There is a problem in refugee schooling. In the latest UNHCR numbers, about half of all refugee children are not in school, and this percentage is expected to climb as a result of recent global disturbances.
Over the next five years, the Mohammed Bin Rashid Global Initiatives Foundation in Dubai has created The Digital School, which aims to enroll one million refugees and poor children.
The Digital School’s first phase was formally started this year in five nations, including Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, Mauritania, and Colombia, as part of a test stage that began in 2020. This year, up to 20,000 students are expected to enroll, as well as 500 professors. Additionally, 120 learning centres will be established, delivering instructional material in the four languages: Arabic, French, Spanish and English.
According to the UAE Minister of State for AI, the Digital Economy, and Remote Work Applications, Omar Bin Sultan Al Olama, “We are selecting sites that have a particular baseline of infrastructure.” Electricity and some kind of internet access are so available. It may not be the best, but at the very least, they will have access to the services. We put the instructional materials on these tablets and then hand them out to students.”
More than 35 worldwide organizations, including academic, educational, and scientific institutions including UNESCO, UNICEF, Harvard, and Arizona State University, have joined the Digital School’s global alliance. Dr Waleed Al Ali, the Secretary General of The Digital School, said, “We believe in partnerships and that’s why the Alliance for the Future of Digital Learning is our aim, our method to bring partners from different sectors, like education, technology, academia, governments… to ensure we have a more rounded model for the digital school in every location.”
Dubai Cares, the Emirates Red Crescent, and the Knowledge and Human Development Authority are among the organizations that have partnered with the campaign. Learning centers in refugee camps and isolated places are being built and repurposed by these organizations. Connectivity has been made possible because to agreements with several governments and international organisations, with local telecom carriers providing free internet access.
As a result, each country’s curriculum may be tailored to the demands of the Digital School. With the help of a teacher or facilitator, digital instructional materials are uploaded and students may work at their own speed.
The Digital School’s Education Director, Dr. Lesley Snowball, explained that their method helps kids build the resilience and flexibility necessary to thrive in adverse situations. ‘It provides students vital information and skills for their immediate and long-term future,’ she told Euronews.” A feeling of belonging to a larger community, and an understanding that the rest of the world cares about them, is what we hope kids will gain.”
The Digital School’s Secretary General, Dr. Waleed Al Ali, said that instructors, facilitators, and students were all taken aback by the speed at which they picked things up. “People assume because they are underserved communities and less fortunate, they will be slow on getting on board … they are very smart. They get it and are hungry for more.”
As part of the prototype phase, a Jordanian refugee camp near Mrajeeb Al Fhood was opened two years ago, with 60 pupils. A total of 750 students have signed up for the program as of today.
In order to work as a facilitator at the school, Fatima Al Gabawy undertook a six-month training program. A newfound spirit of self-reliance and initiative emerged in her after the event. Fatima said to Euronews that “[The Digital School] helps strengthen [them] in studying in [their] transition from one stage to another, and there are certificates provided by The Digital School that are globally recognised to qualify for universities or colleges in the future.”
As a result of The Digital School’s one-of-a-kind worldwide effort and its potential reach, these students and their communities have a renewed feeling of optimism for the future.
The article is paraphrased from the following: Digital School aims to educate 1 million refugees over next five years, Laura Buckwell, 27/04/2022, https://www.euronews.com/next/2022/04/26/digital-school-aims-to-educate-1-million-refugees-over-next-five-years