UNICEF is upgrading its digital schools, currently piloting in Uganda.

In Uganda, 40% of children drop out of primary school in part because they cannot afford the time and financial resources for schooling, and children have to remain in their communities to help with housework. Even for students who stay in school, there is no certainty of actual learning outcomes. On the other hand, teachers in rural schools cannot read and write English fluently. Teacher absenteeism is ranked the highest in the world at 35%, with teachers guaranteed to miss at least two days of work each week.

UNICEF Uganda’s mission is to create an environment where children have access to quality learning anytime, anywhere.

Digital School in a Box
As part of its portfolio to enhance the outcome of universal primary education in Uganda, UNICEF plans to set up 60 “Digital School in the Box” to reach the most marginalized groups. These digital schools, serving 100 to 200 children each, are set up in schools and health centers in rural communities where children spend most of their time so that they have access to quality education content 24/7 and are more prone to learning in a collaborative manner. Each digital school is built around a solar-powered laptop with Internet connectivity, a projector, a speaker and a document camera.

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Goals and Scale
At present, UNICEF procures items (i.e. laptop, speaker, projector etc.) from different producers and assembles them into the box. This process can be onerous at times and may be hazardous in the long run when upgrades and repairs come into the picture. Thus, UNICEF would be interested in exploring collaborations to produce a technology innovation “integrated digital schools/digital school in a box” which will be manufactured and deployed in Uganda.

We have three specific goals:

  • Modify the design of current “digital schools”

  • Produce 50 upgraded “digital schools” in three to four months to pilot in Uganda

  • Mass-produce “digital schools” in Uganda and explore functions besides education (such as health and entertainment)

These digital schools will bring quality learning to thousands of children in rural Uganda. Outcomes of the initiative may be scaled to the East African community and other countries supported by UNICEF’s global network.

Zhiyao Ma
Innovation Unit, UNICEF NYHQ

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