Instant Network Schools Programme, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the Vodafone Foundation / May 2016 - December 2017

Girls working on the mock-up of their website

Today, there are over 65.3 million displaced persons worldwide. More than half are children, including an estimated six million primary and secondary school-going age children who are under UNHCR’s care.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) estimates that the average length of time a refugee spends in exile is approximately 20 years; representing a child’s entire academic career. This is why UNHCR places significant priority on ensuring refugees have access to quality learning opportunities, leading to an increased access to jobs or to economic activities, a better integration in the host country and an increased capacity to rebuild their life when repatriated to home countries.

In October 2013, in order to enhance education programmes in refugee camps and deliver better learning outcomes, the Vodafone Foundation opened its first Instant Network School (INS) in Goma (DRC) and, since then, deployed and additional 17 INS together with UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and local education NGOs, in refugee camps in Kenya, South Sudan and Tanzania.

At the heart of the programme is an in-house solution called “Instant Classroom” which consists of a turnkey plug-and-play solution in one box to set up connected and digital classrooms in minutes. The box includes: 1 laptop, 25 tablets, 1 video projector, a 3G Ethernet modem providing access to the Internet and a walled-garden of educational content and apps, and power.

Vodafone Foundation and UNHCR have designed a holistic approach to adapt these resources to address local needs, therefore providing, along with the Instant Classroom box, also Internet connectivity, solar / batteries infrastructure to power the equipment (and back-up generator), extensive training programme to support teachers with the integration of new technology in their lessons, and tailored educational content (library of e-books and interactive content available on demand).

The programme also included a series of extra-curricular activities such as ICT Girls Boot Camp, Project FUN, after-school support, reading clubs and additional activities. In 2015, Vodafone also launched a series of Leadership Lessons, where global leaders, such as Vittorio Colao –CEO Vodafone Group, Mukhtar Kent – CEO Coca-Cola Co., Simons Collins – CEO KPMG, Malala Yousfzai – Nobel Laureate, Bob Collymoer – CEO Safaricom, gave a one-hour, interactive lesson to children and young people in the refugee camps through the INS, sharing their expertise and business leadership skills.

As of 31st Dec 2016, the Vodafone Foundation and UNHCR have established 24 INS centres amongst which 6 opened in 2016: 2 in Nyarugusu (Tanzania) in March, and 4 in Kakuma (Kenya) in September 2016.

Through the 24 INS centres, the INS programme benefitted to approximately 31,000 students and 570 teachers in 2016: quality improvements have been seen in the excellent performance of refugee children in national examinations.

The project is still ongoing and, in addition to the future launch of 9 new INS centres in Tanzania and in DRC, the Vodafone Foundation and UNHCR teams have identified other global strategic priorities for 2017 with the objective to build on the existing and consolidate on-going INS activities.