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'Stand Up' training program and app removes barriers to girls attending school in refugee communities

Stand Up is a training program & app enabling young refugee adults to help families when there is an issue keeping a girl away from school

Photo of T4R/HOST International

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What problem does your innovation solve?

Girls are not attending school because of cultural and social barriers. During prolonged displacement, whether education is a hole in the wall, or a high-tech hub, the barriers remain the same. It's a structural problem. Gender inequality and cultural expectations - girls being encouraged to marry early, to stay home from school to do chores and help family members, or being kept from school because a male in the family is given priority - these are the problems we are addressing.

Explain your innovation.

Stand Up is an app and education program to get ‘Community Champions’ to ‘stand up and step in’ when there is an issue keeping a girl away from school. Champions will receive incentives that will help them in their own search for a meaningful livelihood. Girls are kept home from school to: care for sick family members; translate at appointments; help with household chores, such as cooking, cleaning & childcare. The solution? Offering families an alternative. Our idea is the Stand Up app to request a Community Champion (young refugee adults – especially young men) to step in. The Champion can be requested to help with the jobs that need doing so that girls can keep going to school. We will target young refugee adults who need learning/vocational opportunities and train them to step in as Community Champions. This qualification will give them recognition and celebrate the importance of their work. As they respond to app requests they will earn credits, showing employers their capabilities and winning points for rewards via a sponsored gift program. We will co-design a training course with students and use prominent male community members as Program Ambassadors to mobilise participation and support. The course would include cooking, including healthy food; cleaning, including using non-chemical cleaning products; clean water and sanitation; financial management (household related); and care-taking. Monash University will partner in program design and pre and post evaluation.

Who benefits?

Girls will benefit from increased access to education. This benefits society as educated women contribute to the size, quality, and productivity of the workforce, and, in turn, the economy. They can get better paying jobs, allowing them to provide daily necessities, health care, and education to better support their families. 'Community Champions' benefit by getting recognition for work that usually goes unrecognised - thereby elevating the status of important work that needs to be done, yet limits girls from attending school. The word ‘economy’ comes from the Greek for 'household management'; household work should be recognised and celebrated as the foundation of a healthy economy. Girls and boys can contribute to this equally. Shifting towards this mindset benefits all societies that are being held back socially and economically by rigid thinking. This idea can be scaled up and across any place where gender stereotypes and societal barriers hold girls back from education.

How is your innovation unique?

Most innovations in this area focus on developing new ways of providing education in emergency settings. We believe that many models for this already exist - from hole in the wall schools to community based learning centres, to high tech hubs. But girls are not accessing any of these educational opportunities in the numbers they should. So we are coming at the problem from a different angle - what is stopping girls from attending any form of education - and making those societal and structural problems our focus. As IDEO said recently in HBR: “...culture change can’t be achieved through top-down mandate. It lives in the collective hearts and habits of people and their shared perception of how things are “done around here”. At IDEO, we believe that the most significant change often comes through social movements... that mobilise the masses to institutionalize new societal norms." We're with you on that. That's why we're choosing to focus on shifting gender stereotypes.

What are some of your unanswered questions about the idea?

We're working on finding the right tech development partner who is committed to co-creation and co-design. We are working on broadening the refugee communities and organisations we engage with in Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand to find out how the solution could work in different cultural contexts. We will have to adapt all aspects of the program to address different gender/cultural norms within different communities - how do we ensure that the program can be sufficiently adapted at scale?

Tell us more about you.

T4R (Fugee School) and HOST International joined forces because of a common passion to provide education to displaced people. T4R will focus on in-country mobilization of the project, while HOST Intl will support them with human resources for project design, development, marketing and scaling. Core team is: Nawa Haile, former refugee & student; Deborah Priya Henry & Jessica Chapman, Co-Founders T4R, and Melita Smilovic Project Manager HOST International

What is the primary type of emergency setting where your innovation would operate?

  • Prolonged displacement

Emergency Setting - Elaborate

The primary implementation setting of Stand Up is regions where refugee and asylum seeker communities experience prolonged displacement, and where girls are underrepresented in available education opportunities.

Where will your innovation be implemented?

