CIO East Africa (Nairobi)

26 February 2014

Rwanda: Facebook Partners With Rwanda Govt to Boost Social Education

Facebook has announced its partnership with Rwanda government to carry out a pilot in the country that will provide students with access to collaborative online education experience for free.

The partnership dubbed SocialEDU also has other partners including Airtel, Nokia and an educational content provider who will together develop a plan to provide students with free, high-quality, localized educational content and create a social learning experience that is accessible via handheld devices.

The proposal hopes to maximize on the successes of massive open online courses by improving access to affordable high quality educational content.

"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," said Javier Olivan, VP of Growth and Analytics at Facebook. SocialEDU will try and address five critical barriers to access of high quality online content including: Free content, free data, affordable smartphones, localized social educational experience and a government that supports innovation.

In SocialEDUedX (edx.org) will collaborate with Facebook by building a mobile app integrated with the social media giant.

"Improving global access to high-quality education has been a key edX goal from day one. Nearly half of our 2 million students come from developing countries, with 10 percent from Africa. In partnering with Facebook on this innovative pilot, we hope to learn how we can take this concept to the world," said Anant Agarwal, president of edX.

Airtel on the other hand will provide free data for everyone participating in the programme for a year as well as lead operations for the phone trade-in program while the other partner Nokia will provide affordable hotels to breach the access to internet access.

Also to ease access to the devices the Government of Rwanda will chip in with interest rate subsidies, micro-loan guarantees, trade-in rebates, and targeted use of its Universal Service Fund.

The government will also expand the reach of the WiFi program in Kigali to campuses throughout the country, enabling students to access high-quality multimedia educational content even as it collaborates with edX to adapt course materials for local students.

"The social education experience will accelerate innovation and propel Rwanda into a knowledge-based economy. We are committed to doing our part to make sure SocialEDU has the greatest possible impact in Rwanda. This is fully aligned with the Government's Broadband for All policy and the Smart Kigali Initiative, a public-private partnership that provides free wi-fi in Kigali's most popular squares, buses, hotels, and public buildings." said Rwanda's Minister of Youth and ICT, Jean Philbert Nsengimana.

The platform will also allow students ask questions, engage with other students, interact with teachers, and participate in group discussions.

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