In the News
Findings from the Earth Institute’s one-year collaborative action research study in conjunction with Columbia University Teachers College, University of Nairobi, and Kampala University showed significant potential for improved teaching and learning with Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) when the technology strategy is appropriately designed for its intended environment and adequately supported with infrastructure and ongoing professional development for teachers.
Partnering university faculty and secondary school teachers working in close collaboration at four rural schools in Kenya and Uganda, investigators worked for one year to understand the effects, opportunities and challenges of integrating ICT into schools and teaching routines.
Interviews, training workshops, surveys and observations conducted indicate significant improvements in teaching and learning when ICT tools and resources are well-designed with the school infrastructure and environment in mind, and when teachers are provided with thorough training and professional development in how to optimize these resources in their classrooms.
Research findings show that over the course of the year, guided use, training and professional development workshops offered essential support for teachers focusing on using ICT in their classrooms. There were significant increases both in teachers’ reported skill and comfort with using ICT for educational purposes, as well as in the observed use of ICT in their classrooms. For example, where only 21% of teachers considered themselves to be “advanced” users of ICT at the beginning of the project, by the end, 45% of teachers were reporting themselves to be advanced users. There was also an 18% increase in reported use of ICT in the classroom over the course of the project.
Researchers compiled recommendations in several categories, including:
- Physical infrastructure, calling for policies for open access to hardware, electrical outlets throughout all classrooms and security;
- ICT infrastructure, where Wi-Fi networks, adequate airtime, and computers and projectors are basic needs;
- Teacher pedagogical skills and knowledge development along with basic ICT training, where professional development should be facilitated in partnership with local universities or Non-Governmental Organizations, among other steps;
- Open source t
eaching and learning resources, including use of Connect To Learn’s online resource library and expanding the availability of locally relevant online resources;
- Student ICT participation and knowledge, which encourages teachers to assign online research and computer-basedprojects; and
- Public-Private partnership implementation, urging each site to hire local facilitators to provide ongoing support to administrators and teachers, and forging partnerships with local decision-makers and telecommunications industry leaders to institutionalize the integration of ICT at all levels of education.
Professor Jeffery Sachs, Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University and Special Advisor to the UN Secretary-General, said: "Education is at the very core of economic development and a key to ending poverty. In the world economy today, every nation’s success depends on the education of its people, ICT will increasingly be at the center of the education process. ICT offers new and creative ways to combine classroom experience, home learning, global outreach, and connectivity of students and teachers to the burgeoning network of online learning now accessible throughout the world. Classrooms everywhere, from primary schools to higher education, will be dramatically transformed in exciting and enriching ways.
"Effectively integrating technology into teaching practices in resource-poor settings requires bringing many key elements together to enable ICT to fulfill its great potential for improving student learning outcomes,” continued Sachs. "Reliable connectivity, a consistent energy supply, and teacher training are among the key elements for getting started. Designing new curricula that combine online and classroom learning is another high priority. Through broad-based investment and dynamic partnerships with the telecommunications leaders of the world, there is a huge and thrilling opportunity at hand."
“It's been thrilling to enable and track the teachers’ embrace of ICT to bolster their teaching practices through the course of this collaborative research,” said Connect To Learn Executive Director, Kara Nichols. “The possibilities are enormous to bring a world of information and learning resources into our remote rural schools through broadband connectivity. I commend our university partners and local teachers for their extraordinary commitment to this important work, and I’m deeply grateful to Ericsson for making the study possible with funding and technical support. It is my hope that public and private partners will join us to replicate and scale this work across schools in all Connect To Learn sites across Africa and globally.”
Says Dr. Ronald Semyalo, Director of Research from Kampala University and Lead Researcher in the study “A major obstacle to the overall improvement of Uganda’s educational system is a lack of a comprehensive education policy regarding ICT. There is a definite need for training in ICT. A well-informed curriculum is required to train a new crop of teachers with the ability to improve the ICT proficiency of secondary school students. Such a curriculum would also provide critical information to the development of a general educational policy for the country.”
