Airtel, British Council sign digital learning MOU
By Gregory Gondwe, Blantyre, Malawi
Airtel Malawi has signed a three-year-long partnership with the British Council that will connect primary school classrooms in the country with ICT facilities.
Heiko Schlittke signed the MOU in Lilongwe on behalf of Airtel Malawi as the company’s Managing Director while British Council’s Malawi Director Reena Johl signed on behalf of the council.
“At Airtel, we believe that our continued involvement in the development of ICT in the country’s education will go a long way in uplifting the welfare and general standards of our society,” said Schlittke during the signing ceremony.
He said quality education is a must and for it to triumph there is need to enhance access to education.
In short, Schlittke said the MOU is basically about connectivity in rural areas and in schools.
“ICT or data connectivity is becoming an essential for modern education; for further education and for enhancing existing levels of education across the country,” he said.
The biggest issue, so far, especially in sub-Saharan Africa the Airtel MD said has always been connectivity.
“So what we are doing here is partnering up to provide the road, the highway and the content by bringing this into schools in the country where we can provide our part which is the connectivity part while the British Council’s part which is the know how is all aimed at enhancing and furthering education in the rural areas,” he said.
Schlittke said the partnership was officially started last month in Nchalo, where a digital hum was launched at St. Mathews Primary School.
“This partnership has come at the right time when learning needs to be ICT aided. ICT integration in primary schools in Malawi is the now thing, it is what is going to shape the much needed future of this country and ultimately graduate our communities into competitive global citizens,” he said.
The partnership will see Airtel Malawi providing full internet access to British Council hubs with 5GB of monthly data for a period of three years.
Taking her turn, Johl said they have six digital hubs across the country and this is their very natural partnership with Airtel.
“We are providing opportunity for the teachers, for the learners and the communities in which they are based to connect with the outside world not just for education purposes but we finding that these digital hubs are being used to support community initiatives and also businesses in the local area,” she said.
Johl further stated that for them, the digital hubs are an essential part of their education programme here in Malawi.
“Because what we are trying to achieve and contribute to through our education programme is to support the development of young people and to provide them with the skills to operate in the global economy,” she said.
Johl said as British Council they agree with Airtel that connectivity is an essential part of the programme.
The British Council’s classroom connectivity hubs are at Nkhando Teachers Development Centre in Karonga, Chihame in Nkhatabay, Ntaja in Machinga and Nyamadzera in Nsanje.
The company’s partnership with British Council adds coulour to the company’s engagement in the education sector in ICT cycles.
This year, Airtel Malawi donated 150 state of the art 3g ZTE tabs to libraries of 15 public and private institutions of high learning, including the University of Malawi, Mzuzu University and Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources among others.