Education is not only a fundamental human right and a path to personal empowerment and opportunity, but is at the core of economic development and a key to ending poverty, especially for girls. Girls with secondary education are six times less likely to be married as children, and twice as likely to send their future children to school. A year of additional schooling can add 10 percent to a girl’s future earnings. UNESCO estimates that in Africa, 1.8 million children’s lives could be saved if their mothers had at least a secondary education. A child born to a mother who can read is 50 percent more likely to live past age 5. Women with post-primary education are five times more likely than illiterate women to be educated about the risks of contracting HIV/AIDS.
Yet millions of adolescents remain out of school, and over half of them are girls. In addition, despite significant progress in getting children into school, learning levels remain unacceptably low. Often children leave school without acquiring the basic knowledge and skills they need to lead productive healthy lives and to achieve sustainable livelihoods.
200 million adolescents, including those completing secondary school, don’t have the skills they need for life/employment 250 million or more primary school-age children around the world aren’t able to read, write or count to meet minimum learning standards, including girls and boys with at least four years of schooling
Connect To Learn (CTL) is a global education initiative catalyzed in late 2010 by the Earth Institute of Columbia University, Millennium Promise (an NGO), and Ericsson. This initiative aims at scaling up access to secondary education, in particular for girls, by providing scholarships and bringing information & communications technologies (ICT) to the schools. CTL is pioneering ICT in rural classrooms and charting a course for scalable solutions. ICT offers new ways to blend classroom instruction and collaboration, self-directed online learning, everyday student experiences, global partnerships, and online communities of students, teachers and professionals. Classrooms everywhere, from cities to the most isolated villages, will be transformed in exciting ways with the expansion of mobile broadband networks.
Impacting around 38,000 students worldwide today, Connect To Learn was rolled out first in the Millennium Villages Project sites across sub-Saharan Africa in order to build upon lessons learned and existing in-country relationships, staff and infrastructure. The Millennium Villages Project is a proof of concept that extreme poverty can be eradicated and the Millennium Development Goals can be reached by simultaneous investments in agriculture, education, health, infrastructure and business development. The project is taking a holistic, community-led approach to sustainable development and uniting science, business, civil society and government to empower communities to become a part of the solution to ending extreme poverty.
By January 2014, Connect To Learn will have enrolled 762 students in secondary schools across 12 Millennium Villages sites in 10 African countries, the vast majority of them girls. This gender focus helps support attitudinal shifts in scholars’ communities regarding the importance of girls’ education. In addition to providing girls’ scholarships covering school fees, living expenses, and general well-being expenses for girl students at $600 per year per student, Connect To Learn impacts thousands of boys and girls and their teachers through the ICT investments Ericsson and other ICT industry partners make in the schools they attend and other schools worldwide.
QUALITY TEACHING & LEARNING THROUGH CONNECTED CLASSROOMS
Connect To Learn works to increase the quality of teaching and learning outcomes through installations of computer and broadband technology in classrooms. To date, CTL has completed ICT installations in 16 secondary schools across 8 countries in sub-Saharan Africa, plus brings connectivity and ICTs to secondary schools in Brazil, Chile, China, Djibouti & India. CTL complements these installations with teacher training in the use of computers, online learning resources, and active, project-based teaching methods in classroom practice.
To inform our work and share our experience with others dedicated to improved quality global learning, Connect To Learn at the Earth Institute conducted a yearlong research study on the use of ICT in the classroom. The study was conducted in 4 schools in Kenya and Uganda in collaboration with Columbia University Teachers College, the University of Nairobi and Kampala University. The report is available at www.connecttolearn.org/education-study.