Elaine Weidman-Grunewald, Vice President, Sustainability and Corporate Responsibility, Ericsson, said: “A world where all girls and boys have access to secondary schooling and all teachers and students are connected to quality learning resources through internet access is the vision on which Connect To Learn was founded. In the 21st century, mobile broadband means that access to quality education should no longer be an obstacle – it is increasingly possible to deliver this fundamental human right.”
The ICT in Education Study was designed, commissioned and managed by the Connect To Learn team, based at the Earth Institute at Columbia University and Millennium Promise. The study was conducted with funding and technical support from Ericsson.
The Show Me Campaign (SMC), an organization founded by nine-time Grammy award-winning artist and philanthropist John Legend, announced today that it will fund 10 Connect To Learn girls’ scholarships in Sauri, Kenya. The Show Me Campaign works to break the cycle of poverty through education.
Connect To Learn scholarships fund the tuition and books, living expenses, school supplies and medical expenses for four years of secondary school per student and help ensure that each girl can focus on her academic career, rather than the financial burden of her education.
Mr. Legend explains his motivation for supporting the project: “Ever since my first trip to Africa, I’ve been convinced of the power of education to break their poverty cycle. When I learned about how many fewer girls have the opportunity to pursue education, I knew I had to do something. I’m pleased to announce the first of what we hope will be many girls’ scholarships”.
There are 67 million young people worldwide who remain out of school, and 60% of them are girls. Secondary education equips students with critical thinking skills, enabling civic participation and democratic change. The impact of girls’ secondary and higher education is linked directly to a decrease in child brides, lower fertility rates and healthier children among educated women.
Rose, a student in Ghana who previously received a scholarship funded by The Show Me Campaign, reflects on the value of her education: “This gift is a big opportunity for me, since I want to achieve education to its highest level in life.”
Professor Jeff Sachs, Director of the Earth Institute and Special Advisor to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, went on to say: "Connect To Learn is committed to ensuring that all young people — boys and girls — can complete a secondary education, knowing that this is the path to ending poverty, ensuring prosperity, and creating a more peaceful and sustainable planet. We are deeply grateful and honored to work with John Legend and his Show Me Campaign to bring more girls into school.”
About the Show Me Campaign
Created by nine-time Grammy award-winning artist John Legend, the Show Me Campaign is a nonprofit organization that fights poverty using proven solutions that give people the opportunity to survive, thrive, and succeed. Believing that equal access to quality education is the civil rights issue of our time, the Show Me Campaign works to ensure that every child has access to a quality education in the United States. In Africa, Show Me has worked with Millennium Promise to provide clean water, health care, education and other basic tools that break the cycle of poverty.
- Increase access to ICTs and broadband, particularly for women and marginalized groups
- Incorporate ICTs into job training and continuing education to support 21st century skills
- Teach ICT skills and digital literacy to all educators and learners
- Promote mobile learning and open educational resources available online
- Support the development of content adapted to local contexts and languages
- Work to bridge the digital divide among and within countries
Two Secondary Schools to Benefit from 90 Girls' Scholarships, 50 Netbook Computers, and Internet Connectivity
Connect To Learn has launched in Léona, Senegal with the announcement of 90 multi-year secondary school scholarships for 90 girls and the installation of 50 netbook computers supported by broadband connectivity for two secondary schools in the Millennium Villages Project (MVP) site in Léona. The launch at the Collège d’Enseignement Moyen was attended by MVP staff, students, teachers, parents, administrative authorities, education officials, and representatives of Ericsson and Tigo, two of the organizations supporting the effort.
Connect To Learn is a partnership between the Earth Institute at Columbia University, Ericsson and Millennium Promise. As part of its contributions as chief technology partner for the initiative Ericsson has donated the 50 mobile broadband enabled computers and two video projectors. Tigo, the cell phone service provider that has joined the initiative in Senegal, is providing free Internet service that allows the netbooks to connect to the Internet through Tigo’s mobile phone network.
