The UN children’s fund (UNICEF) on Wednesday announced a partnership deal with the mobile operator Airtel Africa to help provide access to online learning and cash transfers for children and their families in sub-Saharan Africa.
Under this partnership, UNICEF and Airtel Africa will use mobile technology to benefit an estimated 133 million school-age children currently affected by school closures in 13 countries across sub-Saharan Africa during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This will help ensure families have additional resources to cope with the ongoing health and economic crisis due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” UNICEF said in a statement issued in Nairobi.
According to UNICEF, the adverse effects of school closures on children’s learning are well documented amid warnings from experts that gains made in increasing access to learning in the previous decade may be reversed completely.
The partnership will also provide UNICEF with a means to facilitate vital cash assistance to alleviate financial barriers for some of the most vulnerable families across the region, including many affected by the growing socio-economic hardships resulting from the suspension of income-earning activities.
Raghunath Mandava, Airtel Africa CEO said the mobile operator will zero-rate select websites hosting educational content, which will provide children with remote access to digital content at no cost