Mobile Learning Week: 5 innovations for education in emergencies and crises
This year’s Mobile Learning Week focussed on ‘Education in emergencies and crises’. Held at UNESCO in Paris from 20 to 24 March, and co-organized by UNESCO and UNHCR, the event looked at the way in which technologies can reinforce quality education in emergency and crisis contexts and increase learning opportunities for displaced people.
IIEP’s Learning Portal team was at the event and presents here a few of the many interesting initiatives discussed which have facilitated planning and monitoring of education, improved teaching quality as well as students’ learning outcomes and guaranteed more learning opportunities for displaced people.
“Data management is essential, without it there cannot be any planning”,said Ita Sheehy, UNHCR’s Senior Education Officer. UNESCO’s OpenEMIS, initiative seeks to collect and report data on schools, students, teachers and staff through a high-quality Education Management Information System (EMIS). “Student data, information about the students, is really important in the SDG (Sustainable Development Goals) era, leaving no one behind” said Jon F. Kapp, from the Community Systems Foundation. OpenEMIS has allowed UNHCR to track 152 schools, 813 staff members and 50,000 students, as well as books and materials deliveries in Malaysia. This initiative has also enabled the tracking of refugee students, which has proven to be difficult for education centres.
Launched in Kakuma refugee camp, Kenya, by Teachers College-Columbia University in partnership with UNHCR, Lutheran World Federation and Finn Church Aid, Teachers for Teachers aims to enhance the knowledge and skills of refugee teachers through a holistic approach including training, peer coaching and mobile mentoring, leading to improved learning outcomes for refugee students. Teams of international and local staff facilitate in-person training sessions with 25 to 30-person teacher cohorts. Teachers learn new techniques and methodologies -- crafted particularly for emergency contexts -- that they can immediately begin putting into practice.
“There can be no excuse, every refugee child must receive education”, said Ita Sheehy, UNHCR’s Senior Education Officer. Given that the average duration of displacements exceeds 17 years, UNHCR recognizes technology as a tool to improve access to education opportunities. With this in mind, Vodafone Foundation, in partnership with UNHCR Innovation and Education Unit (Learn Lab), have developed the Instant Network Classrooms, an innovative education system consisting of a digital “school-in-a-box”. Each refugee camp classroom receives a set of computer tablets, solar-power batteries and a backup generator, and satellite or mobile network. The use of new technologies allows teachers to explore new pedagogic styles and improve the quality of their teaching. To date, this initiative has allowed refugee students in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, South Sudan and the United Republic of Tanzania, to receive quality education.
Caspar Groeneveld, from Knowledge Platform, explained that more than half of the students that have completed five years of schooling in Pakistan cannot read a story in Urdu, do a simple math equation or even read a sentence in English. Quality of education in schools is a critical problem. Knowledge Platform has developed Ultrabot, a Blended Learning solution for the classroom that enables quality instruction by helping teachers complement their traditional learning styles with technology. The kit - a laptop, UPS (uninterruptible power supply) systems, batteries and clickers for students - includes video lectures, exercises, games and assessments. Knowledge Platform employs a holistic approach involving strategy, content, technology and support, while taking into consideration the interaction between teachers, students and principals, to improve quality education in Pakistan.
Tabshoura Kindergarten Project, a trilingual e-learning platform
Tabshoura Kindergarten project aims to provide international, regional and local organizations in Lebanon with an efficient, user-friendly, and attractive tool to enhance and upgrade their educational approach, giving equitable access for quality education to every young child. The content, provided through a trilingual (Arabic, English, French) distance learning platform, is dedicated to free of charge nursery classes which are aligned with the national curriculum. To overcome internet connection problems in refugee camps, a MoodleBox based on Raspberry Pi 3 is being used, which allows online learning activities as well as file sharing with other users.