Education
Turkey / Worldwide

Lab4Future

2020 - Ongoing
Published on Sep 09, 2020 10:00 AM  -  Updated on Oct 15, 2020 01:38 PM
TSF provides digital and technical activities to Syrian refugee children living in Gaziantep to help them rebuild their future.

Context: Conflict
Start date: 01/01/2020
End date: Ongoing
Intervention area:

  • City of Gaziantep, Turkey

Activities: 4 Workshops

  • Computing and Internet
  • Programming and robotics
  • Electricity 
  • Fabrication 

200 beneficiary children

2 centres supported

Context

In March 2011, Syria was won by the "Arab Spring" movement that shook the Maghreb and Middle East regimes for several months. The government’s armed response, followed by the militarisation of the revolution, degenerated into a savage conflict for which no solution has been found so far. The destruction has affected the entire country, including civilian and community infrastructures in their entirety, generating a massive displacement of populations.

Turkey is the country hosting the highest number of Syrian refugees: over 3.6 million out of the over 5.6 million who have fled Syria since 2011. Their living conditions are difficult: an estimated 12% of them lives in extreme poverty and 59% in moderate poverty.

50% of them are estimated to be under the age of 18 and after years of war and displacements, children are one of the most vulnerable groups. Around 400,000 Syrian children in Turkey are out of school, facing not only integration difficulties, but also high exposure to different forms of exploitation, including child labour. These children lack educational opportunities and a welcoming, safe environment where they can start becoming active participants in the events of their lives.

An innovative educational opportunity for Syrian refugee children in Gaziantep

Turkey since 2013, TSF launched the Lab4Future project in 2020 in the two centres, Alanwar #1 and Alanwar #2, which are managed by our local partner Minber Alsham.

The aim of the project is to offer children aged 6-17 an opportunity to learn basic digital and soft skills in a safe and welcoming environment that encourages their independence, critical thinking and problem solving skills. It is based in the concept of learning by doing and promotes peer-to-peer knowledge sharing.

Workshops

Through an innovative educational approach, which fosters teamwork and peer-to-peer collaboration, the Lab4Future covers different aspects of the technical world and allows students to learn digital skills while progressing in other subjects like Arabic or Mathematics. It is composed of 4 workshops, conceived to provide children with the necessary technical skills for today’s digital economy through a tailored educational approach:

  • Computing and Internet workshop: A basic introduction to the use of computers, tablets and the Internet. Starting from scratch by teaching the main parts of a computer (hardware and software) and their usage, the workshop proposes basic and more advanced activities on the Web, emailing, web research, fake news and Internet safety.
  • Programming and Robotics workshop: A basic programming training through educational robots aimed at sparking children’s interest in programming in an engaging way. For each type of robots, a set of progressively difficult activities is created, from basic movements to more advanced commands. Once the basic programing skills are acquired, children are allowed to express all their creativity and develop their own activities, which will then be saved on the common platform and available for other students to use.
  • Electricity Workshop: Through a basic training on electricity and magnetism, children learn the basic circuit principles and investigate electricity and magnetism concepts in an interactive way. Under the guidance of TSF professors, children explore this fascinating world and have the possibility to conduct different experiments applied to real world situations, and even create their own ones.
  • Fabrication Workshop: Children discover the main steps and know-how to build and repair objects, and have access to a wide variety of digital and fabrication tools that help them realise different useful projects. This workshop allows children to apply the skills acquired in the other workshops to real world projects of their own choice, by expanding their competences in the areas most interesting for them.

COVID-19 and distance learning

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the population in Gaziantep, including children, has to remain at home as much as possible. Albeit not designed for this situation, the Lab4Future allowed TSF to provide children remote digital and technical activities by using an online platform. This offers access to different activities and tutorials that children can complete from home.

TSF staff ensures a regular follow-up through a WhatsApp group and daily videoconferences with the children. For the families who do not have enough means, digital equipment and/or internet connection is provided to allow all children to participate in these activities.

Distance learning is mainly focused on the first two workshops, which do not require additional materials which children wouldn’t have at home. However, thanks to the creativity of TSF staff, children have had the possibility to also build small electrical circuits and thus participate in a wide range of fun and engaging activities despite the difficult moment.

Syrian refugee children learning from home

Education continuity

The Lab4Future's purpose is to contribute to the educational continuity of vulnerable refugee, displaced or migrant children. The organisation of the activities in workshops and the use of an online platform make it a modular project, which can be implemented in different steps and in different formats, as it is demonstrated by the rapid adaptation to the COVID-19 situation in Gaziantep. This allows children who are going through difficult situations, to live their childhood in a fun, educational and welcoming way in order to rebuild their future.

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Funding

With the support of