As schools remain closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the  United Nations International Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the government of Somalia’s Puntland region have launched a digital remote learning platform that will enable children to keep up with their studies at home.

The so-called learning passport is a ground-breaking partnership between UNICEF, American multinational technology company Microsoft and the University of Cambridge.

“Puntland is leading the way in Africa in adopting the learning passport,” Puntland minister of education and higher education Abdullahi Mohamed Hassan said in a statement posted online.

File picture: African News Agency (ANA)

“Children will be able to access high quality lessons in line with the official curriculum and not become the hidden victims of the Covid-19 crisis by missing out on an education.”

According to the department, in the initial stage of the rollout, over 11,000 children, almost half of them girls, were able to access over 600 recorded lessons and videos for Grade 8 students, with 12 subjects  already uploaded. The platform can be accessed via a computer or a mobile application.

More lessons are development and will be uploaded onto the platform.

Teachers are able to monitor student’s progress and parents can also access learning materials so they can play a critical role in supporting their children’s education. 

“The learning passport is a change maker when it comes to remote learning,” said UNICEF Somalia chief of education Phuong T. Nguyen.

File picture: Jacques Naude/African News Agency (ANA)

“In any emergency, maintaining a child’s education is critical to provide a sense of security and routine and keep children safe. As a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, school closures were a necessary measure but due to today’s technology, this did not mean their education had to stop.”

The education department said even when schools opened, the learning portal would continue to support children beyond their daily school routine.

It would also be made available for the most vulnerable children who are internally displaced and have no access to learning centres or other remote educational opportunities.

-ANA, Editing by Stella Mapenzauswa