Can the cloud help educate girls in Africa?

Thanks to advances and innovations in digital technology, people have new ways to order a taxi, to reserve a room in someone’s home, and even to secure individuals’ personal data.

As the benefits of the cloud are impacting far-reaching fields such as pharmaceuticals, cloud based platforms – and in particular, cloud communications platforms – are actively and profoundly impacting areas outside of the business world.

A common perception is that nonprofit organisations lag behind the times in terms of technology adoption – but in many cases, this couldn’t be further from the truth.

For many of these organisations, off-the-shelf solutions can’t meet their requirements, and as a result, more and more nonprofits are inventing ways to deploy and specifically tailor cloud technology to their needs.

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Camfed is one such company. Its mission is clear: to help alleviate worldwide poverty through a campaign to educate girls in rural Africa, with an ethos that all of its work begins with an individual girl.

To achieve this goal, Camfed strives to ensure that every one of the 2.5 million individuals it has helped in the last 23 years receives the utmost care and attention. But, as any successful organisation will attest, growth brings a need to scale to keep pace with demand.

As part of the ongoing objective to help girls in areas like Zimbabwe, Ghana, Tanzania, Malawi and Zambia to attend schools, the number of students Camfed helps annually jumped from 30,000 to 120,000 in a single year.

With such a significant growth in a short period of time, Camfed has had to fundamentally rethink the way it handles the transfer and organisation of information between head office and local community teams.

Camfed invests in the individual student, but to build trust (a crucial element of nonprofit work), Camfed must maintain transparency and accountability among the teachers, parents and the local communities where these students live.

>See also: Why cloud, mobile and the education sector make a perfect match

Using cloud communications technology, developers at Camfed have created a simple, yet ingenious, way of keeping track of projects.

Via SMS, the organisation can now track the progress of an individual in previously unimaginable detail, and local teams can share valuable information quickly and easily.

For example, if a student fails to attend school, the Camfed system provides all the relevant parties the necessary information and guidance to address the absence, efficiently and in real time.

Through SMS-delivered surveys, Camfed can now communicate regularly with teachers to confirm a student’s attendance and receive insight on that student’s performance.

The cloud communications technology makes these interactions more efficient by automatically generating conversation elements, such as a response thanking them for their feedback.

>See also: Where does machine learning fit in the education sector?

More importantly, it helps Camfed understand and identify whenever an individual might be missing school or dropping in performance.

Where initially Camfed struggled to keep its SMS data organised, cloud communications technology has allowed it to better support its students and its 140,000 community activist volunteers.

The organisation now presents this data to schools, donors and communities to help justify funding allocation, as well as the work the charity has been doing.

With accurate data and real-time cloud communications, Camfed can work more closely with the community than ever before and continue to focus on its mission – educating the individual girl.
Sourced by Erin Reilly, VP of social impact and GM of

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Nick Ismail

Nick Ismail is a former editor for Information Age (from 2018 to 2022) before moving on to become Global Head of Brand Journalism at HCLTech. He has a particular interest in smart technologies, AI and...

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