Connect To Learn implements mobile broadband technology to connect classrooms to a 21st century education by enabling access to vital teaching and learning resources. The computers and connectivity contributed by the program’s technology partners will also allow teachers to improve their skills and knowledge and therefore the quality of secondary education in the schools where they work.
Through funds raised by Connect To Learn from individual and corporate donors, the program has also announced that they will offer multi-year scholarships this year for 90 young women to enroll in these schools. Girls eligible are MVP residents who have achieved academic excellence and whose families are unable to sustainably fund their education at the secondary level.
“Earlier this year when I visited Léona it was an honor to meet with a group of mothers of secondary school age girls who were expressing the importance they placed on their daughters’ education,” said Connect To Learn Executive Director Kara Nichols. “On behalf of Connect To Learn donors and partners I am delighted to be working with the local education officials, headmasters, Millennium Villages Project site team, Ericsson and Tigo to make these investments in enabling access to information, teaching and learning resources for everyone in these schools, and supporting access to secondary schooling for girls in this community. Our goal is to utilize the power of broadband connectivity as a powerful enabler for learning among girls, boys and teachers alike.”
“Increasing the effectiveness of the education system to achieve quality education for all is one of the eight Millennium Development Goals,” said Omar Diouf, Regional Operations Manager for Millennium Promise for West and Central Africa, in his remarks at the launch. “It is also an international commitment made by the Millennium Villages Project as well as the state of Senegal.”
Robert Reading, the Director-General of Ericsson in Senegal, described the company’s ongoing engagement in Senegal, and noted that the Connect To Learn model for bringing technology to schools offers low-cost maintenance, software updates, and virus protection for the computers.
Lamine Sarr, academic inspector for the Ministry of Education in the Louga region, noted the strong results earned by students in the secondary schools in Léona and Potou on the most recent exams, and said he expected the new program would allow the schools to continue to raise the level of academic excellence.
About Connect To Learn
Connect To Learn is a non-profit initiative launched in 2010 by The Earth Institute at Columbia University as scientific advisor, Ericsson as lead ICT partner, and Millennium Promise as
implementing partner. A growing portfolio of other organizations and individuals around the world are now providing vital contributions. Connect To Learn was designed as a public/private partnership to promote access to a 21st Century secondary education for everyone with a special emphasis on girls. The initiative’s gender focus addresses the challenges girls face in completing their education globally, despite the enormous economic and societal benefits gender parity in education enables. Connect To Learn aims to propagate practical solutions to ensure that people worldwide have access to education, providing secondary school scholarships and other support to keep girls in school, and implementing mobile broadband connectivity in the schools they attend to improve access to teaching and learning resources not only for them, but for their teachers and fellow students. By early 2013, Connect To Learn will have enrolled at least 714 adolescents in secondary school on its multi-year scholarships, and will have implemented its cloud computing system for education in at least 25 schools across 10 countries in sub-Saharan Africa - Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Mali, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Tanzania & Uganda - as well as Djibouti, Chile, Brazil and India. For more information, please go to www.connecttolearn.org
About the Millennium Villages Project
The Millennium Villages are proving that by fighting poverty at the village level through community-led development, rural Africa can achieve the Millennium Development Goals—global targets for reducing extreme poverty and hunger by half and improving education, health, gender equality, and environmental sustainability— by 2015, and escape the extreme poverty that traps hundreds of millions of people throughout the continent. Simple solutions such as providing highyield seeds, fertilizers, medicines, drinking wells, and materials to build classrooms and clinics are effectively combating extreme poverty and nourishing communities into a new age of health and opportunity. Improved science and technology such as agroforestry, insecticide-treated bed nets, antiretroviral drugs, the Internet, remote sensing, and geographic information systems enriches this progress. To learn more, please visit www.millenniumvillages.org.
Students in Kristen Ball’s fifth grade class at New Canaan Country School (NCCS) created their very own global classroom on Monday, Sept. 24, connecting through a one-hour video Skype session with students from Ilolangulu School in Mbola, Tanzania, as part of the School-To-School Connections partnership program facilitated by the Connect to Learn initiative at Millennium Promise.
