Technology for education makes a difference. Here’s what we’re doing
This year, 60 million girls is supporting three amazing projects that use our Mobile Learning Lab (MLL) to bring quality education to children in remote communities.
It’s clear that better quality education is needed in many communities around the world. We are currently living through a global crisis where children – mainly in low-income countries – are not learning, even if they are in school.
The global learning crisis means that over half of all children in primary school won’t be able to read a simple sentence or do a basic math problem when they graduate. In low-income countries, four out of five children are not learning.
Problems require solutions
While 60 million girls is a small organization, and global solutions will require wide-ranging systemic change, we are doing our part to make a difference for children. That’s why we fund 2-3 projects annually with grants of $100,000 each.
In rural areas, children often don’t have trained teachers and, even if they do, large class sizes and a lack of educational resources make it hard for teachers to reach all students. When parents see that their children aren’t learning – and that family investments in their education are coming to naught – children are often pulled out of school to work or get married.
60 million girls developed the MLL to address the problem of education quality, and we are working with partners around the world to implement it.
Last year, Wanda visited projects in rural Guatemala to see the impact of the MLL on students, teachers and communities. She found that communities’ desire for more and better educational tools is higher than ever.
She also travelled to Nicaragua’s Bosawás Biosphere Reserve, where we funded the construction of two secondary schools, to see if it would be feasible to implement the MLL in this area.
What is the MLL? The MLL is based on the RACHEL (Remote Area Community Hotspot for Education and Learning), a small server that can connect up to 50 tablets. Educational programs or any relevant information can be downloaded on to the RACHEL and accessed offline in areas where there is no Internet connectivity. The MLL includes a RACHEL, tablets, and a solar panel – if deployed in areas where there is limited or no electricity.
Adaptable for use in various contexts
Several projects we funded last year, and which are now underway (stay tuned for updates!), emphasized issues facing young women, such as sexual and reproductive health, to give them tools to take control of their bodies – and stay in school. Another project focused on bringing educational resources to children affected by conflict in South Sudan.
You can read all about these projects on our website.
While in Nicaragua and Guatemala, Wanda travelled with local representatives from World Possible/Mundo Posible – the creator of the RACHEL. They showed her how the RACHEL can support teachers so they can learn new pedagogical techniques.
This year, our fundraising campaign will focus on three amazing projects to improve the quality of education for children in rural, often isolated communities in Ghana, Nicaragua and Liberia.
Quality of education in rural Ghana
We are thrilled to partner with the Campaign for Female Education (CAMFED), a large UK-based charity, which recently registered in Canada. The project we’re funding in rural Ghana will deploy 10 MLLs in 10 schools to boost the quality of education, along with regular school attendance.
To make it a success, CAMFED will train and mentor 20 female teachers and “edupreneurs” as MLL coordinators. Plus, all MLL coordinators will be members of CAMA – CAMFED’s alumnae association. These are girls who have studied at CAMFED schools and are keen to give back to their communities and see another generation of young people benefit from a quality education.
We love the circular nature of this project where former students are giving back and mentoring a new generation. We are also thrilled that the MLL will be used to attract new students to CAMA-run schools, helping these young women develop leadership skills and business acumen.
Educational technology in rural Nicaragua
The next project in our 2020 lineup addresses the poor quality of education in Nicaragua’s remote Bosawás region. Recently, Wanda saw first-hand the impact the MLL could have on education in this region.
For this project, we are partnering again with Edmonton-based Change for Children (CFC), following the completion of two other successful projects we funded in 2015 and 2018. Our investment will support education for children in three communities, and expands on a Global Affairs Canada grant CFC received last year. Together, both funding sources mean that CFC will have the resources to improve the quality of education in all seven of the indigenous communities of the Miskito Indian Tasbaika Kum in the Bosawás. Specifically, the project will:
- Provide MLLs along with technical and pedagogical assistance for teachers during class time. The MLL will also be available after school to enable students to explore content on their own.
- Curate and develop educational content and information on gender equality and sexual and reproductive health in the local language.
- Generate data on learning outcomes that the local government and other funding agencies can use to support education and universities can access for scholarship considerations.
Remedial education for adolescent girls
Our third project builds on the substantial successes of a previous initiative in Liberia to address the needs of 375 over-age girls in 25 rural schools. This time, our partner, CODE, will deploy 10 MLLs – rotating them between the schools – to improve access to interesting and fun educational resources, including 32 e-books CODE developed in conjunction with local authors and illustrators.
Most girls in the program are 12-15 years old and reading around grade 1-3 level. The previous project in 2018 showed huge increases in learning with 75% of girls jumping two grade levels. Another 22% of girls moved up one grade level, while a small proportion had to drop out.
In addition to the use of the MLL for literacy training, the adolescent girls will receive instruction on sexual and reproductive health. CODE will provide sanitary products and snacks to eliminate other impediments that keep girls out of school.
We are very proud to support these three fantastic projects in 2020. The global learning crisis is real. Our Mobile Learning Lab offers an interesting and effective solution so that children and adolescents can access fun, quality educational resources to help them stay in school and learn.