Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 6 April 2020

Mo Salah becomes first ambassador for UN refugee schools programme

Footballer to launch 20 new digital schools to help refugees in Egypt

Mohamed Salah. Instagram
Mohamed Salah. Instagram

Mo Salah has become the first ambassador for a schools programme to help refugees in his native Egypt and other countries.

The project is due to create 20 Egyptian digital schools by turning classrooms into online centres for learning and sport in 2020.

In his role as ambassador for Instant Network Schools, which provides refugees and host country students with a high-quality digital education, the Liverpool star will visit some of the schools supported by the programme.

Salah hopes to raise awareness of the need and importance of a good education for refugee children.

“I’m partnering with Vodafone Foundation and UNHCR to close the gap between the education available to refugees and their peers living in settled communities," he said.

"Instant Network Schools is an important initiative that I am proud to represent.

"It is transforming learning for a generation of young people across sub-Saharan Africa and soon also in my home country, Egypt.”

The initiative aims to provide education to 500,000 students by 2025 and is creating 20 new schools in Egypt this year.

Instant Network Schools was set up in 2013 by Vodafone Foundation and UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, to give young refugees, host communities and their teachers access to digital learning and the internet to improve the quality of education in some of the most marginalised communities in Africa.

To date, the programme has benefited more than 86,500 students and 1,000 teachers, ensuring that refugees and children from the communities that host them have access to accredited and relevant learning opportunities.

Dominique Hyde, UNHCR’s Director of External Relations, said Salah would boost the programme.

“On and off the football field, Mohamed is a positive and inspirational role model for youth all around the world," Ms Hyde said.

"His optimism and passion perfectly align with the Instant Network Schools programme.

"Connected education brings hope to refugee youths, giving them the inspiration, motivation and opportunity to achieve a better future.”

There are 36 Instant Network Schools operating in eight refugee camps in Kenya, Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan.

Vodafone Foundation and UNHCR are investing €26 million to expand the programme to benefit 500,000 refugee and host community students, and 10,000 teachers.

By 2025, 255 Instant Network Schools will be opened, including the 20 this year.

The project gives the schools internet connectivity, sustainable solar power and a teacher-training programme.

The Vodafone Foundation provides each classroom with 25 tablet computers for pupils, a laptop for the teacher, a projector, speaker, Wi-Fi and a digital library.

A recent evaluation of the existing programme showed a 61 per cent increase in computer literacy for pupils and improved confidence, motivation and academic performance.

Wider analysis shows higher levels of school attendance, with young people accessing tertiary education from within refugee camps for the first time.

Andrew Dunnett, Vodafone’s group director of sustainable development goals, said: “Over 50 per cent of the world’s 70.8 million displaced people are children and they can spend their entire schooling in refugee camps with limited access to a quality education.

"Mohamed Salah shares our passion about the importance of education as a pivotal building block for personal and societal development, and will help us to promote and expand the Instant Network Schools programme.”

Salah, who was named by Time Magazine in 2019 one of the 100 most influential people in the world, is well known for his philanthropy in areas including education.

He has been a brand ambassador for Vodafone Egypt since 2017.

Updated: February 28, 2020 05:52 PM

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