T4R (Teach for Refugees, which is part of the Fugee School) works in Malaysia and Indonesia with the plan to expand to other countries in the Asia Pacific region. HOST International works in the Asia Pacific region, currently focusing on Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand, where there are significant numbers of displaced people and children lacking access to education. Our initial focus would be Malaysia (Kuala Lumpur) and Indonesia (Jakarta) scaling out to other Asia Pacific nations.

Experience in Implementation Country(ies)

  • Yes, for more than one year.

In-country Networks

In Malaysia, T4R is supported by the UNHCR Malaysia, Open Universities for Refugees, Taylor's University, Monash University, Brickfields Asia College Make it Right Movement, and the Education department at Nottingham University Malaysia Campus. T4R is a formal partner of Liberty to Learn in Malaysia. HOST International works closely with UNHCR, NGOs and grassroots community organisations in Malaysia and Indonesia, to support and build capacity for their service delivery to refugees.

Sector Expertise

  • I've worked in a sector related to my innovation for more than a year.

Sector Expertise - Elaborate

Members of the T4R team have between 10 and 23 years experience. The T4R co-founder established the Fugee School, a school for refugees in Malaysia. Nawa Haile, the T4R Girl Access Program Manager, was a refugee from Somalia; her experience is a lifetime. The HOST International team has over 20 years’ experience between them, working with refugees and asylum seekers in the Asia Pacific, focusing on settlement, education and training.

Innovation Maturity

  • Existing Prototype or Pilot: I have tested a part of my solution with users and am iterating.

Organization Status

  • We are a registered non-profit, charity, NGO, or community-based organization.

Organization Location

Malaysia and Australia.


Fugee School - T4R was created by the Founder and Managing Director of the Fugee School, Deborah Henry and Jessica Chapman, who after working together for two years at the school recognized a need for a broader platform for designing and implementing refugee education across Malaysia and the region. The Fugee School is the inspiration behind T4R and is an important partner in the organization's work.
HOST International -

How has your Idea changed based on feedback?

Feedback has led to:
-Engaging private business sponsorship to provide fun/interactive training for Champions and desirable incentives/rewards, which also supports program sustainability
-Champions being selected by a community selection board
-Some communities need one male/one female Champion to respond to requests for cultural/religious reasons
-Using values aligned advertising in the app for revenue (e.g. UNHCR programs)
-Addressing trust/privacy using community participation processes

Who will implement this Idea?

The Fugee School students, parents, teachers and communities will make their idea a reality, supported by the school Managing Director. HOST Intl will provide project management and overall program support. Our partner academic institutions and Education Director will focus on developing program training using co-creation methods with target communities. Our technical development partner will focus on app development using co-design methods with target communities. Partners are located within the Asia Pacific region, providing a mix of full-time and part-time staff dedicated to the project.

What challenges do your end-users face? (1) What is the biggest challenge that your end-users face on a day-to-day, individual level? (2) What is the biggest systems-level challenge that affects your end-users?

Individual challenges: see video. Lack of legal access to formal education, employment and affordable healthcare is the biggest systems-level challenge faced by end users. This is because Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia are not signatories to the UNHCR Refugee Convention, which directly limits people’s ability to earn a living while they wait for settlement in a third country. Because refugees are separated from family and their communities, they don’t have their usual social and economic supports to help them cope with everyday problems and the uncertainty about their futures. Despite this, refugee communities use their strengths to find solutions to the problems they face. Stand Up puts these communities at the centre and leverages their efforts with partnerships, training and an app.

How is your organization considering sustainable growth in order to continue making an impact over time?

HOST and Fugee will grow a sustainable partnership by combining the local expertise of Fugee with the organisational capacity and resources of HOST. Stand Up will bring in additional partners to increase capability and strengthen sustainability of the partnership. Social & cultural sustainability will come through the refugee community-led board and involvement of youth at the school. Stand Up is community led and backed by organisations with long term commitment and resources. Start-up funding will support rapid conversion to a real world product and embed the project for sustained operations

Tell us about your vision for this project: (1) share one sentence about the impact that you would like to see from this project in five years and (2) what is the biggest question/hurdle you need to address to get there?

