Technology Strengthens Education to Refugee Children

Supplemental Learning to Improve School Performance in Dadaab Refugee Camp


More than 300,000 refugees live in the world’s largest refugee camp in Dadaab, Kenya. It is here where many long-term and recent Somali refugees live and go to find refuge. Since its inception, Dadaab’s population has grown nearly fourfold from what was originally planned.  Sixty percent of its population is under the age of 18 but only about half of the children there are in school. Those who do attend the camp’s schools are often confronted by many challenges to their education including limitations in funding for schools and materials; the capacity, available training for, and professional development of teachers; teacher strikes; natural disasters and ongoing security issues.

Xavier Project logoBut Xavier Project believes that everyone has the right to equal opportunities and protection wherever they live and whatever their background. And when this right is denied to refugees, they seek to use education to change it. 

As a recent winner of All Children Reading: A Grand Challenge for Development’s Technology to Support Basic Education in Crisis and Conflict Settings ideation prize, Xavier Project received pilot funding to put their ideas into action in Dadaab.

They partnered with Eneza Education to launch ENEZA, which enables students to access educational material on nearly every subject right on their phone. Now, students can continue to study after school Children in refugee camp in Kenya registering for Xavier projectin subjects such as English, mathematics, Kiswahili, science, social studies, general knowledge and religious education. Teachers are also able to access the program as a resource for professional development. In this pilot project, students in their 7th and 8th years at two primary schools in Dadaab are receiving a free subscription to the service that allows them to use Short Messaging Service (SMS) to take quizzes, access tutorials, or even talk live with a teacher. The service gives them an explanation with every question, so students understand why they got a question right or wrong. They are also able to monitor their progress online and see how many quizzes they have completed. To date, the project has received an outstanding response from students—in the first month of the project, 800 students completed more than 25,000 quizzes.

Additionally, the Xavier/Eneza Education Project worked with the community to ensure staff are available to monitor the program and solve technical challenges. Program staff also worked with community leaders and staff from other NGOs and focused on community and parental engagement to ensure the support of families as well as children’s access to mobile phones to participate in the program. With strong community and parental support, the students have a group of people wanting to see them succeed.

“Education is the only tool in our modern world capable of transforming societies. [It] is key to transformation and modernization,” says Daniel Njuguna, program director for Xavier Project.

two students holding a mobile phoneThe program has evolved quickly since being launched three months ago. To date, ENEZA has registered 1,000 students with 80% of them participating daily in the program. Students have taken more than 41,000 quizzes, with one top student completing over 1,200.

Teachers have also been trained to use a platform to monitor student’s performance and assign homework. The program also features professional development courses on classroom, staff and financial management.

Many other students, outside of this pilot, are eager to participate.  Xavier Project’s five-year plan is to ensure at least 50% of all primary and secondary students in refugee camps and urban centers have access to ENEZA content.

With more than 19.5 million refugees in the world, the need for the program is evident.  And the results of the program demonstrate so far that students are utilizing the opportunity to continue their education. By leveraging technology, every student can have the opportunity to be educated even in conflict and crisis settings.

All Children Reading: A Grand Challenge for Development, a partnership of USAID, World Vision and the Australian Government, is an ongoing series of grant and prize competitions that leverages science and technology to source and disseminate scalable solutions to improve literacy skills of early grade learners in developing countries. Its Technology to Support Basic Education in Crisis and Conflict Settings ideation prize was conducted in collaboration with the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad) and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

To check out more technology-based innovations helping all children learn to read, partnership opportunities or to participate in future competitions, visit www.AllChildrenReading.org or follow us on Twitter.

 

Photos courtesy of Xavier Project and Eneza Education.
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