The students sat eagerly on the edge of their chairs as the computer loaded up images of their friends in Tanzania. This is the third time the classrooms have connected over the last year in an ongoing partnership. The topic of Monday’s lesson was “community.” The classes shared their thoughts on the definition of “community” and what it means in each of their countries, taking turns standing up and reading excerpts from prepared essays, asking questions, clapping, laughing and nodding their heads.
They also talked about the similarities and differences in the types of activities that take place in each of their communities. Students in Mbola brought harvesting tools and crops such as maize and groundnuts to show the NCCS students. One student shared her drawing of a cow, a goat and a chicken. The NCCS students showed their sports equipment and asked about sports in Mbola. NCCS student Jeffry Pendo talked about his love of theater and introduced his new friends to his Muppets, holding the characters close to the computer screen so his new friends could get a good look. The classes talked about weather and climate in their regions, and the NCCS students agreed to videotape the first snow of the winter season to share with their friends.
“It was an exchange of friendship, warmth and mutual curiosity that extended school and neighborhood to begin to understand community in terms of the excitement of being together as a global community,” explained Ms. Ball. The two classes will continue their global classroom exchange, connecting via Internet monthly throughout the school year.
663 Connect To Learn Multi-year Scholarships Now in Place with 443 Girl Students Newly Enrolled in Sept/Oct 2012
Connect To Learn in is the process of awarding 443 young students with multi-year secondary school scholarships across seven villages in Ethiopia, Ghana, Malawi, Mali, Nigeria and Senegal thanks to our generous donors. This brings our total number of students supported to 663 – the majority of which are girls. It is a gratifying step forward in our mission to raise funds to enable increased access to a 21st century secondary education for all with a special emphasis on girls.
Education is essential to ending poverty and ensuring a productive life for people all over the world—especially girls. When a girl from a poor village gets a solid education, she is better able to protect her health, make a good living and raise a healthy family—improving her own life and the lives of those around her.
646 of the Connect To Learn scholarships have been awarded to girls, who often face insurmountable challenges to getting into and staying in school beyond primary school.
This round of scholarship awards follows the enrollment of 220 students on Connect To learn secondary school scholarships that were awarded for the 2011/12 and 2012/13 school years in five other Millennium Village Project (MVP) communities where Connect To Learn is also operating, in Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda.
The new scholarships were made possible with funds raised by Connect To Learn from individual and corporate donors, including Spin Master, the Sanchez-Palm Girls Scholarship Fund formed by Pedro Sanchez and Cheryl Palm, Ericsson and their employees, Raising Malawi, and countless generous individuals who have donated through the Connect To Learn web site.
Connect To Learn scholarships cover school expenses such as tuition and books, living expenses where school boarding facilities are available, and Scholar well-being expenses, such as medical and transportation costs to keep the student safe and healthy. Student beneficiaries are selected by a local committee of teachers, community members and Millennium Village Project education sector staff members, and are based on academic performance and a demonstrated commitment to the completion of secondary education by the student and her family. Personal handwritten letters of application from each student candidate are an important part of the committee’s decision-making process.
“Enrollment in school is still only the first step,” says Connect To Learn Executive Director, Kara Nichols. Connect To Learn scholarships encourage girls’ transition from primary school to secondary school, and our technology partners implement broadband connectivity in the schools these students attend to improve access to learning resources for them and all of their fellow students and teachers.
“The quality of learning outcomes among our scholars and their classmates is also addressed with the access to teaching and learning materials we enable through broadband technology investments in their schools. Access to the internet in our rural schools is transformative as a window on the world and as a resource for reading material and classroom resources in core academic subject areas.
"Connect To Learn is driven in part by a goal to help improve the quality of learning outcomes in resource-strapped environments by tapping the power of technology," said Ms. Nichols, a former Silicon Valley professional who is now based at the Earth Institute at Columbia University in New York.
