Rwanda Set To Benefit From SocialEDU Initiative Launched By Internet.org
The SocialEDU initiative has an equally ambitious program that is meant to provide students in Rwanda with free access to relevant education content online. This is an initiative by Internet.org (an association of Facebook, Opera, Ericsson, Nokia, MediaTek, Samsung and Qualcomm, whose goal is to provide internet access to the two third billion people without access to this service). Internet.org’s SocialEDU initiative employs the infrastructure laid down by the Smart Kigali Initiative to create a learning experience platform for the local education content which students will be accessed through handheld devices, at the same time they will be promoting collaborative e-learning via the internet.
The SocialEDU Initiative is the “love-child” of the collaboration of Facebook, Rwandan Government, Ericsson, Nokia, edX and Airtel Africa. The initiative will address 5 key barriers to students accessing quality education by enabling them access free data, provide relevant education content for free, avail to the affordable smartphones, a social learning experience with local contents and government support to see that the initiative will be a success.
Javier Olivan, the Vice President of Growth and Analytics at Facebook said, “Internet.org is about working together to remove barriers to access and give billions of people the power to connect to the knowledge economy…SocialEDU represents this kind of collaboration at its best”. Hence Facebook will partner with edX to develop a mobile learning app that will be integrated with Facebook. While Ericsson will be working closely with Facebook to ensure that the app developed works optimally with the 2G Network while consume as less data as possible.
On the other hand Airtel will be providing free data for the students participating in this pilot program, for a time period extending up to a full year. The program will be enhanced by collaborative learning via the internet with international education institution like UC Berkeley, ETH Zurich, MIT, TU Delft, ETH Zurich, Australian National University and Harvard. The Rwandan students are encouraged to actively interact with other international students and teachers from abroad, while they use these online learning resources.
Nokia will play its role as a provider of cheap smartphone, which will be the primary device with which the students will be able to do their online learning. The host government, will play its role by drastically lowering the prices to access, by implement government financial solutions geared to reduce interest rates through subsidies and guarantees of micro-loans. In addition to this the Rwandan Government will use the universal service fund (USF) to ensure that this initiative will be a success.
The Smart Kigali Initiative is set to be expanded further outside Kigali to campuses throughout Kigali. The government will work with edX to come up with relevant local content for the education syllabus in the SocialEDU Initiative.