By 2021, we aim to increase the number of girls in protracted displacement settings in 3 South-east Asian countries attending school by 50%, while increasing work experience and livelihood options for young refugee adults participating in the Stand Up program.

How do we convert our concept into a real world technology solution to support a consistent quality rollout across cultural contexts, with robust metrics on improved girls' school attendance and young refugee adult livelihood outcomes.

How do you currently measure (or plan to measure) outcomes for this project?

We will develop an evaluation framework with our partner academic institutions. We will use qualitative and quantitative data from the program app (e.g. #of Champions and requests; #of families helped; #and type of user feedback; Champions ratings). We will use community feedback forums/focus groups for qualitative data e.g, shift in gender norms/attitudes; and work with schools/learning centres to measure girls' attendance. We will use all findings to inform our Continuous Improvement plan.

What is the timeline for your project Idea? What are the key steps for implementation in the next 1-3 years?

Year 1: Develop and trial pilot program with Fugee School community; establish key partnerships; establish evaluation and continuous improvement framework; refine pilot based on feedback and evaluation.
Year 2: Expand refined project to x 2 other refugee communities in Malaysia; monitor and evaluate program roll-out in additional locations to inform 2nd country roll-out in year 3.
Year 3: Pilot in 2nd country (Indonesia); consolidate program in existing locations and expand to 3rd country.

My organization's operational budget for 2016 was:

  • Between $50,000 and $100,000 USD

How many of your team’s paid, full-time staff are currently based in the location where the beneficiaries of your proposed Idea live?

  • Under 5 paid, full-time staff

Is your organization registered in the country that you intend to implement your Idea in?

  • We are seeking registration in order to implement in additional countries.

How long have you and your colleagues been working on this Idea together?

  • Less than 6 months

What do you need the most support with for your innovation?

  • Business Model Support
  • Program/Service Design
  • Product Design
  • Other Technical Expertise

Attachments (1)


Students at the Fugee School have been working on a prototype of the Stand Up app, incorporating feedback from students, young people, families, teachers, and the broader community.


Join the conversation:

Photo of Rasal

Thanks for your concern.
I actually perceived there two questions. Answer to the second one is provided, but I think the timeline of our project (project life) in achieving objectives is not clear to the readers or evaluators. This is from my perspective.
Thank you

Photo of Rasal

Dear T4R/Host International
The time line of the project is not clear as the key steps for next 3 years are mentioned.
With regards

Photo of T4R/HOST International

Hi Rasal Lia - thank you for your comment. The additional application questions requested that we provide a broad overview of how we expect the program to roll out over the next three years. So, it's not a specific timeline; just a broad overview for each year. Also, character limits on answers are limited (as you know) so this question did not provide for a detailed answer. Thanks again for your comment.

Photo of Dave

Hi, this is a great idea! My name is David Hughes and I am the Project Director for the Bendigo Inventor Awards.
Now in our 7th year, the Bendigo Inventor awards have as our focus inventions that address needs in the Emergency Services and Disaster Management space, and we offer a AUD$10,000 prize for the winning entry. The Bendigo Inventor Awards has also created an environment for inventors to obtain support for their ideas by bringing together a coalition of partners with the knowledge, skills and networks to accelerate the progression of ideas from concept through to commercialisation. Major Program Partners include Engineers Australia who are providing technical feedback, KPMG who are offering advice on commercial viability and the path to commercialisation and Red Cross, who are providing their perspective on the relevance of many inventions to disaster relief efforts. Our judging panel also contains representatives from Emergency Management Victoria, who are able to provide similar feedback on the applicability of inventions to the emergency services.
I believe your idea would be a fantastic entry into the awards. Applying is easy and can be done through our website Simply select the category that your invention applies to – ‘Concept’ or ‘Product and Prototype’, and answer some questions about your invention. All judges are required to sign a non-disclosure agreement, so your idea is protected. Entries close 5pm Friday 29th September 2017 AEST.
I very much look forward to seeing your invention go on to great success, and hope we are able to assist you in enabling that to happen. If you have any questions at all, please do not hesitate to get in touch on the phone number above, or via my email at
David Hughes
Project Director
Bendigo Inventor Awards

Photo of T4R/HOST International

Dave Hughes - thank you so much for your feedback and invitation to enter the Bendigo Inventor Awards! We will be in touch to get some further details. We look forward to talking with you! Thanks again

Photo of Rasal

Hi, how can I communicate about this idea? Is the comment box only way?
You have brought changes after feedback, I like to notice " Champions being selected by a community selection board". Doesn't it create chance that community leaders with all of the barriers will dominate the champions, and the champions before selection try to please leaders by healing facts like girs are taken away from schools and are under pressure to marry?

