CONNECTING PEOPLE WITH TECHNOLOGY

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A technology learning lab in Uganda. Photo ECW.

EDUCATION CANNOT WAIT IS PARTNERING WITH HP TO PILOT EDUCATIONAL TECHNOLOGY INTERVENTIONS FOR REFUGEE CHILDREN IN UGANDA

By Michael Corlin and Johannes Kiess

Uganda hosts 1.3 million refugees – the highest number of refugees in any country in Africa and the third largest in the world today. Half are children.

These girls and boys live in some of the harshest conditions on the planet. Food can be hard to come by, and access to safe, reliable education, learning materials, qualified teachers is an ongoing challenge. Access to any sort of learning technology (even a simple computer) is extremely limited.

The good news is that the Government of Uganda is committed to continue helping these refugee children to access quality education.

Education Cannot Wait – a new global fund that seeks to mobilize US$1.8 billion to provide access to education for 8.9 million children living in crisis by 2021 – facilitated the development of the Uganda Education Response Plan for Refugees and Host Communities and contributed US$11 million in seed funding to launch it.

Overall, the 3.5-year plan seeks to mobilize US$389 million to benefit half a million refugee and host community children and youth. This includes recruiting 9,000 teachers each year, and building 3,000 classrooms annually.

Central to Uganda’s Education Response Plan for Refugees and Host Communities, and in line with the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework, is the need for improved coordination of all aspects of education delivery. This includes the development, roll out and expansion of EdTech.

To more effectively pilot technology deployments in these settings, Education Cannot Wait has brokered a collaboration with HP, Learning Equality, the Global Business Coalition for Education, and UNHCR. HP pledged to donate technology and resources to leverage Learning Equality’s Kolibri offline learning platform to improve the learning outcomes of Uganda’s Education Response Plan for Refugees and Host Communities. The collaboration builds on existing collective work in Uganda by UNICEF, UNHCR, Learning Equality and others.

“Technology is a tool that has the potential to elevate millions of young people out of marginalization and poverty. It empowers girls and boys with previously unavailable information, new networks and channels to learn and develop 21st century skills,” said Yasmine Sherif, Director of Education Cannot Wait. “Technology partnerships like this mean a brighter future for the 1.3 million refugees in Uganda, and the 75 million children and youth living in crisis worldwide that are in need of immediate educational support.”

 

ECW Director Yasmine Sherif at  during the announcement of ECW partnership with tech giant , Learning Equality, GBCE, and UNHCR to pilot educational technology interventions for refugee children in Uganda.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ASSESSING THE NEEDS AND DESIGNING SOLUTIONS

Technology can be a game changer, if put to work properly. Contextualization is essential. Technology deployments for education in crisis, in particular, need to be specifically designed with the user, work within the existing technological and societal ecosystem, and be collaborative, scalable, data-driven and open-sourced.

Technological solutions that may prove highly effective in the United States or Denmark, may need to be shifted to meet local needs and capacities in other places. For hardware, technology that is energy efficient, user-friendly and durable will be essential for deployment in these hardship locations. Most importantly, perhaps, technology needs to do no harm.

In November, UNICEF organized a field visit for HP, Learning Equality and Education Cannot Wait to Kampala-area sites to assess hardware and software needs in local schools, consult with government and local stakeholders, and identify suitable solutions. This included a  visit in two secondary schools where students have access to resources to develop science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) and practical skills through the Kolibri software.

The field visit confirmed the popularity of technology with students, the potential of supporting teachers in classrooms and the opportunity to complement teacher-led instructions with technology.

For this pilot, we determined that both hardware and software are needed. In this case, HP will be providing the hardware – an HP School Cloud – while Learning Equality will be providing the software – Kolibri, which has already been tested in the country and contains content that has been vetted and organized according to the Ugandan curriculum.

We believe that integrated technology can be a key component in delivering lessons, and connecting teachers with training materials to improve educational outcomes in refugee hosting districts in Uganda. Through this pilot program in Uganda, we aim to identify the right tools and technology to support larger deployments for multi-year education programmes that the Fund is helping to develop and launch in other countries affected by crisis.

PARTNERING FOR SUCCESS

To effectively deliver technology as a learning solution for the children and youth uprooted by conflict, or living in the midst of war zones, emergencies and disasters, we need to take a multi-pronged approach that leverages multiple partnerships, context-specific technology and human-based solutions, and to empower people with the training and tools they need to effectively integrate technology into mainstream education.

Partnership with HP

HP is an industry leader for education technology. The technology super giant aims to enable better learning outcomes for 100 million people by 2025. For the pilot project in Uganda, HP will engage Learning Equality as a key collaborator to deploy its HP School Cloud and the Kolibri learning platform in select schools delivering education to refugee and host communities children in the spring of 2019. The project will be extended to a number of additional schools over the course of the year to benefit thousands of children.

