Africa Defense Forum
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Free Tablets Help Malawian Students Learn Remotely

VOICE OF AMERICA

Students in Malawi were out of school for six months because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Although most were able to study from home with internet or radio lessons, many in remote villages were left out. 

Voluntary Services Overseas (VSO), an international development organization, and partner One Billion helped bridge the gap by distributing 1,000 solar-powered tablet computers with programmed lessons to rural primary school students. All content is in Malawi’s main language, Chichewa, and helps students improve reading, writing and math. 

Parents say the donation eased education worries during the school closure. 

“I lost hope, but with the coming of these [tablets], we are very happy because now my children have something to do,” said parent Olive Makison. “They have stopped playing around. They are now learning. This will improve their education.”

“What happens is that the moment that the learners start using them, there is what we call ‘diagnostic tools’ that place the kid at a right curriculum depending on his or her levels, so the kid starts learning from there,” said Yesani Kapanda, VSO program manager. 

Students’ progress was monitored remotely. 

“We have put a SIM card in those tablets, and we are able to monitor what is happening,” Kapanda said. “If the learners are not using them, we are able to identify such households.”

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