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Portable School Toolkit - Bridging the gap between refugees & host communities and schools & parents in Afar, Ethiopia

A portable toolkit for schools and parents in refugee camps & host communities with a curriculum on social emotional learning & life skills

Photo of Lara Hager
13 20

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Explain your project idea (2,000 characters)

Our project idea is a portable schoolkit that can be used in schools in refugee camps and the surrounding host communities. The kit contains a curriculum on Social & Emotional Learning (SEL), containing elements of peace education. The curriculum currently contains 10 lessons, that is currently being piloted. We would like to expand the lessons to 24 lessons with input from the children. The project innovatively uses ICT by having the recurring animations that introduce the theme of each lesson. The schools where we work have access to a computer and can play these animations. The animations are animal characters (see video), that either talk in the local language (Amharic for Ethiopia) or in English (for Ghana). We used locals for the voices of the animated videos, so the accents are familiar. In addition, we want to include a Parenting Module on life skills in order to inform parents on what their children learn in school. Facilitators will be trained and will train the parents in the relevant subjects. We have chosen this approach since parents have informed us that they would like to know more of what children learn in school. It uses visuals (playing cards) to train parents in life skills that their children are taught at school. We aim to bridge the gap between children and parents, by involving parents better in the educational life of their child. We also aim to bridge the gap between refugees and the host communities to ensure a peaceful co-existence. We are currently piloting in two countries: 1. The SEL curriculum consisting of 10 lessons with animations is now being piloted in Ethiopia and Ghana. Our goal is to expand the number of lessons to 24, depending on the outcomes of our evaluation next month. 2. The Parenting Module: the wooden box with Parenting Module is currently being piloted in Malawi. The paper curriculum from India (with drawings/pictures discussing sensitive topics) has been effective since 2017 and has shown positive results.

Who are the beneficiaries? (1,000 characters)

Our beneficiaries are 5.030 school-going children aged 6-14 (55% male, 45% female) and their parents who are displaced and living in refugee camps and the host communities in Afar. Moreover, 144 teachers in 7 schools will also be part of the project. The Ethiopian Colleges for Teachers Education (CTE) in Aysaita and ABi Adi CTE also play a vital role in the project. When they are trained well, we can ensure more sustainability of the intervention. When teacher educators are trained in SEL, they will in their turn train teacher students, who are the teachers of the future. The total target population in and around the refugee camps is 37.874 (count March 2018).

How is your idea unique? (1,000 characters)

The idea is unique because it aims to bridge the gap between generations in an emergency setting. Whereas other programs have a curative and specific focus (e.g. trauma), the SEL program is part of the school curriculum. It has a holistic approach, which focuses on the child and connects the school and child to the community. We train teachers to become more aware of the social emotional development of the children they teach. Parents can be involved in their child's education insofar as they find it important that they go to school. However, what children actually learn in the school with regards to social & emotional learning (SEL), peace education and life skills, is something parents are not aware of. We aim to bridge this gap between children and schools on the one hand and parents on the other. Moreover, by involving the host communities, we also contribute to bridging the gap between the refugee camp and the host communities

Idea Proposal Stage (choose one)

  • Pilot: I have started to implement the idea as a whole with a first set of real users.

Tell us more about your organization/company (1 sentence and website URL)

“Training and educating people for a better life” Edukans works in developing countries to achieve the best possible education for children and young people. Education in safe schools with good teachers, and vocational training that offers job prospects. We do this because we believe in it – but also because investing in children’s education is incredibly effective. On average, a year of extra education means 10% more income in later life. And that’s over a whole lifetime!

Expertise in sector

  • 7+ years

Organization Filing Status

  • Yes, we are a registered non-profit.

In 3-4 sentences, tell us the inspiration or story that encouraged you to start this project.

Aisha (see YouTube video) is a 14 year girl who fled from Eritrea and has been in the camp for 9 years. For the traditional Afar, it is quite rare to see a girl going to school. Only a third of children in the camp go to school. Hasna, Aisha' mother, wants her to have the best future and therefore sent her to school. For Aisha, getting an education is the best chance of developing herself and escape poverty in a safe setting.

Please explain how your selected topic areas are influenced, in the local context of your project (1,000 characters).

Peace: One of the challenges the refugees face is the high prevalence of violence and in specific sexual and gender based violence such as partner violence and early marriage. The violence is often used as a coping mechanism for stress, which shows the importance of developing healthy coping mechanisms for stress. In emergency situations, girls and women are often more vulnerable and there is the specific need to have attention for gender. SEL can play a valuable role here, but the need for the complementary combination of SEL and life skills also becomes clear. Prosperity: lack of resources is a problem in Afar. We have built additional school blocks to provide education for more children. In this manner, more children will have continued education and chances of a better life after they leave the refugee camp. We have been training teacher in child-centered pedagogy. The drought in the region has also hurt agriculture in general, affecting sources of income for farmers.

Who will work alongside your organization in the project idea? (1,000 characters)

Edukans has been working with its implementing partner Development Expertise Center (DEC) since 2008, who also have an office in Aysaita. We work in close cooperation with the Ethiopian Colleges for Teachers Education (CTE) in Aysaita and with Abi Adi CTE for the Berhale region. Communities involved are Aysaita refugee camp, town (2 host community schools) around the camps, Berhale camp and town (3 host community schools). Teachers play a crucial role in the project. Parents will be involved through facilitators, who will visit them and train them in specific modules. The children play a key role in evaluating the pilot and making the new lessons. We have been working with these schools in a teacher training project and are familiar with the communities. We evaluate trainings together with the people trained and identified additional areas we could focus on. The fact that the parents approached us with the wish to become more involved, shows a great deal of interest from their part.

