Government, UNESCO, and Huawei Announce DigiSchool Connectivity to focus on Girls, Special Education Schools

The First Lady of the Republic of Kenya Rachel Ruto, alongside other government ministries, Huawei and UNESCO, announced the launch of the second phase of the DigiSchool Connectivity project in Kenya.

The announcement took place at International Women’s Day celebrations hosted by the partners at the Kenya Institute of Special Education (KISE). Aligned with the theme of this year’s International Women’s Day – ‘DigitALL: Innovation and Technology for Gender Equality’ – the First Lady emphasized how technology and projects such as DigiSchoolConnectivity can empower women and girls, particularly those with special needs.

“It is exciting to see this initiative between KISE and Huawei being announced here today, to see how you can explore the use of technology and how it can be used by KISE to support those with special needs across the country.

“I am delighted to see Huawei and UNESCO take the lead in identifying this critical issue and exploring how technology can be used to support those with special needs in their education.

“I believe that this will be a transformative program especially for our youth and especially for our girls in schools and in their careers,” said Rachel Ruto, First Lady of the Republic of Kenya, in a speech read on her behalf by her Chief-of-staff.

Supported by UNESCO and Huawei under its TECH4ALL digital inclusion initiative, the DigiSchool Connectivity project is run by the Kenyan ministries of education and ICT and ICT Authority as part of the government’s Digital Literacy Programme (DLP), which aims to enhance the provision of quality education through integrating ICT in teaching, learning, and education management.

Phase 1 of the project saw 13 rural schools connected to the Internet in 2021, and Phase 2 will connect a further 15 with aerial fiber, including six special education schools. As well as providing additional content and activities to support girl students interested in science and technology, the project’s second phase will provide video conferencing technology for the Kenya Institute of Special Education (KISE) to support students and teachers at special education schools.

“I thank our partners for this event today and for the DigiSchool Connectivity project. We know that together we can achieve much more than we can alone, and that together we can use technology to make a big difference for women, especially those with special needs,” said Steven Zhang, Huawei’s Deputy CEO for Public Affairs in Kenya.

An awards ceremony was also held at the International Women’s Day celebrations, which recognized the outstanding achievements of six teachers and six students in the field of special education. Leaders from the Ministry of Education, Ministry of ICT and Digital Economy, Ministry of Public Service, Gender and Affirmative Action also spoke at the event highlighting the importance of technology in empowering women and girls with special needs.

A clear theme throughout the event was the key role partnerships play, alongside technology and connectivity, in achieving education inclusion.

“UNESCO works in partnership with the government of Kenya, in particular the Ministry of Education and Ministry of ICT with the support from Huawei to support the connection of schools to Internet to enhance access and utilization of digital learning opportunities. I would like to thank Huawei on behalf of my Director for following through on the pledge made on joining the global education coalition that UNESCO set up to provide Internet access to schools in Kenya” said Schéhérazade Feddal, Deputy Director of Education at UNESCO East Africa.

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