Mohamed Salah has become the first Ambassador for Instant Network Schools – which connect refugee and host country students to a quality digital education – as the programme prepares to expand into his home country of Egypt for the first time.
Instant Network Schools was set up in 2013 by Vodafone Foundation and UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, to give young refugees, host communities and their teachers access to digital learning content and the internet, improving the quality of education in some of the most marginalised communities in Africa.
To date, the programme has benefited over 86,500 students and 1,000 teachers ensuring that refugees and children from the communities that host them have access to accredited, quality, and relevant learning opportunities.
There are 36 Instant Network Schools currently operating across eight refugee camps in Kenya, Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan.
Vodafone Foundation and UNHCR are jointly investing €26 million to expand the programme to benefit 500,000 refugee and host community students and 10,000 teachers.
By 2025, 255 new Instant Network Schools will be opened, including 20 schools planned this year.
Mr Salah will visit some of the schools supported by the programme and will help to raise awareness of the need and importance of quality education for refugee children and for more investment in digital technology that provides a connection to the outside world and gives students a chance to shape their own futures.
Mohamed Salah said:“I’m partnering with Vodafone Foundation and UNHCR to close the gap between the education available to refugees and their peers living in settled communities. Instant Network Schools is an important initiative that I am proud to represent which is transforming learning for a generation of young people across sub-Saharan Africa and soon also in my home country, Egypt.”
Andrew Dunnett, Vodafone’s Group Director of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Sustainable Business and Foundations, said:“Over 50% of the world’s 70.8 million displaced people are children and they can spend their entire schooling in refugee camps with limited access to a quality education. Mohamed Salah shares our passion about the importance of education as a pivotal building block for personal and societal development and will help us to promote and expand the Instant Network Schools programme.”
Dominique Hyde, UNHCR’s Director of External Relations said: “We are very proud of our long-term partnership with the Vodafone Foundation, and we are delighted to welcome Mohamed Salah as Ambassador of UNHCR and Vodafone’s Instant Network Schools programme. On and off the football field, Mohamed is a positive and inspirational role model for youth all around the world. His optimism and passion perfectly align with the Instant Network Schools programme. Connected education brings hope to refugee youth, giving them the inspiration, motivation and opportunity to achieve a better future.”
Mr Salah, who was named by Time Magazine in 2019 as one of the 100 most influential people in the world, is well known for his philanthropy in a range of areas including education.
Mr Salah has been a brand ambassador for Vodafone Egypt since the end of 2017 and has fronted the company’s brand advertising campaigns ever since. In 2018, Vodafone Egypt launched the ‘Mo Salah World’ promotional price plan which offered customers 11 free voice minutes every time he scored a goal.
Instant Network Schools
An Instant Network School transforms an existing classroom into an online hub for learning, complete with internet connectivity, sustainable solar power and a robust teacher training programme.
At the heart of an Instant Network School is technology provided by Vodafone Foundation, the Instant Classroom, a digital ‘school in a box’ that can be set up in a matter of minutes. It includes:
25 tablets for students;
1 laptop for the teacher;
1 4G connectivity/Wi-Fi router to connect to the internet;
in built solar charging for the tablets and laptops;
a library of digital educational resources.
A recent evaluation of the existing programme over one year showed a positive impact on learning outcomes, including an increase in informational communications technology (ICT) literacy of 61% for students and 125% for teachers, improved confidence, motivation and academic performance by students. Wider analysis shows higher levels of school attendance, with examples of young people accessing tertiary education from within refugee camps for the first time.
Vodafone is UNHCR’s largest corporate partner for Connected Education, supporting the delivery of the United Nations SDG number four (ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all) and 17 (strengthen the means of implementation and revitalise the global partnership for sustainable development).