Liverpool FC footballer Mo Salah was introduced as Ambassador to a packed crowd of Vodafone employees in London and joined via video-link at the event by sports-mad refugees and students in Kenya’s Kakuma refugee camp.
“Being an ambassador for this project makes me proud,” Salah told the audience. “Education gives you a much better chance in life. Once you have that, no one can take it from you.”
The Instant Network Schools progamme was set up in 2013 as a partnership between Vodafone Foundation and UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency. It aims to give a quality education to 500,000 refugee and host country students by 2025. This year 20 new Instant Network Schools will be launched as the programme prepares to enter Egypt for the first time.
The questions Salah received from refugees in Kakuma became a highlight of the event.
“The Instant Networks School programme has helped us to see and nurture the talents we have as refugees, that as refugees we can do more than is expected of us, to know the world we have never seen,” said Nyigok, an Instant Network School student in Kakuma.
“The tablets are increasing the number of girls who are learning and who never knew they were good at football,” she said.
Salah had his own advice for the his fans in Kakuma: “Work to get what you want, so if you really have a dream, if you really have something you have passion about it, you just need to work hard, to keep believe in it and to visualize it in your head, many times and then you will achieve it.”
“You inspire hope,” said Dominique Hyde, Director of the Division of External Relations at UNHCR. “Across the Middle East and Africa, you inspire so many children who have lost hope and need to be believing they can do so much.”
“There are over 7 million refugee children around the world that should be in school, but only 50% have access to education,” said Hyde. Along with its partners UNHCR hopes to greatly improve that figure. “We are so incredibly proud of our partnership with Vodafone Foundation.”
Overall, more than 86,500 students and 1,000 teachers have benefitted from the programme. To date Instant Network Schools operate across eight refugee camps in Kenya, Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan. As Ambassador, Salah will visit some of the schools to promote the importance of education for refugees.
The programme works through a digital ‘school in a box’ instant classroom, which includes 25 laptops, 4G Wi-Fi, a solar charging point, a laptop for each teacher and a projector – so that classes can quickly benefit from digital resources.
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