‘Digital divide in education continues to widen’
Connecting schools and skills development are two key ways in which Huawei plans to contribute towards equitable and quality education.
This is according to the Chinese multinational company’s Deputy Chairman Ken Hu, who recently outlined the firm’s vision and action plan for education under its digital inclusion initiative TECH4ALL at the Global Education Webinar Driving Equity and Quality with Technology.
According to Huawei, digital technology plays an important role in education. However, 50% of the world’s population still does not have internet access, and many people lack the skills needed to use digital devices. As a result, the digital divide in education continues to widen.
Hu said: "We believe that everyone, everywhere has the right to education and the equality of opportunity it brings. As a technology company, Huawei wants to help with connectivity, applications and skills by focusing on two important areas of connecting schools and developing digital skills respectively.”
In South Africa, Huawei recently launched the DigiSchool project in partnership with operator rain and educational non-profit organisation Click Foundation, which aims to connect 100 urban and rural primary schools over the next year.
Nicola Harris, CEO, Click Foundation said: "Through digital education, we not only address the literacy crisis in the country, but also provide young children with the digital skills needed for future success.”
Huawei plans to provide digital skills training for vulnerable groups in remote areas, especially female students, through projects such as DigiTruck in a program called ‘Skills on Wheels.’
The company says since the launch of DigiTruck in Kenya at the end of last year, it has provided training for more than 1,500 young adults and teachers in rural areas.
Huawei hopes to replicate the program in France, the Philippines and other countries in the next two years.
Olivier Vanden Eynde, CEO of Close the Gap, key partner of DigiTruck, said: "These all solar-powered, mobile classrooms with wireless broadband access can reach even the most remote communities."
Huawei has joined forces with the UNESCO Coalition and the Ministry of National Education of Senegal to support the country to carry out distance learning during the outbreak.
Local teachers are provided with connectivity, digital devices and skills training which will benefit more than 100,000 students.
“This crisis has changed the face and future of education. It has demonstrated how fast change can happen through partnership, when expertise and resources are matched up with local needs to ensure learning continuity, especially for the most marginalised students,” said Stefania Giannini, UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Education.
Borhene Chakroun, Director of UNESCO’s Policy and Lifelong Learning Systems, reiterated that “with at least 63 million primary and secondary teachers affected, the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the need for developing teachers' capacity to effectively engage in distance learning, which will become part of the education and training provision in the future”.