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South African children to benefit as BT launches £1.5million global development partnership with UNICEF

UNICEF/South Africa/Hearfield
© UNICEF/South Africa/Hearfield
Young techies: BT Regional Diector Brian Armstrong meets young children over a laptop during a field visit to a school Kwa Zulu Natal.

Investing in children’s community projects in South Africa, Brazil and China

3 April 2007 - BT today launched a three-year global development partnership with UNICEF which will include investing around 20 million Rands into bringing education, technology and communications skills to children from poor socio-economic backgrounds in South Africa, Brazil and China.

In the first year, the BT and UNICEF partnership will reach over 18,000 children in some of the most under-served communities in South Africa.

In 2007/08, the project will focus on rural and semi-rural areas in line with the country’s educational priorities to enhance the quality of basic education for all of the children in the programme.  Focusing on communities in two of the most economically disadvantaged South African provinces within KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape, a total of 25 schools have been selected to receive assistance from this initiative.

In addition to installing 250 computers, BT’s investment will help renovate schools and build additional classrooms and state-of-the-art computer labs.  In creating these new facilities, BT hopes to provide students with practical ICT skills that will assist in their future economic independence and ultimately help them become skilled members of the workforce.

In order to ensure that children in the future continue to benefit, 150 head teachers and administrators will also be trained in effective school management and leadership skills, while a research study into the impact of the programme will also be undertaken. 

The primary focus of the partnership will be on creating a secure and productive learning environment, especially for girls. They will be mentored, coached and trained in communication, technology and science and gain skills in areas, which they are not well represented.  As mothers of the next generation, with families to sustain, they will be responsible for ensuring that their children receive an education.

UNICEF/South Africa/Hearfield
© UNICEF/South Africa/ Hearfield
BT Regional Diector Brian Armstrong joins young learners in their classroom during a field visit to a school Kwa Zulu Natal.

François Barrault, President BT International, who launched the project today said:  “Those of us who have grown up with technology often take it for granted.  By teaming up with UNICEF and supporting the South African Government’s educational priorities, we hope to bring the benefits and opportunities of technology to children and young people in some of the country’s most  remote and poorly resourced communities.”

Guests of honour who were in attendance for the launch of the partnership held at the Melrose Hotel in Johannesburg, included, Mr Mohamed Enver Surty, deputy minister of Education of the Republic of South Africa, Mndebele Mbanene, a 16 year old pupil at  the Mantshinga Combined School in the KwaZulu Natal region.

Macharia Kamau, UNICEF South Africa representative said: “This initiative will bring South Africa a step closer towards meeting the Millennium Development Goal 2 - agreed to by all the world’s countries - of ensuring that all boys and girls complete a full course of primary schooling by 2015.  Investing in schools and teachers will provide children with a higher quality learning environment and encourage them to stay in class.”

François Barrault added:  “For BT it is crucial that we make a positive and sustainable difference to the communities in which we operate.  This partnership enables us to help UNICEF develop the skills of both learners and educators at a very local level and ultimately to improve the futures of children around the world.”



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