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College students develop ‘world-first’ app for refugees and asylum seekers

A group of four students at a south Wales college have developed the first ever language app for refugees and asylum seekers.

The AILEM app was designed to support the needs of refugees and asylum seekers as they integrate into society, with two of the students behind the idea being refugees themselves.

Abobakar, 18, a refugee from Afghanistan, co-created the app with Zakarya, also a refugee, alongside their classmates Lucia and Xinyao Liu.

“Unemployment, discrimination, poverty and integrating into local education, are just the few examples of challenges that refugees when they arrive in a foreign country. But the one challenge that they all have to deal with is the language,” said Abobakar.

The students have created a refugee and asylum seeker panel, who will advise on the development of the app through their experiences, suggestions and ideas, which no other app in the market does.

AILEM has also been spotted by world-renowned university Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who have placed the app in the final of an annual competition they host to help solve the biggest challenges in society.

Naheed Bardai, principal at UWC Atlantic College, said: “The AILEM app goes to the heart of what UWC is about – empowering young people to go out and make the difference they want to see in the world. This app is a world-first and I’m so proud of what our students have created.”

The full AILEM curriculum is available to use in French and English, with more languages to be added in the future. However, the app also has a key phrases feature (AILEMmap), which is available in five user languages (English, Arabic, Pashto, Dari and Ukrainian) to teach Croatian, Czech, Polish, Romanian, English, French and Japanese.

AILEM is available to download on Android:

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