According to UNESCO, an estimated 32 million female adolescents aren’t enrolled in school globally. Many are from families who are too poor to afford the school fees or need the girls to work. Many might be forced into early marriage. And for many, it’s just too dangerous—they risk being sexually assaulted on their way to school or at school. Without education, these young women are more likely to remain trapped in a cycle of poverty and violence.
I want to see these girls in classrooms, getting a quality education. I want them to learn vital skills that will empower them to earn a decent living and improve the quality of life for themselves, their families and communities.
Through our work with Qualcomm Wireless Reach, we’re taking action. We are part of Connect To Learn in Myanmar, where, according to the World Bank, an estimated 26 percent of the population lives in poverty and only about 54 percent of secondary school-aged children are enrolled in secondary school.
A global initiative launched by Ericsson, Connect To Learn, uses Information and Communications Technology (ICT), including 3G-enabled laptops and tablets, wireless connectivity and cloud-based educational content and resources, to promote universal access to quality secondary education.
The Connect To Learn program in Myanmar is a collaboration between Wireless Reach, Ericsson, the UK Department for International Development, Earth Institute, EduEval Educational Consultancy, Finja Five, UNESCO, Myanmar Post and Telecommunications, and Myanmar’s Ministry of Education and Ministry of Communications and Information Technology.
Our program aims to improve learning outcomes in literacy and numeracy as well as develop the ICT skills of more than 21,000 students, half of whom are marginalized girls, by 2017. It aligns with Goal 4 (quality education) of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.
I was recently in Myanmar, where we announced the program’s results to date. Since Connect To Learn began in this country in June 2015, 155 teachers in 31 schools in three states have successfully completed the first stage of their ICT skills training. These teachers have begun integrating ICT into their classroom lessons and use the internet to enrich the students’ learning experience. Our program has also awarded 600 scholarships to deserving female students to help them stay in school.
Connect To Learn is being implemented in very resource-poor communities, offering female students at schools that previously didn’t have even a basic phone line the opportunity to leapfrog to a 21st century education and acquire skills that will better prepare them for the workforce after graduation.
I am hopeful that this program will make a difference in their lives, and I invite you to read more about it in this Glamour magazine article “How Tablets and Tech are Revolutionizing Education in Myanmar.”