Context: Conflict
Start date: 10/05/2013
End date: Ongoing
Intervention area:

  • City of Gaziantep, Turkey

Activities:

  • mLearning

2 children centres supported
200 children beneficiaries each year

Linked technologies

mLearning for Syrian children

Publication date: May 10, 2013 12:20 PM
Last modication date: Apr 22, 2020 05:23 PM
2013 - Ongoing
TSF provides digital educational opportunities for Syrian refugee children living in Gaziantep to help them rebuild their future.

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.  

The project

Currently, TSF supports two centres in Gaziantep, called “Alanwar,” which are managed by a local NGO partner, Minber Alsham. The centres offer extracurricular activities for Syrian refugee children on different subjects such as Arabic, Maths and Computer Science. TSF is responsible for the Computer Science courses and part of the other lessons. All activities are run through the use of digital and innovative tools.

For all subjects, the students can use tablets, which give them access to a wide range of online resources like mobile applications, digital courses and exercises and videos. Thanks to the resources and the supervision of TSF staff, the children can progress in the different subjects in an interactive and autonomous way, adapted to their interest and learning approach.

The Computer Science activities are focused on learning the basics of programming and robotics using tools such as Scratch and the mBtos. Progressively difficult challenges allow students to progress at their own pace and to continue learning even in case of interruption in their attendance. When they work on the different challenges, the children don’t learn just digital skills essential for their future but they also have the possibility to express their creativity adding personal elements to the exercises.

An innovative pedagogical approach

In addition to the technical skills, the pedagogical approach adopted also allows the children to acquire soft skills such as collaboration, team work, communication and critical thinking. The courses are organised in a non-traditional way. Around 15 students in each class work in small groups and can move from one group to another to ask questions to their peers, decide which resources to use and learn in a collaborative while independent way.

The learning process is also specifically adapted and takes into account not only the possible psychological difficulties encountered by the children, but also the disparities of level existing between the children, irrespective their age.

Based on the advice of professional educators, the mLearning project provides a caring learning environment that respects the learning pace of each child, fostering the enjoyment of learning and positive interactions through group work. Syrian children in Turkey who speak Arabic, often have difficulties in Turkish schools. The Alanwar centres allow them to learn and practice their mother tongue while finding friends with whom their share not only the language, but the same situation.

testimonies

To help them want to go to school again, learn and make progresses, in a welcoming environment where they can increase their self-esteem. Digital technologies are a tool which facilitates learning and communication and which can be adapted to each child’s situation. They are a tool among others (as much as pens and papers) but not really as any other, because they open a world of possibilities.” – Eric, French professor, who supported Télécoms Sans Frontières (TSF) in the implementation of the mLearning project in Syria and Turkey

They find people that speak Arabic, a safe space, they find love. […] I like to use modern technologies in education. I like to teach Syrian children how to use modern technologies that open the doors of the world for them. One day I was giving a lesson about Google Maps and I discovered that, although Google Maps is a well-known app, children do not know about it and do not know how to use it. That has been one of the moments in which I realised the importance of our work for Syrian children.” – Lama, one of the teachers working at the centre