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Apex edZone - Offline Digital and Blended Learning for Displaced Youth

Apex edZone is a learning solution enabling refugees to complete quality professional education via offline digital and in-class lessons.

Photo of Muzabel Welongo
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Apex edZone is an experiential learning solution that will enable displaced and disadvantaged youth to undertake high-quality, internationally recognized tertiary and professional education, through an offline digital platform and in-class face-to-face lessons.

The solution comprises of the following main components:

  • Apex Learning Technology: which includes an Offline Wi-Fi Hotspot, a Learning Management System (LMS), Tablets, and a Solar System to charge the equipment.
  • High Quality Curriculum: which will be developed in partnership with colleges and education professionals in the US and Africa. The content will be developed with active engagement from local employers, including businesses and government agencies. Qualified Trainers/Lecturers will be hired to deliver the in-class sessions.
  • A Skilled Talent Marketplace: Apex edZone will put together a skilled talent catalog to help link graduates to existing local and regional employers.

What problem does the idea help to solve and how does your solution work? (2,000 characters maximum)

Apex edZone addresses lack of access to tertiary and technical education for refugee youth (16-35), which affect their ability to achieve self-sufficiency or pursue meaning careers. The aim to address refugee unemployment by increasing skilled talent that respond to the demand of local, regional, and global employers and entrepreneurial opportunities. Our platform aims to build a workforce of digitally and technically competitive displaced professionals who contribute to building their economy – from hosting communities and beyond. Being Young. Being a Refugee The number of forcibly displaced people has reached 70 million worldwide, 60% of which are below the age of 25. While 90% of world’s children attend primary school, only 60% of refugee children do. UNHCR also estimates that only 23% of high-school age youth (13-18) are enrolled in high school, while only 1% refugee youth are enrolled in tertiary or professional education. Existing education solutions reaching refugees use traditional, low-quality teaching methods that lack the ability to produce skilled youth ready for a competitive labor market. Most education programs lack learning infrastructure, have poorly trained teaching staff, and have not adapted with the most recent technologies that are relevant employment or entrepreneurship. Only a few programs exist offering online education to refugee youth, and most of them fall short of offering fully engaging, market-oriented and locally adapted learning experience to students. Blended Learning – without Internet Apex edZone will address these problems by offering a blended, offline education platform that increases access to tertiary and technical education to displaced youth. Students will access engaging, skills-based content that is relevant to the local market demand, is internationally recognized, and incorporates career success tools to enable them to be ready for employment and entrepreneurship.

Geography of focus (500 characters)

Apex edZone targets refugees and internally displaced (IDP) youth in countries affect by conflict, as well as countries hosting these refugees. Our pilot project will be implemented in Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya, targeting refugees from D.R. Congo, Burundi, South Sudan, Sudan, Somalia, and Ethiopia.

Building Bridges: What bridge does your idea build between people on the move and neighbors towards a shared future of stability and promise? (500 characters)

By enabling access to quality tertiary and technical education, Apex edZone enables refugees to develop their skills potential, achieve economic self-sufficiency and fully contribute to the development of their hosting communities. Our educational offerings will focus on skills that can make refugees employable or engage in entrepreneurship in their host countries and back home. Youth from the host communities will also be enrolled together with refugees in all our educational offerings.

What human need is your idea solving for? (1,000 characters)

Quality education enables displaced youth to become self-sufficient, and ensures these youth can challenge the current political and economic systems and take leadership in matters that affect their lives and communities. Current education systems produce graduates who still depend on humanitarian assistance. We believe education should create leaders who are ready to produce concrete change in their lives and in the lives of others. Education is the most important tool displaced youth can use to reach their potential and engage fully in building the economy of their host countries. This project goes beyond basic needs by allowing them to undertake an engaging, blended education that is recognized at the international level and allow them to be highly employable. Our solution differs from traditional vocational training programs current offered to refugees, and from Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). The Apex edZone platform is intended to give refugees the technical

What will be different within the community of focus as a result of implementing your idea? (1,000 characters)