“Education Cannot Wait is the ideal partner to identify and deploy effective, scalable education solutions to marginalized populations. Together with Learning Equality and ECW, it is HP’s intention to amplify our work in Uganda to serve refugee students around the world,” said Gus Schmedlen, Vice President for Education, HP.

To engineer sustainability into this pilot in Uganda’s refugee-hosting districts from the start, UNHCR will integrate the HP school cloud in existing initiatives and plans that align to governmental priorities and ensure all children will benefit from transformative learning labs. These initiatives already deploy the Kolibri learning platform in schools and refugee centers in Uganda and other countries.

Ensuring linkages with national EdTech stakeholders

Education Cannot Wait and UNICEF organized an “EdTech event” to bring together a wide range of Ugandan and international stakeholders including Aga Khan Foundation, Maarifasasa, Response Innovation Lab, Maendeleo Foundation, Save the Children, War Child Holland, Windle, Woman in Tech, World Bank, Xavier Project, and Yarid with an interest in improving learning outcomes through information and communications technology (ICT). It was encouraging to see other pilot programmes/approaches which also have accessibility, learning, scalability and sustainability at their core. The EdTech event took place at the Hive Colab, the first technology and innovation hub for ICT entrepreneurs in Kampala.

This was also an opportunity for representatives from HP, Learning Equality, Education Cannot Wait and the Ugandan National Curriculum Development Centre to share lessons on sustainability, curricula, teacher empowerment and community involvement, providing precious guidance for effective project formulation and to ensure linkages to the wider EdTech environment in Uganda.

DEPLOYING TECHNOLOGY AS A LEARNING SOLUTION IN CRISES SETTINGS

The key element to deploying technology in emergencies is about Connecting People with Technology.

Connecting

Not all refugee settlements benefit from 4G internet connectivity. In Uganda, this challenge is being addressed by creating local networks within the pilot sites. These work basically as an intranet to run offline server platforms like Kolibri, connect people, and ensure access to educational materials. Power – or the lack of electricity grid – is another obstacle to address to ensure connectivity. Yes, you need to power these devices and we will rely on existing solar powered systems or the grid, where available, and if not, bring solar power to schools.

Empowering People

No matter how successful one is at setting up the necessary hardware, the most important element is the human factor. You can’t just give people a computer and expect them to assimilate the new technology. The success of the pilot will lie in the users’ agency and involvement. This is why engagement with communities, and sharing lessons learned with other EdTech providers, is key for all partners involved.

Links

About the authors

Johannes Kiess is an Innovative Finance Adviser at Education Cannot Wait.

Michael Corlin is the Education Cannot Wait Country Lead for Uganda.

 

GLOBAL CHARITY THEIRWORLD ANNOUNCES US$2.85 MILLION CONTRIBUTION TO EDUCATION CANNOT WAIT, LAUNCHING INNOVATIVE PUBLIC-PRIVATE PARTNERSHIP

PRESS RELEASE

GLOBAL CHARITY THEIRWORLD ANNOUNCES US$2.85 MILLION CONTRIBUTION TO EDUCATION CANNOT WAIT, LAUNCHING INNOVATIVE PUBLIC-PRIVATE PARTNERSHIP  

GENEROUS GRANT FROM THE DUTCH POSTCODE LOTTERY MAKES THEIRWORLD’S CONTRIBUTION POSSIBLE

5 March 2019, New York – The global charity Theirworld announced today a new US$2.85 million (2.52 million euros) contribution to Education Cannot Wait to support the rapid deployment of education assistance to refugee, displaced and vulnerable children caught in some of the world’s worst humanitarian crises.

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Amsterdam, 4 March 2019: The Chair of Theirworld, Sarah Brown, receiving a generous grant from the Dutch Postcode Lottery at the annual Goed Geld Gala in Amsterdam.

This contribution was made possible through a US$3.57 million (3.15 million euros) grant from the Dutch Postcode Lottery to Theirworld for the global charity to support education in emergencies which was announced at the annual Goed Geld Gala in Amsterdam on Monday. Theirworld will direct US$2.85 million (2.52 million euros) of this generous grant to be delivered in partnership with Education Cannot Wait, launching a unique public-private partnership between the lottery,  and Education Cannot Wait. As part of the new partnership, Theirworld’s Safe Schools Framework will provide guidance on how investments in safe schools and learning environments can be made more effective.

“We are more impactful by working together, and the award by the Dutch Postcode Lottery will allow us to not only deliver education to the most marginalised children, but leverage-up the funding through campaigning to have a multiplier effect for children,” said Sarah Brown, Chair of Theirworld.

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Education Cannot Wait brings together a wide coalition of partners. Through the Fund’s innovative investment modalities, bilateral and multilateral donors, foundations and companies, governments, United Nations agencies and civil society organizations work together to mobilize new education financing and to deploy joint programmes that span across humanitarian and development aid sectors.

