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International Publishers Association calls for project proposals to tackle Africa’s remote learning challenges in 2021-2022

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30 million children, according to a UNESCO report, may never return to school.

US$200,000 to be split between best applicants

WED, JUN 17 2020-theG&BJournal- (AMA)/- The International Publishers Association (IPA) will from today accept project proposals to address the damaging impacts of Covid-19 on education in Africa, with grants from the $200,000 Africa Publishing Innovation Fund (APIF) available to the best ideas.

Africa-based entrepreneurs and innovators can pitch their ideas via the APIF website, at www.apinnovation.fund, after which the APIF will provide a detailed application form to be filled and returned to info@apinnovation.fund

After a thorough vetting process, the winners will be selected by the IPA Africa Publishing Innovation Committee, comprising senior publishing leaders from Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Tunisia and South Africa under the leadership of IPA Vice-President, Bodour Al Qasimi.

The APIF is a four-year, USD 800,000 fund provided by Dubai Cares, a UAE-based global philanthropic organization, and administered by the IPA. The decision to incentivize learning innovations to help African students pursue their education follows the unprecedented, near-universal lockdown. Around 190 countries have had to close schools and universities, affecting more than 1.5 billion school-aged children – around 90% of the world’s student population.

Distance learning in Africa faces multiple difficulties, notably poor internet coverage in rural areas, cost, and students’ lack of technical means and funds to follow courses. According to UNESCO, 89 percent of learners in sub-Saharan Africa have no access to a computer, 82 percent have no internet access, and around 56 million learners live outside mobile networks. These challenges create a worrying digital and remote learning gap.

IPA Vice-President, Bodour Al Qasimi, said: ‘The immediate effects of lockdown are clear, but the risks of serious, longer-term harm to education are only beginning to be understood. Covid-19 has taught us that technology can protect people and enable life and learning to continue. But this technology is not accessible to everyone. We are looking for bright minds and clever solutions to overcome these challenges in Africa by bringing learners, teachers and educational materials closer at a safe distance.’

Speaking about the importance of overcoming the challenges that the publishing industry is facing in Africa as a result of COVID-19 outbreak, H.E. Dr. Tariq Al Gurg, Chief Executive Officer at Dubai Cares and Member of its Board of Directors said: “The COVID-19 pandemic could be seen as a tipping point to digital transition in the publishing industry in Africa. This global health crisis also represents an opportunity for African publishers to put forward innovative solutions that will help them map strategies to overcome future challenges. We look forward to witnessing a high turnout among entrepreneurs and innovators in Africa along with their unique solutions and ideas in support of the publishing industry.”

This will be the second round of bursaries awarded under a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed in May 2019 between Dubai Cares, part of Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives, and the International Publishers Association (IPA), the world’s largest trade association for publishers. In 2019, five African projects each won $20,000 from the fund, while a library restoration in Nairobi was allocated $50,000.
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