IPA invites African innovators to solve remote learning challenges amid COVID-19 pandemic outbreak
Geneva, 04 May 2020 – The International Publishers Association (IPA) is offering financial support for African publishing entrepreneurs to overcome the staggering impact of COVID-19 pandemic on education in 2020 and beyond.
Under a four-year USD 800,000 fund administered by the IPA in partnership with Dubai Cares, the UAE-based global philanthropic organization, the grants for 2020 will be directed towards locally-owned, digital learning innovations to help African students continue their education.
This narrowed focus seeks to address the overnight predominance of homeschooling and remote learning amid the pandemic which, according to UNESCO, has forced 190 countries to close down schools and universities, affecting more than 1.5 billion school-aged children and youth, which represent around 90% of the world’s student population.
The winners will be selected by the IPA Africa Publishing Innovation Committee, comprising senior publishing leaders from Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Tunisia and South Africa*. The group is chaired by IPA Vice-President, Sheikha Bodour Al Qasimi, who said:
‘The COVID-19 pandemic has sent young learners and parents scrambling to find workable remote learning solutions with little guidance or support. It is critical that students don’t get left behind, especially in African countries where infrastructure and technological challenges are greatest. With the Africa Publishing Innovation Fund the IPA has an opportunity to help improve this picture, by enabling local innovators to provide learning solutions that African schoolchildren and university students need.’
Commenting on the correlation between the publishing industry and education at the current challenging times, Dr. Tariq Al Gurg, Chief Executive Officer at Dubai Cares and Member of its Board of Directors said:
‘The publishing industry plays a pivotal role in education throughout the world, and in such challenging times where COVID-19 has heavily affected education, this role will be eroded if we do not put forward innovative solutions that provide easy access to learning resources. As an organization that focuses on providing access to quality education, we believe we have a critical role to play in ensuring equitable access to distance learning and the necessary resources for all children and youth in the world, especially during emergencies and crises. Through our support to IPA’s Africa Publishing Innovation Fund, we seek to encourage entrepreneurs to develop innovative techniques to help students and teachers connect to information reliably and equitably, so learning and teaching practices are transformed because of COVID-19 academic institutions closures.’
The Committee will issue a formal call for applications on 1 June 2020. It will subject applicants to a rigorous vetting process involving a written application, in-person interviews, presentations and multiple feedback sessions. The number of grantees and amounts awarded are at the discretion of the Committee. These will be the second 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 was allocated $50,000. Currently, half of these awards have been paid, with the remaining funds to be released when the pandemic is over.
*The IPA Africa Publishing Innovation Committee members are:
Akoss Ofori-Mensah (Ghana)
Managing Director, Sub-Saharan Publishers ; Member of the Council of Management of African Books Collective, Oxford, UK.
Brian Wafawarowa (South Africa)
Chief Content and Product Officer at Juta and Company (Pty) Ltd, Chair of the IPA Inclusive Publishing and Literacy Committee
Gbadega Adedapo (Nigeria)
President, Nigerian Publishers Association ; Chairman of Nigeria Book Fair Trust ; CEO Rasmed Publications Limited.
Lawrence Njagi (Kenya)
Chairman, Kenya Publishers Association; Founder and Managing Director, Mountain Top Publishers (Kenya); Treasurer and board member, African Publishers Network (APNET).
Mohamed Salah Maalej (Tunisia)
General coordinator of Tunisia’s International Book Fair ; President of the Arab and International Exhibitions Committee in the Arab Publishers Association; CEO of Kounouz Publishing.