“The funding will be used to provide rapid education assistance in places where it is needed most” said Justin van Fleet, Theirworld’s President.  “This new partnership will allow us to support thousands of children living in refugee camps who are not in school – where we need to provide education quickly so they are not part of the lost generation – while we also finding the longer-term solutions so all children can reach their full potential.”

Gordon Brown, United Nations Special Envoy for Global Education & Chair of the ECW High-Level Steering Group (HLSG)
Gordon Brown, United Nations Special Envoy for Global Education & Chair of the ECW High-Level Steering Group (HLSG)

This contribution by Theirworld and the Dutch Postcode Lottery joins contributions by business partners through the Global Business Coalition for Education and Dubai Cares, another major education philanthropist. It is the second largest single private contribution to date to Education Cannot Wait – a new global fund that seeks to mobilize US$1.8 billion by 2021 to provide access to education for girls and boys living in war zones, conflict and disasters. Some of Theirworld’s funding will be placed in challenge grants to be matched by other private contributors to multiply the impact.

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“We are profoundly grateful to Theirworld for this contribution to Education Cannot Wait, and to the Dutch Postcode Lottery for making this possible. This is an important signal for other private foundations looking to support educational initiatives. It sets an example for other donors to follow through and we hope to leverage this funding with additional public-private partnerships”, said Yasmine Sherif, Director of Education Cannot Wait.

Education Cannot Wait’s investments have already reached more than 1 million children in crisis such as the recent tsunami in Indonesia, escalating violence in North-East Nigeria, ongoing conflicts in Syria,  Afghanistan and the Central African Republic, and massive refugee influxes in Bangladesh, Ethiopia and Uganda. However, much more remains to be done, with 75 million children in urgent need of educational support in emergencies and protracted crisis worldwide.

IMG_9588Sigrid Kaag, Dutch Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation – Yasmine Sherif, Director of Education Cannot Wait – Annemiek Hoogenboom, Country Director People’s Postcode Lottery – Sarah Brown, Chair of Theirworld – Sigrid van Aken, Chief Operating Officer of Novamedia and a member of the boards of the Dutch Postcode Lottery

“Education needs to be this generation’s moonshot and this funding from the Postcode Lottery will allow us to mobilise enough people, partners and resources so that every refugee child is at school” said van Fleet.  “We will look for the hardest to reach children in emergencies and keep a watching brief on all hotspots where children’s education is at risk – from the Greek Aegean Islands, Venezuela and Syria to the Central African Republic and beyond.”

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After years of campaigning, including by Theirworld’s cohort of 1,000 Global Youth Ambassadors, the Education Cannot Wait fund was established in 2016 at the World Humanitarian Summit to provide education to the millions of children and youth who have lost out on education because of war, disasters and crisis. The Fund’s investments focus on increasing access to quality and equitable education in safe and protective learning environments for the most marginalized and vulnerable children, with a special attention to girls, children with disabilities and minorities.

“It is thanks to the voices of young people across the world that education is becoming a global priority for all of humanity – regardless of borders. Education Cannot Wait will quickly translate this generous funding into concrete delivery of education to refugee and displaced children with our new partner Theirworld,” said Sherif.

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Notes to Editors:

Education Cannot Wait (ECW) is the first global fund dedicated to education in emergencies. It was launched by international humanitarian and development aid actors, along with public and private donors, to address the urgent education needs of 75 million children and youth in conflict and crisis settings. ECW’s investment modalities are designed to usher in a more collaborative approach among actors on the ground, ensuring relief and development organizations join forces to achieve education outcomes. Education Cannot Wait is hosted by UNICEF. The Fund is administered under UNICEF’s financial, human resources and administrative rules and regulations, while operations are run by the Fund’s own independent governance structure. For more information: www.educationcannotwait.org

Theirworld is a global charity which unleashes the potential of the next generation.  Every child deserves the best start in life, a safe school to learn in, and skills for the future.  We analyse complex systems to identify the barriers to progress and then use our tools of campaigning, innovation projects and partnership building to unlock the innovation, finance, political will and inclusion necessary to create change from the top down and bottom up.

The Global Business Coalition for Education, an initiative of Theirworld, serves as the business community’s social impact advisor, combining the expertise of education and business to develop customised programs and identify investments, partnerships, and opportunities that will have the greatest impact for children and youth.

The Nationale Postcode Loterij (The Dutch Postcode Lottery) is the biggest charity lottery in the Netherlands. Since the start in 1989, the Dutch Postcode Lottery has contributed over 5.5 billion euros to charity organisations dedicated to ‘people’ and ‘planet.’ It now supports 112 charities worldwide and plays a pioneering role in the quest for a fair and enterprising, green and responsible world.

For press enquiries, contact:
Anouk Desgroseilliers, adesgroseilliers@educationcannotwait.org, +1 917 640-6820