UNESCO partners with Spacecom to bring digital learning to rural schools in Côte d’Ivoire09.02.2023
Spacecom’s satellite and solar-powered solution
On a late September day in the remote Ivorian village of Kébi, villagers gather around the small local school to celebrate the arrival of digital learning and connectivity. Before this, the small village had no functioning network or electrical infrastructure, preventing the 250 students and staff of the Collège Moderne de Kébi from leveraging digital technology in education. Now, thanks to a tripartite project under UNESCO in partnership with Spacecom as the lead contributor from the Global Education Coalition for this project, a full connectivity and electricity kit has transformed the village school. With newly acquired solar power, satellite connectivity, and Spacecom’s Digital Community Platform, which includes local server, storage and cloud, media devices, and outdoor and indoor Wi-Fi, students and staff can access educational materials from the multi-media classroom. “The connection speed is good, it’s not too slow,” said a teacher from Bagoué Region. “This project will enable us to move faster and will allow our teachers to be able to work with these resources for the success of the school.”
Kébi is the smallest of three schools receiving a digital upgrade from this sustainable education project. Lycée Moderne in the town of Boundiali and Lycée Moderne BAD in the capital city of Yamoussoukro together serve over 5,500 students aged 11 to 24. Spacecom and its local partner DATA Connect installed a local ICT infrastructure at each of the schools to provide broadband connectivity over satellite and the Digital Community Platform tailored for Côte d’Ivoire’s Ministry of National Education and Literacy needs. This platform has scalable building blocks such as a storage, a local cloud, solar power and Wi-Fi access points to allow access to digital services for government, education, health, media, and agriculture.
“Like all projects, the involvement of beneficiaries is a guarantee of success and sustainability, hence the importance of stakeholder collaboration,” said Yenataban Kone, Director of the Directorate of Technology and Information Systems of the Ministry of Côte D’Ivoire. “As for connectivity, this project has revived one of the pilot schools which was without electricity before the project. With this project, not only is the school electrified but also connected to the internet, which shows the inclusive aspect of this project.”
Spacecom’s satellite and solar-powered solution
At each of the schools, Spacecom’s DCP and satellite solution allows for both online and offline learning, meaning that education can continue even without internet. With the Digital Community Platform, the door is open for progress monitoring, the administering of national examinations, online professional development and teacher training. At the Kébi school, Spacecom’s complete solar power system solves the problem of electricity in this off-grid community, creating a financially and environmentally sustainable e-education service. The desktop computers at Kébi, procured through a partnership project with UNESCO, were installed in a multi-media room, and thin clients for the Boundiali Modern High School and the Yamoussoukro Modern High School were purchased as part of a partnership project with Huawei.
The power of multistakeholder partnerships
Collaborative partnerships have fueled the success of this digital transformation project at every step, from initial agreement, delivery and installation of equipment, to organizing teacher and school leader trainings. In weekly meetings since June 2022, representatives from the Ministry of National Education and Literacy of the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire, Spacecom as a member of the Global Education Coalition, UNESCO Headquarters in Paris and UNESCO Abidjan have met to provide updates on progress, needs, and next steps.
“Spacecom is committed to supporting UNESCO in delivering high-quality digital education to sub-Saharan communities via the Global Education Coalition, using Spacecom’s innovative Digital Community Platform,” said Eran Shapiro, Senior Director of Technology and Product at Spacecom. “This project demonstrates how Public-Private Partnerships can make a real impact for the benefit of large-scale population, by providing meaningful, affordable and sustainable digital services to underserved and rural communities.”
These weekly meetings allowed for adaptive problem solving. When the ministry’s digital curriculum materials were delayed, UNESCO initiated the transfer of six-hundred educational videos from the e-learning platform Imaginécole to be locally accessible at the Digital Community Platform of each school. Itself a partnership between UNESCO, the government of France, and the EdTech company Maskott, Imaginécole is a regional e-learning platform designed for eleven francophone countries in Africa during the pandemic. Its use in the Spacecom 2022-2023 project is an example of how pandemic-era resources can gain new purpose beyond crisis scenarios as harbingers of educational opportunity and support local governments and the UN SDGs.
Training on digital teaching and learning
It is one thing to have access to these new digital resources, and it is another to be able to embed them fluidly and effectively into a teaching practice. With help from a pedagogical expert on Imaginécole, the tripartite team organized two online training sessions: the first in November for school leaders and the second in December for teachers from all three schools. A third is planned for the first month of 2023 to ensure all staff feel confident about how to navigate the Digital Community Platform, choose which videos could be useful to their curriculum, and engage in simple to increasingly complicated digital activities.
Scaling up for system transformation
For this project to be an example of true digital transformation, it would need a lifespan well beyond the planned pilot period of the 2022-2023 school year. Following the next training session in the new year, the tripartite team will continue working together toward a sustainable use of this innovative e-learning solution to the interests of the Ministry of Côte d’Ivoire. The Department of Technologies and Information Systems of the Ministry will continue to monitor the use of Spacecom’s Digital Community Platform in these three schools and will regularly collect feedback from teachers and students to improve its effectiveness and maximize its impact.