Seeking solutions to support learning for refugees, migrants and IDPs post COVID

The current pandemic has a silver lining with respect to education and learning. It has forced the education system to rethink and be creative in finding ways to ensure learning continuity. Different modes of distance learning are being explored with careful consideration of equity and inclusiveness.

The question therefore emerges, whether and how technology could reach out to some of the most excluded and marginalized populations, such as refugees, migrants and internally displaced persons (IDPs).

Research undertaken with 500 refugees found that they ranked water, phone and food as essential, in that order, meaning that they prioritize staying connected above food, clothing and health care. Refugees, whether on the move, in camps or after arrival in a host country, consider mobile phones a lifeline for their survival.

Tapping into technology many refugees already possess, the use of mobile phones for learning is already a reality. Some examples include AI-powered micro-learning for low literate adults to develop skills, an adaptive reading program for girls and women, and a multi-partnership program with Blockchain-based applications to recognize learning gained in refugee camps in Uganda.

Therefore, in response to the growing interest in seeking innovative solutions to ensure learning continuity for refugees, migrants and IDPs, UNESCO, through the Institute for Lifelong Learning (UIL), has launched a call for cases. In line with the UNESCO Strategy for Youth and Adult Literacy, the project aims to analyze success factors, identify challenges and document measures taken to overcome them. The ultimate goal is to produce evidence-based recommendations for policymakers and program providers who wish to design holistic and relevant interventions for this vulnerable population. A report with policy recommendations is expected to be published in early 2021. The project is supported by the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA).

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