Huawei partners with UNESCO to drive global digital literacy through tech

By Huawei

At the Huawei Digital Talent Summit held in Barcelona, Spain on 26 February, the ICT provider announced a new partnership with UNESCO to promote global digital literacy and shared their upskilling initiatives for youths worldwide.

Featured image: The Huawei Digital Talent Summit held on 26 Feb gathered ICT leaders and global literacy experts to speak on the importance of digital upskilling for youths worldwide. Image: Huawei

“In the real world, success is not guaranteed,” said Vicky Zhang, Vice President of Corporate Communications at Huawei. “Getting the right education is often the key to success.”


It is with this in mind that Huawei partnered with the UNESCO Institute of Lifelong Learning (UIL) to organise a Digital Talent Summit on 26 February, as part of the lead-up to the Mobile World Congress 2023. At this summit, leaders from the ICT industry joined global literacy experts to speak on the importance of digital upskilling and the different initiatives driving this.


During the event, Huawei also announced that they were partnering with the UIL to drive global digital literacy by joining UNESCO’s Global Alliance for Literacy (GAL). The alliance strives to improve the digital skills of 100,000 literacy educators and enable them to continue benefiting others.


The partnership will see Huawei joining the GAL as an associate member, making it the first private sector representative to do so. The ICT provider will also be funding the expansion of UIL’s current initiatives to enhance educators’ use of technology in other developing countries.


“As a major player in the technology sector, Huawei feels we have the responsibility to provide technology skills to all parts of the world and try our best to include as many people as possible,” Zhang said during the Summit. “This way, the benefits of digitalisation will be better shared.”


“Our rapidly changing world calls for concerted efforts and strong partnerships to promote young talents to achieve quality education and lifelong learning for all,” added David Atchoarena, Director of the UIL. 


“Collaborative projects like ours will ensure that no one is left behind on this journey.”  


The partnership between Huawei and UNESCO's Global Alliance for Literacy will promote digital upskilling for literacy educators in developing countries. Image: Huawei

Driving global digital literacy


Over 750 million individuals today lack basic numeracy and literacy skills, according to Atchoarena. But technology may help to bridge this gap. 


“Technology is used to give access to education, to knowledge, to information,” he said. Namely, he highlighted that technology is a key lever in the achievement of the fourth United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal, which aims to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all. 


“Digital innovations have transformed education by increasing access…and enhancing the inclusiveness of learning for those who need it the most,” he added. 


For example, Atchoarena highlighted how digital technologies helped to guarantee continuity of learning for millions of children, youth and seniors during the pandemic by providing online learning opportunities. 


“Identifying and supporting digital channels is important since they can actually contribute to bclosing the digital gap by harnessing the opportunities offered by new and smart technologies,” he said.


This is why promoting the effective use of technologies is a key part of UNESCO’s work in driving global literacy. To this end, the GAL has so far helped educators in four countries - Bangladesh, Côte d'Ivoire, Egypt and Nigeria - improve their digital knowhow.


“Following this successful experience, we are looking forward to extending the initiative to more countries with [the support of Huawei],” announced Atchoarena during the conference. 


Promoting equality


“Technology plays a very important role in our life. Yet, too many people don't use technology, either because they don't have the skills or don't have access to devices,” said Zhang. “We try to break this digital divide by offering some basic tech training to people of all ages and genders.”


Among these initiatives is the Digital Bus, a mobile classroom that brings basic ICT technologies to communities. In Thailand, the bus is used to train young children and doctors in rural areas on using these technologies. Meanwhile in France, a similar bus trains the elderly on how to use ICT technologies that can make their lives easier.


Another initiative Zhang shared about was Huawei’s Tech for Women programme. Under the programme, Huawei worked with non-profit Rebecca Foundation in Ghana to provide ICT training to 100,000 female students. Since the programme started two years back, almost 70,000 women have already benefited. 


Nurturing youths to use tech for good


Huawei’s global ICT talent programme has, by the end of 2022, already benefited more than 2.2 million people across 150 countries, Zhang shared during the conference. Moving forward, the tech giant has committed US$150 million to fund digital talent development programmes by 2026. 


As part of this, Huawei will be expanding their Seeds talent framework, which includes the Seeds for the Future programme. This programme gathers young global talents from top universities across the world to explore advanced ICT solutions, work in cross-cultural teams and hone their leadership and communication skills. 


Another key initiative is the Tech4City Competition in Singapore, which brings together youths to propose innovative solutions using digital technology that can help build a sustainable and liveable Singapore. The 2022 iteration of the competition brought together 141 teams comprising 368 youths across the nation's Institutes of Higher Learning. 


These participants are given access to Huawei’s technologies to support their solutions, as well as training opportunities by experts. 


These training programmes were particularly valuable for Teo Rui Fang, a business student from the National University of Singapore and one of the winners of the Tech4City 2022 competition. She explained that participants in the programme were able to attend various workshops, such as learning how to pitch. 


“It's not just joining a competition and winning something,” she says. “It's giving us the opportunity [to learn],” she says. 


Huawei will be hosting this year’s Tech4City Competition starting from end-March 2023.