By Frank Schott, VP of Global Programs and Leila Toplic, NLG Tech Task Force
We are currently facing the worst refugee crisis since World War II. Over 65 million people around the world have been forced from their homes. Over half of all refugees are children.
After shelter and food, education is one of the highest priorities of refugee communities, but it’s often the first program to be cut when funding is short. As a result, only one in two refugee children have access to primary school, which declines to fewer than one in four enrolling in secondary school, dropping to an alarming one in 100 having the opportunity to continue their studies at university. 1.75 million Syrian children and youth are out of school and 1.35 million at risk of dropping out. There is a very real risk that these children will become “a lost generation.”
Last week NetHope co-hosted the #NoLostGeneration EdTech Summit in Amman, Jordan with UNICEF, World Vision, and Microsoft. We both had the privilege to represent NetHope and engage with many passionate practitioners. And we heard about some of the ways nonprofits — including NetHope member NGOs and technology partners — are using information and communications technologies (ICT) to address the refugee education problem.
Mercy Corps, for instance, is using tablet-based home-learning to link out-of-school youth with formal schooling. Microsoft has developed an online portal to provide youth in the region with career counseling and mentoring, as well as resources for developing entrepreneurship skills. And NetHope has been able to provide 25,000 Chromebooks to NGOs supporting refugees throughout Germany, thanks to a generous grant from Google.org. There are already some great stories about refugee children going online to learn German and catch up on their studies.
Still, more needs to be done to close the gap between the needs of refugees and capacity of the international community and host governments to support them at scale. We need to enable better information-sharing and collaboration in our sector. We need to engage with all organizations that are doing good work on their own and find ways for more harmonized offerings. Sharing tools, curricula, program designs, and impact assessments will allow us to reach more children and accelerate their journey along the learning curve.
At NetHope, we have seen the benefits of bringing together NGOs and the private sector for greater impact. That’s why we decided to launch the No Lost Generation Tech Task Force in Amman last week. The NLG Tech Task Force will work with NGOs, tech sector partners, and host governments encouraging and orchestrating greater collaboration.
The NLG Tech Task Force will bring refugee education experts together and identify the highest impact collaboration opportunities. While there will no doubt be some efficiencies gained through sharing of resources, we know from experience that working collectively results in more impactful program design and execution. Ultimately, we want to make education opportunities available to hundreds of thousands of refugee children that might not otherwise be able to go to school.
The reaction to NetHope’s leadership in the NLG Tech Task Force in Amman was great. We welcome like-minded refugee-education advocates including NGOs, tech-sector companies, education specialists and host governments to join us in our efforts. Join us today!