Updated: Nov 13, 2020
The equality in sport charity; equitysport has launched a project to provide text message education courses for sporting communities with no or limited access to the internet in sub-Saharan Africa.
The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the rate in which everyday learning is migrating to virtual experiences, but for those without the infrastructure to support bandwidth-sapping webinars or e-learning courses, the door is being closed; entrenching inequality and further reducing equal opportunity.
Using innovative software and the pre-existing telecoms infrastructure, equitysport is now able to provide up-to-date, interactive and scalable training to sporting communities that have, for too long, been left out in the cold.
Early in the pandemic, with travel restrictions in place and the world scrambling to reimagine day-to-day activities virtually, equitysport set out to answer the question of how the organisation could continue to support beneficiaries across sub-Saharan Africa despite less than 40% having access to the internet.
With over 70% of the worlds population having access to SMS, and with the main barrier to access only limited by the cost of a phone handset, text message became a realistic alternative. Drawing from experiences by NGO’s involved in disaster relief, equitysport have worked with software providers to put together training courses and learning experiences delivered over SMS text message.
Delivered via a fully-automated system, interactive text messages are sent to enrolled athletes, coaches and support staff over 5 to 30 days, and in just five minutes of learning each day, equitysport is able to provide low-cost, high impact training, education and learning assessments to forgotten sporting communities across rural Africa.
The first course, a short ‘introduction to anti-doping’ course is being delivered in two languages as a pilot study in Kenya as part of an ongoing partnership between equitysport and Project Africa Athletics, with plans to scale up and expand the course portfolio in the Autumn of 2020.
Tim Harper, Founder and Chief Executive at equitysport said of the project:
“When COVID-19 hit, everything seemed to migrate online, from our work to our social lives, but for communities without, or with intermittent internet access, we saw how the world ‘going virtual’ carried the very real risk of entrenching and exacerbating inequalities, in and out of sport.”
“We pulled a team together to focus on the finding a solution that could plug the hole in the short term and provide a useful and scalable tool as the world adapts to the ‘new normal’. Thanks to the hard work of Grace and James, the first equitysport text message training course is about to launch in both English and Swahili.”
“We’re very excited for the wider potential of the project, and have already set to work with an international child protection charity on developing a safeguarding course, building the software into our ongoing mentorship programmes across the continent, and developing a whole host of other courses and educational resources.”
To help supporters better understand the potential of the technology, members of the equitysport recurring-giving programme; SQUAD are being given the chance to enrol in a selection of the text message courses over SMS or WhatsApp.
To join SQUAD for just £3 per month and support the work of equitysport as together we advance equality, diversity and equal opportunity in and through sport, click HERE - you’ll be joining a community of passionate and determined supporters who care deeply about making global sport fairer, more equitable and more inclusive.
Notes to Editors
For interviews or further comment from equitysport Chief Executive: Tim Harper, please call +44 (0) 7869516106 or contact the team via firstname.lastname@example.org