"Connect To Learn enables even schools in remote rural villages to mobilize the Internet to inspire students, improve teaching and learning, and connect children and teachers around the world.
"In addition to our many donors who have made our scholarship program possible, I am deeply grateful to our chief technology partner, Ericsson and other contributing partners such as Airtel and Tigo, who are helping us push the limits of what’s possible in rural schools with wireless broadband services. We’re in fairly early stages still in 8 schools within Millennium Village Project sites in Africa and 13 others globally, but our investments in these classrooms are already transforming the learning environments. It sets a new vision among teachers, parents and students for what is possible in their communities.”
Connect To Learn is a public-private partnership and invites others to join in the global challenge of providing a secondary education for all.
In partnership with mobile phone service operator Entel and the Chilean government, Connect To Learn will bring internet access to schools in a rural community of the Bibio region as part of the Todo Chile Communicado project
Connect To Learn is proud to be involved in the ambitious project Todo Chile Communicado, All Chile Communicating, the government of Chile is rolling out broadband coverage to 1,474 designated rural communities, to an estimated three million people. This will combine with Chile’s existing networks to enable more than 90 percent of the population to access the Internet.
Backed by its longstanding Fondo de Desarrollo las Telecommunicaciones (Telecommunications Development Fund), the government of Chile has made funds available for this purpose and rollout began in 2010. In a public-private partnership, the government is working with operator Entel and Ericsson, to provide the network and coverage across the country’s vast spaces and rugged terrain.
The immediate aim of the project is to improve quality of life for Chile’s rural population. Broadband will open up possibilities for enhanced service provision in essential areas. For example, as part of the initiative, Entel has established educational programs that provide rural schools more than 1,000 km from the capital with equipment and connections, offering pupils improved possibilities and prospects.
Preparations with Entel to introduce Connect To Learn to four schools in the community of Ninhue in the Biobío region began in 2011. It is possible to offer Connect To Learn in this rural part of Chile due to the government of Chile’s project, Todo Chile Communicado.
Connect To Learn’s activities are focused on the Arturo Prat school in the town of Ninhue. This is the main second level school in the area. In collaboration with Entel a Wifi network has been established in the school connected to the Mobile Broadband telecommunications network. 40 netbooks have been supplied which are connected to Connect To Learn’s cloud solution for schools designed and provided by Ericsson. Three rural primary schools in the surrounding area have also been supported through the provision of Wifi networks and netbooks that are also connected to the Mobile Broadband network.
An Ericsson team worked onsite in the schools during May 2012 on behalf of Connect To Learn to launch the ICT solution and support the teachers with basic ICT training.
In January 2012 Connect To Learn launched 5 new scholarship programs across sub-Saharan Africa. 183 scholarships were awarded to girls in the Millennium Villages of Dertu, Kenya; Sauri, Kenya; Mayange, Rwanda; Mbola, Tanzania; and Ruhiira, Uganda.
First term report cards for CTL scholarship recipients show a strong commitment among our students to achieve high marks and demonstrate outstanding academic performance, with a large number of students scoring among the tops of their classes. With secondary school fees and other schooling costs covered by their multi-year Connect To Learn scholarships, these students have a far greater chance of completing their secondary education with flying colors.
According to interviews with their teachers, the students are excelling in part because they can now focus on their studies without worrying about school fees. Furthermore, increased confidence has influenced Connect To Learn scholars to join clubs, participate in class, and develop dreams that include experiences beyond their villages. One student wrote to Connect To Learn stating, “You are aiding me [in] fulfilling my dreams, otherwise I could have been milking cows. I am therefore grateful to you.”
To fulfill the requirement of the scholarship program and our termly reporting processes, students wrote personal letters to Connect To Learn in which they expressed their desires to learn and improve in math, sciences, and language studies. All of these subjects are of ever-increasing importance in the global job market and higher education. They also detailed their aspirations to become doctors, members of Parliament, teachers, surgeons, and even to attend Columbia University. Many of our extraordinary students outlined plans to use their future successes to help their countries and communities. One student wrote, “My ambition is to become one of the members of Parliament in Kenya to help the poor people and my community in large.” Connect To Learn is honored to give such ambitious young women the opportunity to achieve these dreams.
