Empowering Women’s Education in Remote Communities Using Satcom
Affordable satellite communication technology is elevating access to in-demand skills and the latest learning resources for young girls in the Kajiado Central Constituency in Kenya. Less than 20% of girls from the Maasai community enroll in school and even fewer proceed to secondary school. With large tracts of land used for cattle rearing, schools are few and far between. In the past, such remote communities were disconnected from technological progress with no telecom infrastructure to support access to knowledge-sharing resources. IEC Telecom Group and OstaTech Limited joined efforts to change the status quo with cost-effective internet connectivity over satellite networks. Seamless communications infrastructure has enhanced inclusivity for educational resources, bridging the gap between urban and rural communities.
This summer, Memusi Hope Foundation partnered with Moringa School, OstaTech Limited & IEC Telecom Group, KENIC Limited, Huawei Technologies, and Santos Okotta to deliver Entaisere é Kenya, an education programme to equip these young girls with software development skills and possible employment. Girls, who have finished high school, enrolled in the first batch of a special digital education curriculum in the month of August and are all set to graduate this month. The plan is to deliver courses every six months to more young girls who may have completed high school or some university-level courses in the past to bring them on par with the digital skills in-demand today.
“In 2009, when we came up with the concept of working with women and youth in Kajiado County, it was just a simple dream. The following years showed how such an idea could be a powerful reality that would positively transform human life. We take pride in our accomplishments in Kajiado County to empower women and the youth. Today, we celebrate the first milestone, and moving further, we have an ambitious plan to scale up the project by 2028”, says Elijah Memusi Kanchory, Founder & Patron, Memusi Hope Foundation.
According to the International Finance Corporation (IFC), 230 million jobs in Africa will require digital skills by 2030. This translates to 650 million potential education and training opportunities in an estimated $130 billion market. Digitalisation in schools and communities is inevitable in East Africa, and the Entaisere é Kenya programme for young girls in the Maasai community brings educational resources to a community that was previously unreachable.
“As part of our Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programmes in East Africa, we’re committed to bridging the digital divide by enabling education in remote areas. Satellite communications offer cost-effective, high-speed internet access for underserved communities. We are honoured to have joined hands as the local service provider of IEC Telecom Group in East Africa, with Memusi Hope Foundation, delivering this innovative education programme to the Maasai community,” states Oscar Mwai, Chief Executive Officer, OstaTech Limited.
The African Union’s Digital Transformation Strategy 2020-2030 emphasises the importance of digitalising education. The COVID-19 pandemic reiterated the urgency of this matter. Over the past two years, numerous initiatives have been rolled out in East Africa to support this noble mission, particularly in Kenya, where digitalisation is a high policy priority for the government, teachers, and education sector professionals. 56% of Kenya’s population is young, lending itself to tech-savvy opportunities in e-learning. This is an excellent scenario because it is estimated that individual returns to education are 13.4% in Africa, significantly higher than the world average of approximately 10%.
Kenya’s Giga Initiative prioritises school education and supports the National Broadband Strategy goal of reaching 100% connectivity across all education programmes and schools. Kenya’s Basic Education Framework 2017 outlines the competency-based curriculum (CBC) strategy and focuses on acquiring skills useful for solving real-life problems. Digital literacy is one of the strategic pillars within the framework. Moreover, Kenya’s DigiSchools Programme aims to equip students with the relevant digital skills needed in today’s digital world. To date, 1,148,160 devices have been distributed to 21,232 schools with additional investment on digital content, teacher training, and electricity supply. This translates into a GDP growth of 1.4%.
“At IEC Telecom, we see connectivity as a transformative power, facilitating access to much-required resources and unlocking the path to new opportunities. Our extensive portfolio of satcom services enables governments to foster equality and inclusion by enabling affordable access to education anywhere,” shares Alaa Alsadi, Business Development Director – Middle East & Africa, IEC Telecom Group.
“Recognising the growing demand for e-learning within East Africa, IEC Telecom has worked hard to develop an all-in-one system that will be affordable, easy-to-deploy, and most importantly, scalable for future demands. We are honoured by the fact that our plug-and-play School Kit solution lies at the heart of the Entaisere é Kenya project. We are inspired by this initiative, and together with our partners from OstaTech, we are devoted to supporting Memusi Hope Foundation on their mission to unlock education for remote communities,” adds Alsadi.
As the first batch of 21 graduates represents a promising future for the advancement of the Maasai community, it’s also the first of many historic steps towards the digitalisation and integration of critical communications infrastructure across the rapidly growing African economy.