Dubai will provide education to 1 million refugee and underprivileged children over the next 5 years. The new digital initiative was launched by the government of Dubai. We hope to reach more than 20,000 children this year.
Refugee education is in crisis. According to the latest UNHCR figures, nearly half of all refugee children are out of school, and in light of recent conflicts around the world, this figure is on the rise.
The Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives (MBRGI) in Dubai has launched the Digital School and aims to provide certified online education to one million refugee and disadvantaged children over the next five years.
After a pilot phase in 2020, the first phase started this year in five countries: Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, Mauritania and Colombia. This year, up to 20,000 students will benefit and 500 teachers will be trained. In addition, 120 learning centers will be created, offering educational content in Arabic, French, Spanish and English.
Omar Bin Sultan Al Olama, UAE Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence, Digital Economy and Telecommuting, who is also the CEO of The Digital School, told Euronews: “We select sites that have basic infrastructure. This means that they have electricity and a broadband connection. Even if it is not a high-end infrastructure, we we are at least able to give them access and service.We download the content onto tablets and put the program on them.
partnerships for the future
Behind the digital school is a global alliance of more than 35 international organizations and academic education and research institutions, including UNESCO, UNICEF, Harvard and Arizona State University. The Secretary General of the Digital School, Dr. Walid Al Ali said: “We believe in partnerships and that is why alliances are our goal for the future of digital learning, our way of bringing together partners from different fields, from education, technology, science, government …to make sure we have a complete model for having the digital school anywhere.”
The initiative also works with a number of authorities in Dubai, including Dubai Cares, the Emirates Red Crescent and the Knowledge and Human Development Agency. These institutions set up learning centers in refugee camps and remote areas and also use existing premises. Agreements with various governments and international institutions have addressed various challenges, including digital connectivity and the provision of free Internet access by local telecommunications providers.
Education for Change
The digital school adapts to the needs and national programs of each country. Under the guidance of a teacher or moderator, digital learning materials are uploaded and learning happens at your own pace.
The digital school’s director of education, Dr. Lesley Snowball explained that his approach helps students develop the resilience and adaptability needed to make the most of difficult circumstances. She told Euronews: “The initiative will provide them with important knowledge and skills for their immediate and longer-term future…we believe that students will gain a sense of belonging to a larger community and understand that the global community truly cares. them and their potential.”
Dr. Waleed Al Ali, the secretary general of The Digital School, added that they were surprised by the pace of learning of teachers, tutors and students. He said: “People assume that because they’re underserved and less affluent communities, they’re going to be slow to come on board…they’re very smart. They just figured it out and they’re very curious .”
The Emirati-Jordanian Mrajeeb Al Fhood refugee camp for Syrian refugees was part of the pilot phase and started two years ago with 60 students. Today, more than 750 students are enrolled there.
Fatima Al Gabawy, herself a refugee, completed the 6-month training program to become a school teacher. As a result, she learned to take responsibility and work independently, she says: “The Digital School helps students move from one level to another. There are certificates issued by the Digital School. They are recognized worldwide and qualify students, for example, for future college studies or academics.
Access to education is important and determines the course of life. The digital school is an investment in the future of young people and gives disadvantaged children hope for a better life.