Tanzania: Innovative Use of Technology to Keep Girls in School

Google announced its support of a groundbreaking initiative to empower girls and young women in Tanzania by merging education and technological innovation. The Google grant will provide 2,500 girls with a comprehensive high school scholarship that will cover all school essentials for one year — including school fees, uniforms, books, and school supplies.

The grant will also fund an innovative use of mobile technology — education data will be collected by communities far from urban centers using cell phones. The data will be uploaded directly onto Camfed’s program database. This system has many advantages over paper-based systems — it is more up-to-date, more accurate, and more exciting.

Rural communities come to understand the power of data because it can be acted upon with new urgency. If, for example, a child has not been in school for a few days, her absence will be reported immediately and Camfed staff in Tanzania will be able to respond rapidly, while there is still time to find a solution.

“Google’s support of a community-run digital monitoring system will markedly increase the impact Camfed makes on the lives of girls and young women,” said Ann Cotton, founder and Executive Director of Camfed International. “It will strengthen the social safety net around schoolgirls, and it will promote ownership and buy-in from community members, which are vital to a sustainable program.”

By training young women in rural Africa to use mobile devices to monitor education programs, Camfed is creating a global platform for communities who have historically been excluded from technology.

“In Africa, technology is enabling women to leapfrog the gender divide, challenging perceptions about women and machines,” said Ann Cotton. “Africa has revolutionized mobile phone technology. This initiative will open a door for African women to apply their ingenuity and creativity to that technology to improve life for the most vulnerable children in their communities.”

Camfed fights poverty and AIDS in Africa through educating girls and empowering young women as leaders of change. Since 1993, 1,451,600 children in some of the poorest rural districts of Ghana, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Malawi and Zambia have benefited from Camfed’s programs.

Source: CSR Africa.Net – 15 Dec 2011