USIU-Africa partners with Safaricom, Telkom to provide subsidized e-learning tariffs to students and faculty

By Taigu Muchiri and Brenda Odhiambo

Following the government directive to close schools, colleges and universities, USIU-Africa made the decision to continue its core business of teaching and learning according to the University’s business continuity plan. To ensure that the process was as seamless as possible, the University partnered with Safaricom and Telkom to provide students with subsidized mobile data bundles to enhance e-learning and teaching.

Safaricom’ s offering, called the ‘Remote learning Mobile Data Bundle Subsidy’, will see students and faculty get a 10GB data bundle at a discounted cost of Ksh. 500 for a period of 30 days to enhance their access to e-learning platforms. The same data bundle costs Ksh. 1,800 in the market. In addition, students and faculty who may have challenges accessing a device will also have an option to procure one through this service on Safaricom’s e-commerce platform, Masoko.

For Telkom subscribers, the ‘Soma na Telkom Bundles’ will allow both faculty and students to purchase data bundles at a subsidized rate to access the University’s online learning platforms such as Blackboard, the library video conferencing and the Student Information System. Subscribers can purchase a 30 GB bundle at Kshs. 999, by dialing *544# on a Telkom line. The bundle is valid for 30 days in addition to providing users with a flexible, customized solution, convenient connectivity, value for money, and helps users manage their data spending.

Since the outbreak of highly infectious Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) in the country, institutions of higher learning have been forced to fully embrace e-learning and teaching solutions as part of the measures being taken to curb the spread of the disease through social distancing as the country closely monitors the evolving dynamics of the pandemic and its impact on the country.

“As you are aware, we have been conducting online learning and teaching over the last three weeks in a bid to complete the spring semester. This was as a result of the government’s directive to close all universities in order to stop the spread of COVID-19 after Kenya reported its first case last month”, explained Prof. Paul Zeleza, Vice Chancellor, USIU-Africa.

The Vice Chancellor however, said despite the closure of the university, learning is still going on through the use of online learning platforms such as Blackboard as a mode of instruction, Zoom as a video conferencing tool and e-books, e-journals and other e-resources from the library to ensure academic continuity and maintain quality of education.

“I am pleased that we were able to successfully complete the Spring semester online, including the end of term examinations for students. We are now in the final stages of preparing for the Summer Semester, and we look forward how best we can continue supporting our students,” he added.

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