnership with Airtel will provide full internet accessibility to British Council Hubs, surrounding schools and communities. Already, through a partnership with Microsoft, Digital Hubs have been set up in 9 countries in Africa. The countries are Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Zamia, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Malawi, Ghana and Nigeria. High speed broadband access from Airtel for these hubs guarantees teachers and students limitless new educational opportunities. The Hubs in these schools server as ICT centers for teachers, students and wider surrounding communities

Over the last three years, thousands of schools across Sub-Saharan Africa have benefited from the British Council’s work supporting educators to improve their teaching and learning process through ICT. British Council supports ICT initiatives in African schools that are sustainable and teacher-centered.

Gideon Wasike, the Head Teacher Kilimani Primary School applauded this new initiative especially at his school.

‘’With the hub we have been able to reduce the amount of time we spend on lesson planning. With full connectivity now, teachers and students can now be interacting with others around the world, thus making them global citizens’’ he said.

The partnership with Airtel, which has been dubbed ‘’Badiliko’’ between the British Council and Microsoft that supports ICT integration in schools across the region.  David Ssegawa, the Chief Human Resource Officer, Airtel Africa said Airtel aims to improve the quality of life of communities through their cooperate social responsibility work in education.

‘’we are excited to partner with British Council, and to use their established platform to enhance learning and provide internet accessibility in schools and the communities around them. This initiative continues our work in education and community development in Africa.’’ He said

Westlands Primary School Kariobangi South Primary  and Kilimani Primary in Nairobi, Kwoyo primary in Oyugis, Nyamasare Primary in Mbita, Sinaga Girls Secondary School in Siaya and Nyamira Boys High School in Kisii are the schools to be connected  in Nyanza region. In Coast,Malindi Education and Development Association (MEDA) in Malindi, Mwaluvanga Primary  in Kwale and Shujaa Mekatilili in Kilifi and Central Girls Primary in Mombasa will also receive a hub.  Rift Valley will see Crater Primary in Nakuru County and Mary Mount Girls Secondary in Molo also connected. Chogoria Girls Boarding in Meru, Maralal Deb Primary School in Maralal and Igwamiti Primary in Nyahururu  will be among the schools in Eastern, Northern and Central Kenya respectively will also enjoy this digital connection.

Two schools in Western Kenya Katakwa Primary  in Teso and Eshibimbi Primary School in Butere Mumias will all also be connected to a digital hub

The British Council has invested in digital interventions that enable African Schools to participate in the global exchange of knowledge and ideas. Improved ICT skills enables teachers to link their classrooms to others globally, this in the end adds an international dimensions to their educational and fostering mutual understanding.

In order to support governments to consider good practice in this area, the British council has organized policy dialogues workshops in several countries highlighting key aspects in ICT intervention. This involves professional development for the teachers and school leaders, infrastructure, curriculum, policy engagement and robust monitoring evaluation.

British Council Operates a number of similar educational programmes including connection Classrooms, Commonwealth Class and Badiliko to support schools Africa with over 600 schools in Kenya are currently benefiting from these British Council Programmes.

 By Nixon Kanali, Nairobi


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