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Education goes digital in largest refugee camp

Children on the Edge are pioneering an award winning digital learning programme to overcome language barriers and deliver meaningful education for 7,500 Rohingya refugee children in the Kutupalong camp, Bangladesh.

Children on the Edge has been ensuring access to education for Rohingya refugee children in the Kutupalong camp since 2009; originally creating low-profile schools to enable learning for thousands who were cut off from services. Whilst the Bangladesh government currently allows education in the camp, children are not permitted to learn in Bangla and there is no universally recognised script for the Rohingya language.

To tackle this problem, with the help of Jewish World Watch, Children on the Edge provided 75 smartphones and battery powered projectors to their schools in the camps. Their digital team at Mukti Cox’s Bazar translated or dubbed existing digital educational content into the Rohingya dialect. This is now regularly sent via WhatsApp to teachers’ smartphones, which slot into the battery-powered projectors in the classrooms.

After the initial pilot, child after child expressed joy and disbelief to be able to finally understand the lessons being presented. 1.5 hours of digital lessons are now delivered twice a day across all classrooms in the camps and their sister schools in the Cox’s Bazar communities.

This autumn, the innovation was chosen for the Lenovo education prize in this year’s AbilityNet Tech4Good awards, which serves to recognise outstanding digital achievement in education. In its 10th year,

Rich Henderson, Director of Global Education Solutions at Lenovo said:

The Tech4Good Awards serve as so much more than simply another award ceremony. They offer hope of a more connected and prosperous future, and a world where children can learn without worrying how they’ll access and comprehend their educational material.

Learning about the transformative work of Children on the Edge was uplifting, especially given the current tech and education divide. The organisation’s efforts should propel all other individuals and organisations in the tech space to follow suit by putting digital tech to good use.

The new initiative is enjoying an overwhelmingly positive response from children and teachers alike. Interviews with students have already shown how digital learning and video production is inspiring children and giving them fresh confidence that they will be able to compete in the job market of a globalised world.

Image credit: Children on the Edge