Educating Refugees

Educating refugees and children in conflict zones is one of the biggest challenges facing the international community.

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June 4, 2017 – Online MCAT CARS Practice

Question: What is your summary of the author’s main ideas. Post your own answer in the comments before reading those made by others.

Educating refugees and children in conflict zones is one of the biggest challenges facing the international community. Their schools have been reduced to rubble. Their teachers have fled or are struggling to survive. Their libraries have been looted or burned.

Fortunately, solutions are possible. After all, these days, compelling lectures and well-stocked libraries are available at the click of a button. A bold pilot project, sponsored by the Dubai-based MBR Foundation, reflects this reality. The best coursework on offer – in mathematics, science, foreign languages, and literature – can be loaded onto a mobile phone and placed in a student’s hand. If the 58 million children who are currently unable to attend school cannot be brought to a classroom, then the classroom must be brought to them.

Aid groups are already blazing the trail, using the Internet to provide Syrian refugees with educational opportunities. The Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation, for example, is holding an international competition – called eduapp4Syria – to develop smartphone applications that “can build foundational literacy skills in Arabic and improve psychosocial wellbeing for Syrian refugee children aged five to 10.”

Similarly, in Lebanon, the Beirut-based non-profit organization Sawa for Development and Aid, facilitates the work of NaTakallam, a service that offers unemployed Syrian refugees a chance to work as Arabic tutors. And in Egypt, the Nafham platform allows its users to upload educational videos on topics in the country’s K-12 public school curriculum.

From abroad, the British Council offers online courses in English, through a program called “FutureLearn.” And the Silicon Valley-based NGO ReBootKAMP and UNICEF’s Raspberry Pi coding classes offer young refugees a chance to learn computer programming.

The Internet is being used to help refugees pursue higher education as well. The European Union is funding a three-year e-learning course to prepare 3,100 Syrian refugees in Jordan and Lebanon for university. And the American nonprofit The University of the People has offered 10,000 Syrian refugees a tutor-supported online university education.

These efforts prove that, with the press of a button and the swipe of a finger, two million refugee children in Lebanon, Turkey, and Jordan could be offered the opportunity to continue their studies.

The advantages of online learning are manifold. Prefabricated schools are expensive to ship and often unsuited for real learning. As these become less of a priority, funds will be freed for providing appropriate learning materials and on-site tutors.

This shift in emphasis opens opportunities for contributions by the private sector as well, revolutionizing how education is provided in conflict zones and other emergency situations. The Khan Academy, Google, Apple, and roughly 50 other companies have recognized this need, providing some $70 million in funding, low-cost tablets, online education programs, and assistance with logistics. And in September, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced that his company would work with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to provide Internet access to all refugees.

History shows how much broad coalitions that transverse the private, public, and nonprofit sectors can accomplish. Private companies are often well positioned to deliver goods more quickly and less expensively than public institutions, allowing the latter to focus their efforts elsewhere. Examples of this dynamic include the startups and multinationals that have joined the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to help find a cure for Ebola and entrepreneurs using solar panels to provide off-grid electricity to remote villages in Africa.

But when it comes to providing education for out-of-school children, making the most of the opportunities provided by technology will require a clear, overarching vision. Efforts must be coordinated so that initiatives do not compete or interfere with one another.

Already, UNHCR has established a task force in Jordan to explore how information and computing technology can be leveraged to provide refugees with greater access to higher education. The Global Business Coalition for Education has offered to coordinate educational organizations and their private-sector partners. And in the lead up to the World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul in May, private companies have already begun to mobilize resources and harness their capabilities in the service of innovation.

When the library at Alexandria burned in 48 BC, humanity did not crawl back into caves and stop learning. What went up in smoke was only the physical manifestation of human knowledge; the desire for discovery and progress remained intact. When the flames died down, our ancestors set out to recover the knowledge that had been lost.

That experience has been repeated throughout recorded history, and it should inform our response to the destruction of libraries and schools in Syria. Instead of asking the country’s children to accept the end of their education, we must help them rebuild – with the most modern tools at our disposal.

Adapted from project-syndicate.

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This was an article on Education.

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Jack Westin
MCAT CARS Instructor.
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18 Comments


  1. Internet = education, online learning great, must help refugees

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  2. MI: increased educating refugees/conflict zones via online-education

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  3. MIP: solution to providing refugees w/ edu. = use internet + coordinate efforts; tone = neutral

    Reply

  4. author is positive about education in refugees and children in confictng zone.
    with the advent of technology, internet, can provide e-learning which will help thousands.
    not only non profit and private sectors are working towards the education in those population
    however, author proposes it has to be careful so initiatives would not compete.

    Reply

  5. Modern learning through internet and technology are the best ways to educate refugees. This calls for coordinated efforts from business and nonprofits.

    Reply

  6. With an initiative from both the public and private sector, education can be brought to refugee children in countries of conflict. Because of the advent of technology this turn of the century, education could have a new face that should be reflected in the tools that are given to these children; it may even be more appropriate and better received.

    Reply

  7. Response to educational struggles in conflict zones, proposing that public and private sectors shift focus towards providing digital education, gives examples of how this has been effective in the past and what kind of organizations have already begun contributing to the effort

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  8. Internet is a valuable source for educating refugees. Lots of companies value and are expanding upon online learning. We must continue to emphasize the importance of education.

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  9. Internet=valuable for educating refugees with destroyed schools, many companies are working together to make this happen, education = essential

    Reply

  10. The Internet can be used to help refugees and children from war torn zone to pursue higher education, Many companies/countries around the world are helping to make this a reality

    Reply

  11. appropriate technology/ online learning to rebegin learning rather than try to build physical institutions for learning

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  12. Online education programs will help educating refugees.

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  13. The passages discusses how a plethora of organizations, from the private and public sector, are trying to provide education for the many refugees. With many tools in today’s society, organizations are trying to provide online education to refugees so that they can continue what they once did and had.

    Reply

  14. Themes – Civil strife and war should not stop refugee children in these areas from pursuing an education. Many NGOS have stepped up to provide education to these people via technology so there is no need for physical, brick and mortar schools and libraries (decimated by the war). We should take lessons from our ancestors who faced similar experiences and continued to pursue knowledge in spite of their difficulties. Educating refugee children and providing them with higher learning is a challenge but definitely not unsurmountable.(central)

    Norwegians aiding Syrian refugees with their app to build literacy skills and improve psychosocial well-being. Beirut providing employment to Syrian refugees to work as Arabic tutors. UK provides online English courses and American NGO providing young refugees the opportunity to learn computer programming.

    Instead of rebuilding schools, funds can be better spent in providing learning materials and on-site tutors for the children. Private companies are well poised to provide aid more efficiently than public institutions (deliver goods more quickly and less expensively….cure for Ebola……provide off-grid electricity to remote villages) so that public institutions can focus their efforts elsewhere (no specific examples given).

    Education for refugee children requires a clear vision and more coordinated effort (initiatives do not compete or interfere with one another, example s are UNHCR, GBCE)

    Tone: Informative, encouraging, inspiring.

    Reply

  15. solution to child refugee education = Internet, private tutors, new technologies with the help of public, private and NPO groups

    Reply

  16. 8 paragraphs in..,

    MIP: Even tho educating refugees=challenge, Solutions are possible EX) BPP. Internet = great way to educate refugees

    Reply

  17. Modern education in developing and underprivileged areas has manifested itself through a digital medium that allows for more free and open access. Also, when sources of knowledge are destroyed, the thirst for knowledge still prevails.

    Reply

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