Unpacking the Mobi-Case: UNICEF’s Digital School-in-a-Box

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Mobi-Case demonstrationIn Uganda, four out of every ten students will drop out before completing primary school due to time and financial constraints, and the average teacher will miss at least two days of work each week. Education infrastructure is also limited and fails to keep up with the country’s considerable child population. These issues, while particularly severe in Uganda, are common throughout the Global South. In an effort to provide quality education that works within these limitations, UNICEF has developed the Mobi-Case, a school kit equipped with the digital tools needed to set up an ad hoc classroom anywhere.

The Mobi-Case contains a solar-powered laptop with internet connectivity, projector, speaker, document scanner and is pre-programmed with free, educational content. Currently, UNICEF is piloting the initiative in Uganda and plans to set up 60 digital schools each serving 100 to 200 students from marginalized groups. The Mobi-Case is an upgraded version of the MobiStation, a digital school in a box technology platform designed to help Uganda achieve universal primary education.

School in a BoxInitial field tests are expected to be completed by the end of 2014. The Mobi-Case is being tested across several sectors including education, health and child protection, and across a variety of locations including under-resourced rural primary schools and refugee camps. The digital school kits are also being piloted in conjunction with UNICEF’s RapidFTR application to facilitate post-emergency family reunification (read more on that).

This versatility is what makes the Mobi-Case such a valuable and scalable tool; not only does it address many of the logistical, financial and infrastructural constraints on rural education systems, it can be applied to many different contexts including health services, public service announcements and, in particular, emergency relief. Currently, education is often put on the back-burner to more critical issues in post-emergency settings. UNICEF uses ‘School-in-a-Box’ kits as part of its standard emergency response, but each contains basic supplies and teaching aides capable of serving only 40 students. The Mobi-Case digital classroom would allow for rapid, quality education delivery in hard-to-reach areas on a much larger scale.

The Mobi-Case is currently being produced by Chinese company HongHe for roughly $200 but UNICEF is looking to manufacture the kits locally in Uganda. Assuming the pilot tests are successful, UNICEF aims to mass produce these digital schools in Uganda and may expand the initiative throughout East Africa.

For more information on the Mobi-Case, check out this article from Wired Magazine or visit UNICEF’s Stories of Innovation blog.

To learn more about UNICEF’s work in Uganda, check out the video below.

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Courtney Mollenhauer

Courtney Mollenhauer

Courtney is a writer and development professional based in Toronto, Canada.

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