UNICEF partners to boost digital literacy in schools in Kenya

The UN children's fund (UNICEF) Kenya has partnered with Nokia to increase equitable access to digital literacy for some of the most disadvantaged children in primary schools across the east African nation.

The partnership which was inked during the ongoing Nairobi Innovation Week includes girls and children with disabilities in urban informal settlements and some of the most remote areas of Kenya.

Maniza Zaman, representative of UNICEF in Kenya, said the UN agency is working in partnership with the government and the private sector through innovative partnerships to empower the most disadvantaged children to get quality education with the internet.

"We are proud to have contributed to the development of the first Accessible Digital Textbook with support from the UNICEF Innovation Fund and Nokia. This is a major step in furthering inclusive education through innovative technology for children in Kenya and beyond," Zaman said in a statement issued in Nairobi.

She said the Accessible Digital Textbook with special features for children, with hearing, visual and intellectual disabilities, has successfully been piloted in schools during the first quarter of 2019 and will be launched by the government later this month.

The partnership builds on Kenya's investment in the Digital Literacy Project which provided one million tablets to primary schools with a focus on improving the availability and use of quality digital content.

The collaboration also brings together stakeholders from ministries of education and ICT, as well as the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD), children, teachers, content providers and mobile network operators in Kenya, to address challenges and unlock opportunities for digital learning and literacy.

Julius Jwan, CEO of KICD said KICD has successfully produced the first accessible digital textbook for children in Grade 1, contributing to equitable access to digital literacy with technical and financial support provided by UNICEF and active participation of children with disabilities.

"This textbook provides quality digital content for children with disabilities on the Digital Literacy Project devices. It also allows learners without disabilities to access features like Kenya Sign Language videos, thereby contributing to inclusive education. This project is scalable to cover the other learning areas," said Jwan.

The partnership will provide support to Kenya to avail more digital learning materials to schools in urban informal settlements of Nairobi and the frontier counties of Garissa and Turkana by connecting them to the internet using the latest Nokia connectivity technology.

"We are committed to using our technologies to meet the goals of sustainable development worldwide," said Joachim Wuilmet, Nokia's head of Marketing and Communications, Middle East and Africa.