BT launches £1.5 million global development partnership with Unicef
Investing in children’s community projects in South Africa, Brazil and China
BT today launched a three-year global development partnership with UNICEF which will include investing £1.5 million into bringing education, technology and communications skills to children from poor socio-economic backgrounds in South Africa, Brazil and China.
In the first year, the BT and UNICEF partnership will reach over 18,000 children in some of the most economically deprived communities in South Africa.
In 2007/08, the project will focus on rural and semi-rural areas in line with the country’s educational priorities to enhance the quality of basic education for all of the children in the programme. Focusing on communities in two of the most economically disadvantaged South African provinces in KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape, a total of 25 schools have been selected to receive assistance from this initiative.
In addition to installing 250 computers, BT’s investment will help renovate schools and build additional classrooms and state-of-the-art computer labs. In creating these new facilities, BT hopes to provide students with practical ICT skills that will assist in their future economic independence and ultimately help them become skilled members of the workforce.
In order to ensure that children in the future continue to benefit, 150 head teachers and administrators will also be trained in effective school management and leadership skills, while a research study into the impact of the programme will also be undertaken.
The primary focus of the partnership will be on creating a secure and productive learning environment, especially for girls. They will be mentored, coached and trained in communication, technology and science and gain skills in areas, which they are not well represented. As mothers of the next generation, with families to sustain, they will be responsible for ensuring that their children receive an education.
Andy Green, BT Executive Board member and CEO, BT Global Services said: “Those of us who have grown up with technology often take it for granted. By teaming up with UNICEF and supporting the South African Government’s educational priorities, we hope to help UNICEF bring the benefits and opportunities of technology to children and young people in some of the country’s most remote and poorly resourced communities.”
Guests of honour who were in attendance for the launch of the partnership held at the Melrose Arch Hotel in Johannesburg, included, Mr Mohamed Enver Surty, deputy minister of Education of the Republic of South Africa and Mbalenhle Mndebele, a 16 year old pupil at the Mantshinga Combined School in the KwaZulu- Natal province.
Macharia Kamau, UNICEF South Africa representative said: “This initiative will bring South Africa a step closer towards meeting the Millennium Development Goal 2 - agreed to by all the world’s countries - of ensuring that all boys and girls complete a full course of primary schooling by 2015. Investing in schools and teachers will provide children with a higher quality learning environment and encourage them to stay in class.”
This partnership builds on three community initiatives that BT is currently involved with in India. Through the Katha Information Technology and E-commerce School (KITES), more than 9,000 children have already been equipped with ICT skills ranging from basic computing skills to complex software programming, with a number of KITES graduates finding employment in ICT-related fields.
A second project, LifeLines India brings information to people in remote rural areas of India, using the power of digitally engineered information. Additionally, the BT and St Crispin’s ICT Training Centre in Pune, within a residential home and school for 675 underprivileged children, provides a state-of-the-art lab with computers, audio visual teaching aids and classroom for teaching theory.
Andy Green added: “For BT it is crucial that we make a positive and sustainable difference to the communities in which we operate. This partnership enables us to help UNICEF develop the skills of both learners and educators at a very local level and ultimately to improve the futures of children around the world.”
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