As we continue to receive reports from the field we are reminded of the impact that education has on a person's life and its significance to these girls from rural communities in Africa who may not have been able to attend secondary school without these scholarships. We remember that these funds not only provide school uniforms that make them and their families proud and school fees, but also create dreams and encourage hope for a future life free from extreme poverty.
Connect To Learn is providing a window on the world and access to much-needed educational resources for students and teachers by bringing internet access in schools.
From a remote community in the Amazon to a former violent area in Rio de Janeiro, Connect to Learn is bringing connectivity for the first time to communities in Brazil.
The Suruacá Community in the Amazon is seeing the benefits of having connectivity for the first time. Children in the local school as part of the Connect to Learn project can now access the internet and take in news from all over the world.
The Favella Vila Cruzeiro community in Rio is also seeing the benefits of having connectivity for the first time. Claudia Costin, Municipal Secretary of Education for Rio says that having connectivity in one of the poorest areas means that schools now have help in delivering daily classes for small children. Both communities have recently held a web chat between children in the communities.
So far, connectivity has been brought to over 50 schools in the Amazon.
Said Elaine Weidman, Vice President of Sustainability for Ericsson, "Our
strategy is very much about based around demonstrating the capability for
a government or school to be able to provide educational services far more
efficiently, far more effectively in places that would be nearly
impossible to reach at least in this decade without this type of mobile
Connect To Learn donors' generous contributions combined to now change the lives of hundreds of students through the promise of a secondary education that helps prepare them for a personally and economically-empowered future.
Extending Connect To Learn to five schools in Djibouti, the Earth Institute at Columbia University and Ericsson have joined forces with Djibouti Telecom and the Djibouti Government to expand the global education initiative into the Arab world.
As the first country in the region to launch Connect To Learn, Djibouti will introduce the project as part of the Drylands Initiative, which was initiated to address the deepening humanitarian, economic, and security crisis of pastoralist communities and encompasses eight sites across six countries.
"We are looking forward to start working on getting the project off the ground in Djibouti," said Abdulrahman Mohamed Hassan, Djibouti Telecom Chief Executive Officer. "With Ericsson’s expertise and the strong commitment and involvement of governments at the regional and national level, including a Ministerial-level working group, I’m sure the initiative will successfully bring connectivity to rural communities and help them achieve their educational goals."
The project will focus on bringing the benefits of connectivity to secondary schools in the country using the power of cloud-based technology, specifically PC as a Service. It will also use the knowledge and experience of the Djibouti Government and the Earth Institute to implement information and communications technology (ICT) in three secondary schools in resource poor settings to enhance the quality and access to teaching and learning resources in a safe, cost effective, and user friendly way.
"The Connect To Learn initiative, serves as a powerful demonstration of the role Information and Communication Technology (ICT) can play to bring connectivity and efficiency in education. Reinforcing our commitment to use Technology for good in a Networked Society, this initiative and partnership with Djibouti Telecom enables students in Djibouti to unlock the key to access the worldwide library of information and content on the web" said Anders Lindblad, President and Head of Region Middle East, Ericsson.
Connect To Learn Executive Director, Kara Nichols said “Connect To Learn was launched by the Earth Institute, Millennium Promise (an NGO), and Ericsson in 2010, in response to the challenges and inequalities in access to secondary education globally. The initiative aims to ensure that people worldwide, especially girls, have access to secondary level schooling, quality learning resources and practical 21st Century skills.”
The Connect to Learn partners recognize the transformational role broadband connectivity and other ICT solutions can have in scaling up access to quality education through innovative programs, such as cloud-based curricula and school-to-school connectivity. The initiative also promotes transition to secondary school for those who face extraordinary challenges, especially girls, through scholarships.