UNESCO has entered into its first-ever partnership with a private company based in sub-Saharan Africa. The Funds-In-Trust agreement between Airtel Gabon and UNESCO will support Train My Generation: Gabon 5000, a three-year project to provide scientific and entrepreneurial training through ICT to thousands of young people in Gabon, plus deliver new skills to secondary school teachers.
The mobile company will provide $4.3 million for the project, which will be implemented by UNESCO. It will start with the establishment of ten Cyber Centres equipped with servers and computers at schools in Libreville, Port Gentil, Oyem, Franceville, Bitam and Lambaréné.
At the signing ceremony in Paris, the Director-General of UNESCO welcomed the partnership with Airtel, pointing out the potential of such cooperation with African corporations. “The African Private sector is extremely dynamic and I am very proud today to sign UNESCO’s first partnership with a company based in Sub-Saharan Africa,” stated Irina Bokova.
Olivier Herve Njapoum, the Director-General of Airtel Gabon, added that his company was convinced that the youth of Africa will contribute to the development of the continent if they are provided with good training. “Through this partnership, Airtel wishes to benefit from the expertise of one of the most important organizations of the United Nations System […], UNESCO, whose programmes in Africa contribute to the promotion of innovation based on knowledge technologies,” he said.
The Ambassador of Gabon, Gisèle Marie Hortense Ossakedjombo-Ngoua Memiaghe, welcomed the partnership with enthusiasm, invoking “studies that prove that there is a cause and effect link between the development of telecommunications and economic development.”
5,000 young people, aged 18 to 35, will receive basic ICT training during the first phase of the project, which will also provide training in online teaching to 100 secondary education science teachers. The teachers will use their skills to provide online educational support to 15,000 secondary school students preparing their end of school exams. But because the platform used for educational support will be easily accessible, scholastic support is expected to reach a far greater number of students.
Smaller groups will be taught how to develop applications for mobile phones, operate cyber cafés and set up cooperative maintenance centres, through the Train My Generation: Gabon 5000 project.
Roni Amelan, UNESCO Press Service,
r.amelan(at)unesco.org +33 (0)1 45 68 16 50