October 24 2016

3.7 million refugee children do not have a school to go to. Is eLearning the solution?

Posted by Emma Watson

The UN Refugee Agency state that only 50% of refugee children under their care are enrolled in primary school and as little as 25% attend secondary school. Children in Syria, Iraq, Libya, Sudan and Yemen are being deprived of school and, as a result, countries could be faced with the next generation being unprepared and unable to re-build their homes and economy that have been destroyed by war. However, by using mobile technology and eLearning, charities can help children have access to a quality education which will prepare them for their future.

What is eLearning?

E-Learning is learning with the use of electronic technology and can be carried out any time, anywhere. It has many benefits compared to traditional education. Students do not have to travel to and from classes, which is favourable when children live in dangerous areas. Studies have also shown that learners achieve higher scores on tests when carried out via eLearning as students are able to retain more information for longer. Companies are able to utilise eLearning, sharing material in all kinds of format such as videos, slideshows and word documents in order to engage learners.

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E-Learning is the key to a better education for refugee

The Vodafone Foundation have been providing free Wi-Fi and phone charging in resettlement camps meaning families have access to social media and the internet. This provides a fantastic opportunity to introduce tablet and phone based learning. Unicef is introducing a virtual school to combat the education crisis and make up for the lack of schools. Sahabati is an online Arabic curriculum which teaches important subjects, such as Arabic, Maths, English and Science.  Using online assessments and interactive testing, this program has the capacity to reach many learners of different ages, allowing refugee children to learn where ever they are situated, at their own pace.

The opportunity for online education isn’t exclusively for young children. The Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) is conducting a distance learning programme to teach English to young adult refugees in Jordan. Web-driven courses combine traditional teaching and distance learning to communicate content from international universities. This helps adults prepare for their new lives in different countries. They are able to develop skills that can be used to secure jobs which allows parents to provide for their family.

What do companies need to consider when developing eLearning material for Refugees?

First of all, it is vital to understand your audience and to find out what technology they own in order to create a program that is beneficial and sustainable. According to The CIA World Fact Book, in 2015, 81% of the population people had a mobile phone subscription in Syria. Aliim is a non-profit organisation which runs a Smartphone Schools Mobile Learning Program which helps participants improve numeracy, literacy and life skills. Students can continue to learn, wherever they are, via their smart phones. Some families, however, may just have a radio. In these situations, the Education Development Center has been able to schedule regular education programs to broadcasts on FM bands reaching radios in camps of internally displaced persons (IDP). It is also important to discover the main goal the residents want to achieve. It may be that they want to learn the language of a country they are travelling to, or they might prefer to learn vocational training, such as mechanics to help them become employed.

Secondly, it is important to make technology that lasts whilst keeping a budget in mind. Elearning can be very cheap in comparison to traditional learning due to the increased speed and ease of eLearning lessons. However, the technology can be quite expensive and easily damaged when introduced to energetic children. Therefore, companies need to find a cheap, durable solution. Talking book is a fantastic example. The low cost, accessible audio computer is designed to help impoverished populations learn relevant information in their native languages. Technology such as this could help the millions of children who are being deprived of education

The need for education

A report by REACH (April 2015) explained how “education can mitigate some of the risks [refugee] children face. Safe learning environments can protect children from getting trapped in child labour, early marriage, or extremism”. With statistics showing that as many as 91% of Syrian refugee girls, aged between 15 and 18, are out of school (UNHCR), it is imperative the learning infrastructure for children is changed. Girls are being forced into, sometimes violent, marriages as young as 12 due to families not being able to provide for them. By giving girls the opportunity to continue with secondary and higher education online, they become three times less likely to marry before the age of 18 (Save The Children).

Ultimately, education can bring communities together, provide people with invaluable, lifesaving information and provides a stable environment for those who most need it. In areas where children don’t have access to education, eLearning could be the key to their future. By educating children, particularly those born in refugee camps, they can be provided with the skills needed to rebuild their lives after the war.

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Sources

https://www.devex.com/news/7-ways-to-apply-tech-to-refugee-education-87809

http://aliim.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/More-than-2.6-Million-Syrian-Children-Are-Out-of-School-Could-Mobile-Learning-Be-the-Key-to-Their-Future.docx.

https://www.savethechildren.org.uk/sites/default/files/images/Too_Young_to_Wed.pdf

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