Apex edZone will increase access to tertiary and professional education to displaced youth. Our education platform will increase enable displaced youth to take on meaningful employment and entrepreneurship opportunities in their hosting countries and abroad. Equipped with these opportunities, youth will have stable incomes, reach food security, and communities will experience reduced crime and gender-based violence. Our solution will focus on in-demand technical skills, including English Language, Informational Technology and Computer Studies, Agriculture, and Construction. The final list of skills offered will be concluded with full input from local employers, refugee youth and their communities. The Apex edZone solution will also promote community leadership of these youth, ensuring they can play an active role in the development of their own and host communities.

What is the inspiration behind your idea? (1,000 characters)

Muzabel Welongo, founder of Apex Institute, is a former refugee who spent 21 years living in refugee camps in Tanzania and Kenya. The only thing that Muzabel remembers struggling most as a refugee was the lack of meaningful education opportunities, which resulted in many young refugees being idle and having no opportunities for the future. Muzabel’s frustration is shared by millions of refugee youth who still lack access to education, as research has shown that many refugees aspire for a better education. This idea is therefore important for many refugees, by bridging the education gap that increase refugee employment, increase economic opportunities, and ensure refugee youth can fully contribute to the development of their host communities.

Describe the dynamics of the community in which the idea is to be implemented. (1,000 characters)

Apex edZone will reach displaced people living in refugee camps, urban settings and IDP settlements. Our target population are youth aged between 16 and 35 and have completed at least 8 years of formal education. Most refugee youth live in families or as single-headed households, but all play an important role in matters that happen in their communities. With limited learning opportunities available, youth end up engaging in criminal activities, or became idle in their communities. Female refugee youth are most affected by lack of education opportunities. Not only are they under-reached, many girls fall victim of unintended pregnancies and early marriages due to lack of education opportunities. With good education, girls can avoid sexual violence and unintended pregnancies, and thus fully contribute to building their communities.

How does your idea leverage and empower community strengths and assets to help create an environment for success? (1,000 characters)

Apex edZone will work with refugees and displaced people to get their input on existing educational needs. These will include potential students, community leaders, religious leaders, and youth groups. We will also work with the UNHCR and potential employers (businesses, NGOs) to inform our educational offerings and models. These partners will provide insight into what goes into the educational programs and how the learning will happen. They will also support our enrollment and provide regular feedback that will help us revise our offerings on regular basis.

What other partners or stakeholders will work alongside you in implementing the idea, if any? (1,000 characters)

Apex edZone mainly offers the learning platform, curriculum, and course content. While we hope to run our own learning centers, we will work with other educational institutions in refugee camps , IDP settlements, and urban settings who could adopt our platform, ensuring their teachers are trained and certified by Apex. A commercial version of our platform will be made available for private vocational training institutions at a reduced fee.

What part of the displacement journey is your solution addressing

  • Arriving and settling at a destination community

Tell us how you'd describe the type of innovation you are proposing

  • Product: A new or enhanced physical product that creates value for end beneficiaries

Idea Proposal Stage

  • Prototype: We have done some small tests or experiments with prospective users to continue developing the idea.

Group or Organization Name

Apex Institute, Inc.

Tell us more about your group or organization [or lived experience as a displaced person?] (1000 characters)

Apex Institute is a mission-driven company that specializes in advancing educational technology (edTech) to promote employability, entrepreneurship, and social responsibility of people affected by conflict.

Type of submitter

  • We are a For-Profit Startup or Startup Social Enterprise

Organization Headquarters: Country

United States of America

Organization Headquarters: City / State

Columbus, Ohio

7 comments

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Photo of Dieudonne Mudekuza
Team

Hello mr Muzabel, this is exactly what the people need in places as Dzaleka refugee camp, where we work. Hope to be in contact and to see that with my eyes.

Photo of Muzabel Welongo
Team

Hi Dieudonne,Thank you for this feedback. Malawi is definitely a place I look to be able to expand once my pilot is completed.

Best,

Muzabel

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