MUHEZA DISTRICT, TANZANIA � At a ceremony today in a remote village in Tanga, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) and the United Nations' Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) distributed tablets to children loaded with education software.
As part of the test, more than 2,400 children from 167 villages in the districts of Handeni, Korogwe, Lushoto, Mkinga, Muheza, and Pangani will receive new Google Pixel C tablets, donated by Google. The tablets were pre-loaded with the Global Learning XPRIZE's five finalists' educational software. The finalists were chosen from a field of 198 teams by an independent judging panel of 11 experts and announced in September 2017 during United Nations General Assembly week.
This technology which enables children to learn reading, writing and arithmetic without help of a teacher, is an innovation of the highest standard, said Mayasa Hashim Tanga Regional Education Officer. This will go a long way towards liberating children who are out of the formal educational system so that they too can master these skills.
The tablets were distributed by WFP, which is managing the logistics and Information and Communications Technology (ICT) component of the field test. This includes uploading the software to the tablets, installing solar power charging stations in the villages and managing the maintenance, repair and replacement of the tablets throughout the field test.
Technological innovation can be the answer to some the world's toughest challenges, said WFP Tanzania Country Representative Michael Dunford. This test means we can put new technologies in the service of out-of-school children and other vulnerable people � and fuel wider development in the process. Innovations like these open the door for Governments, organizations and businesses to build on tested models and push the limits beyond what we once thought was possible, not only in the education sector but also in other areas of human development.
The educational components of the field test are being led by UNESCO in partnership with the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology and the President's Office Regional Authority and Local Government (PO-RALG). UNESCO is also responsible for monitoring the children's progress in reading, writing and arithmetic in order to be able to determine which of the finalist software will produce the most learning gains.
The project aligns with UNESCO's mandate to promote inclusive, equitable and quality education, while contributing significantly to efforts by various education stakeholders in Tanzania towards ensuring that all children, including those in marginalized and vulnerable communities, have equal opportunity to education, said UNESCO's Officer in charge Faith Shayo. It provides a second chance to children who did not start primary school when they should have, with the ultimate aim of providing an opportunity for them to enter or re-enter formal education after its completion. This signifies considerable joint efforts between the UN and the Government of Tanzania towards improving literacy for the young generation in the country by using innovative, scalable and low cost technologies. The project can be scaled up to cover more regions in Tanzania or any other country, to foster learning outcomes in early childhood education.
At the end of the field testing phase, the finalist team whose solution enables the greatest proficiency gains will receive the grand prize of US$10 million. The winner will be announced in April 2019. Following the competition, each of the five finalists will open source both their software's code and content, which will be free and available for anyone to build on. It is expected that this self-learning methodology will help guide children in learning and ultimately empower children throughout Tanzania to take control of their own education.
A ceremony will be held in early 2018 to celebrate the start of the field test. The ceremony will be conducted in collaboration with the Government of Tanzania, UNESCO, WFP and the Global Learning XPRIZE.
WFP is the world's largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger worldwide, delivering food assistance in emergencies and working with communities to improve nutrition and build resilience. Each year, WFP assists some 80 million people in around 80 countries.
UNESCO is responsible for coordinating international cooperation in education, science, culture and communication. It strengthens the ties between nations and societies, and mobilizes the wider public so that each child and citizen. UNESCO has offices in 54 countries, in all continents.
Source: World Food Programme