2018-04-05
Building a new life, one e-lesson at a time - refugees and online education
Copyright: Kiron Open Higher Education

Copyright: Kiron Open Higher Education

GUEST ARTICLE

Continuously the possibilities of digital learning are growing and German development cooperation is expanding its educational portfolio. The digital transformation facilitates access to knowledge for marginalized groups. This is especially true for refugees, who often face the tension of being ‘in-transit’ for years.

During this long process, refugees face restricted access to jobs and education in countries of transit or hosting countries. The Internet and digital technology can provide a remedy to that, especially if donors, host governments and the private sector work in concurrence with each other. 

Speaking on the importance of e-learning and digitalization on the example of Jordan, the Federal Minister of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). Dr. Gerd Müller said, “Many of the young people who have fled to Jordan have left behind a terrible past in Syria, and we want to pave the way for a better future. Education is key - and with digital services, we can reach students without a lecture hall or long distances, be they Syrian refugees or young Jordanians.”

The private sector and social enterprises are getting involved in meeting these needs, next to governmental organizations and governments. Software companies such as TechChange Inc. have developed online learning courses and modules for low bandwidth settings without sacrificing interactive tools, so students can interact socially in the digital learning environment. Social startups such as Kiron Higher Open Education create platforms for Syrian students in Germany and Jordan to complete their education either online or in classrooms, while staying connected with mentors and teachers.

Going beyond the tech, digital learning programs can provide important information and insights for donors and host governments in the process of identifying strategies for recognizing skills. At the same time, employment opportunities and labor market opportunities for refugees are still limited. Taking this bigger, political step is what will make digital learning more than just a technical problem to solve. Technology can play a convening role, facilitating ways to improve the lives and opportunities for refugees. 

BMZ hosts a session on this topic together with the Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE) on 3. May 2018. Come and join!