…rollout of Beekee Hub backed by University of Geneva and InZone…
11 May 2021 - The first trial of a new digital learning programme for young adults has now gone live in the Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya which is run by the UNHCR, and home to around 200,000 people.
Many of the young adults living in the camp have had their education interrupted which, of course, impacts upon their economic future and life chances.
The UN High Commission For Refugees says that globally only 3% of young adult refugees are in Higher Education, however, this figure drops to 1% in African refugee camps. (Globally 77% of displaced children of primary school are in education and 31% for secondary school age.)
Meanwhile in its 2020 report Trends in Adult Learning and Education in Africa, the UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning (UIL) stresses the need for African countries, and the international community, to do more to enhance participation in adult learning and education as it believes this is pivotal in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.
Schools within Kakuma Refugee camp are already oversubscribed with children aged 16 and below. To help young adults continue with their education, a new device called a Beekee Hub has been installed.
The Beekee Hub has been developed by the Geneva-based startup Beekee, an EdTech spin-off of the University of Geneva (Switzerland, specifically for use in emergency settings where student numbers far exceed the number of available schools and teachers.
The Beekee Hub trial for adults in Kakuma is led by Beekee and InZone, the latter providing higher education in communities affected by conflict and crisis in the Horn of Africa and Middle East.
The Beekee Hub is a semi-nomadic device which creates a wireless network so that students can access content inside the Hub from the browser of their own smart feature phones, smartphones, laptops and tablets. The Hub acts as a last-mile relay and connects to the Internet on-demand to download new material and to synchronize learning and enable access to collaboration tools such as Beekee Live.
The Beekee Hub differentiator is that content is always accessible within the device; and it is easy for children, teachers and adults to access.
Unreliable bandwidth and patchy connectivity are problems encountered by digital education - and health - programmes operational across Africa, Asia and South America. Indeed, many well-meaning digital education programs have failed because of connectivity issues.
Telecom26’s Multi-IMSI global SIM cards were developed with the specific goal of improving connectivity in remote areas. They enable devices to automatically access and switch between multiple networks both in-country and across borders thus removing the need to worry about the coverage of a single MNO, or the existence of roaming alliances.
Telecom26 has donated Global SIM cards for use by the Beekee Boxes during the Kakuma Refugee Camp trial. When new educational material is ready, the Beekee team transmit it direct to the hub.
Dr. Sergio Estupiñán, Co-Founder of Beekee said “Throughout Beekee Hub’s development stage, we were always concerned about connectivity and being tied into the service of one operator. If, and when, the operator’s network went down or they decided to stop offering coverage in an area, then we’d have to source and install new SIMs.
By using Telecom26’s SIMs we have completely eliminated this problem. Telecom26’s Global SIMs give us an incredible trust and peace of mind”.
Telecom26 provides connectivity to digital health and education programmes in some of the most remote places in the world. Its Global SIMs are compatible with 1100 cellular networks from over 620 mobile operators in more than 220 countries. It has also developed a multi-SIM router which enables connectivity to the best performing network available - cellular, wifi or satellite.
Robert Koldys, VP Marketing & Business Development of Telecom26, said “Beekee is a brilliant educational tool precisely because students don’t need to be connected to the internet to access content. However, when the Beekee Hub does need connectivity, we are delighted to donate our SIM cards and connectivity service so that Beekee’s capabilities can be shared with children and young adults who are keen to learn”.
Thierry Agagliate, executive director of InZone, said “We are focused on providing higher education for refugees who want and need to keep learning. We adopt innovative, flexible approaches that take account of the humanitarian context and use the available experience, knowledge and technologies to rollout education projects that will deliver results. The trial of the Beekee Hub to help young adult refugees back into education is an important project for education providers across Africa and other emerging countries.”