Facebook Bringing Online Courses to Rwanda With Affordable Nokia Smartphones

internet  dot orgFacebook’s pilot program, SocialEDU, is on a mission to bring education to young students in Rwanda. The online education program is a joint partnership between the Rwandan government, Airtel telecom company, Nokia mobile company, online education provider edX, and Facebook.

Based on the success of MOOCs (Massice Open Online Courses), the joint venture is an extension of the Internet.org’s mission to bring the internet to the two thirds of the world’s population that does not have digital access. The MOOC-list is a huge database where students can find open-access courses available online. They are free, but do not come with course credits. It’s unclear how extensive the SocialEDU program will encompass and whether the classes will be substantial enough to count as course credits towards eventual graduation. MOOCs courses often suffer from low completion statistics.

Facebook’s pilot brings free data to Rwandan students for one, but will require a Facebook account.


In this program, edX (edx.org) will work with Facebook to create a social educational experience by building a mobile app that is integrated with Facebook. Airtel will provide free education data for everyone in Rwanda who participates in the program for one year, while Nokia will pitch in with affordable smartphones that will improve the quality and ease of Internet access. To bring device prices down further, the Government of Rwanda will support innovative financing mechanisms, such as interest rate subsidies, micro-loan guarantees, trade-in rebates, and targeted use of its Universal Service Fund. The Government will also expand its Smart Kigali program to provide free wi-fi in campuses throughout the country, enabling students to access high-quality multimedia educational content. Furthermore, the Government will work with edX to adapt course materials for local students. Airtel will lead operations for the phone trade-in program.