Please share some of the top strengths identified in the community which your project will serve (500 characters)

We have been building new school blocks in order to give as many children as possible access to school. These children should be able to continue their lives despite the disruption of war and displacement. This will give them a good chance to succeed when they leave the refugee camp. So a) more children are going to school b) we have been working with these communities for 3 years c) the request comes from the children, parents and schools and d) we are piloting a small curriculum currently.

Geographic Focus

Refugee camps and host communities in Aysaita and Barahle, Afar region, Ethiopia.

How many months are required for the project idea? (500 characters)

36 months

Did you submit this idea to our 2017 BridgeBuilder Challenge? (Y/N)

  • No

Attachments (1)

Project overview visual.pptx

This overview shows the different people who benefit from the project as well as the products.

13 comments

Join the conversation:

Comment
Photo of Claudel
Team

Hi Lara!
Wish I would get in touch with you via your private contacts is that possible?
I am interested in your organisation the EDUKANS is there a way to partner with a peacebuilding based school I have initiated here in Uvira.
Meanwhile I wish success to your idea/challenge.
Best regards,

Photo of Lara Hager
Team

Thanks, Claudel. You can e-mail me at: lara@edukans.nl
I can put you in contact with my colleagues who work for Congo projects.

Best wishes, Lara

Photo of Anubha Sharma
Team

Dear Lara
It's interesting to read about your project because we are also working towards incorporating life skills which include social emotional skills formally in our curriculum. We also engage parents through parent teacher meetings. I wanted to ask how you address the instances of parents being uneducated as that is a big gap in the geography we are dealing in.

Photo of Lara Hager
Team

Dear Anubma Sharma,
Thanks for your comment. I always find it very useful to learn from other settings and regions! Yes, we face the same issue. In fact, there is quite a lot of difference in the parents' background across the countries we work in. We try to take this into account when developing or adapting the material for a particular setting. In this case we work with animations (video's), playing cards with drawings/pictures, puppets and focus groups. So the parents do not need to be literate, for example. The material (or parts of it) so far developed is being used in Malawi, India, Ghana and Ethiopia.

best wishes, Lara

Photo of Sietse Blom
Team

Great project!

Photo of Lara Hager
Team

Thanks, Sietse. Hopefully it will get a chance to develop and grow!

Photo of antoinette
Team

Very important, that you do not only train the children on social emotional topics, but also the parents!!

Photo of Lara Hager
Team

True, and from Malawi we understand there was a gap in what parents could grasp what their child was learning in school. I was quite surprised to hear that it was the parents who asked for training so they can understand better about what their kids learn :-)

Photo of Asel Zoe
Team

Dear Lara,

Its a great project to creat this school kit for the refugee camp. I would love to see more of how does it look inside, how bright the colors for the children and hope it has something of the lesser too, please.

Good luck))

Photo of Lara Hager
Team

Dear Asel Zoe,
Thanks for your comment. The box is currently at a carpenter's workshop in Malawi - he is making extra copies based on the prototype. It contains lessons and cards (like playing cards) with a lot of drawings/pictures (as many parents may be illiterate) and puppets to be used for a kind of roleplaying.
Can you explain what you mean with the 'lesser'? Do you mean the lessons? In the proposal, I have included a link to Youtube, where I uploaded 1 animation that is part of 1 lesson. It gives an example of a lesson that teaches about self control when you feel angry. best wishes, Lara

Photo of Angi Yoder Maina
Team

Hi @Lara Hager 
Interesting project. Are the majority of the refugees in Afar from Eritrea, how many generations have they been in the camps? I am very interesting in learning how people are using trauma-informed methods in schools in conflict zones on the African continent. Would you call the program trauma-informed to start with? Do you have a companion teacher training module which helps the teachers learn how use the tools you are teaching? What exactly is in the curriculum? Have you done any research on the impact of the modules with the refugee children or with the teachers? Or also with the parents?

Sorry for all the questions. Angi.  

Photo of Lara Hager
Team

Dear Angi,
Thanks for all your questions! It is in fact wonderful to get responses and questions, as it helps to share thoughts. So, to answer them:
1. yes, most of them are from Eritrea.
2. they have been there since 2007
3. no, it is not geared towards trauma / trauma-informed. It is more centred around peace education.
4. Yes, we have a teacher training module that trains the teacher in using the tools and makes them reflect on their own social emotional development.
5. curriculum: SEL currently contains 10 lessons, titled:
Lesson 1 - Who am I?
Lesson 2 - Who are you?
Lesson 3 - Example givers
Lesson 4 - We are listeners
Lesson 5 - Problem solvers!
Lesson 6 - All the things we feel
Lesson 7 - Talking with our bodies
Lesson 8 - All my feelings and me
Lesson 9 - You are amazing!
Lesson 10 - Moving on

The Parenting Module consists of 9 sessions for Parents on Life Skills.
6. Yes, we are doing research in on-going programs and are now piloting the curriculum in 2 Ghana and Ethiopia. We will evaluate these pilots soon. Same goes for the Parenting Module, which is currently being piloted.

I hope this helps!
best, Lara

Photo of Aniek Santema
Team

This is a very inspring idea! Social and emotional learning is very important for a community of refugees and the connection to the program for parents is very valuable, I hope you get the chance to develop it further.