Rasal Lia.

Photo of T4R/HOST International

Hi Rasal Lia - the best way to communicate is through the comments box. Thank you for your comment. The community selection panel will be comprised of community members who have been involved in the design and implementation of the Stand Up project - so it will be people who are keen to see girls attending school, and who are supportive of the project overall.

Photo of Rasal

Thank you.
Then it's not unexpected that the community selection panel not swing from the objective of the project and the project have no role in selecting the selection panel.
Thanks again

Photo of Julia

Dear T4R/Host International,

What a great initiative for a complex and important issue that needs to be addressed! You asked whether people thought this idea might work in communities they worked with, and I would like to share two thoughts with you:

1) So far Same Skies has experienced displaced communities (in Indonesia) to value education very highly (from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, Iraq etc.). For many of them, being denied access to education (particularly the girls) has been amongst the reasons why they fled their countries. Now that they are away from the suppressive environments they were used too, many of the parents' highest priority is to enable their children to access education - and this goes for boys, as well as for girls... Same Skies has now expanded to Malaysia where the majority of refugees are from Myanmar. We have heard about the particular challenge that your solution is trying to address, but we haven't had much experience with it yet. We will let you know in the coming months when we start our first projects here.

2) It seems to me that girls being prohibited from accessing education is not purely due to the necessity of them doing household chores but also influenced by very strong gender roles and expectations. In order to make the solution work, I think there would have to be a very strong focus on challenging and changing existing community structures. Maybe this could be achieved through the community champions that you are mentioning but in my experience such change takes a very long time. Therefore, my advise would be to put just as much (if not more) work into this part of the project, as on the technical development of the app.

I wish you all the best with your innovation.

Warm regards,

Julia Frei - Same Skies Executive Director

Photo of T4R/HOST International

Julia Frei Thank you for this valuable feedback - you have reminded us of the inspiration for this project, which is this film by Fugee School students - the students decided they wanted to find a way to help educate others, particularly boys and men, to stand-up to make change to allow for more opportunities for girls and women. The class sets out to make a video to raise awareness about how words create and enforce gender-norms and inequality. The film won the Stand Up Men award at the Girls Impact The World Film Festival. In developing the Stand Up education/training program and app, we started out with a very overt statement about wanting to change gender norms, but as the project has developed through human-centred design and a community led approach, this message has become less overt, and more integrated into the fabric of the program design, encouraging change through action and service, thereby influencing gender norms. We agree this is long-term work, and the technical development of the app is a vehicle for this more critical work. We would love to hear feedback from the communities you work with at the Refugee Learning Nest and Learning Centre in Indonesia. This project needs to be community led and community designed, and the only way we can do this is to continue to seek feedback and input from communities. We look forward to collaborating with you further.

Photo of Rasal

I think the idea will not only bring structural chage after making role model community champions that it will take long time, the idea also suggest that young community people will work immediately to overcome the barriers. So we can expect better outcomes immediately.

Photo of Rasal

Hi, we are also conscious of the fact that semantic barrier and lack of previous educational records-documentation may sometime become common problems for host country educators in case of displacement. Semantic barriers in native SiDR affected children is not a problem but it becomes a big one in Rohingya refugees from Myanmar. Thanks the innovation. The Stand Up program can effectively remove the barriers with the support of trained people and community champions.

Rohingya: About 5-6 Lac Rohingya refugees entered Bangladesh from Myanmar. In October -November 2016, about 65,000 entered and relocated in Thengar Char island And the island is being developed by Bangladesh Army. (Wikipedia)

Photo of War Child Canada

It's great to see the unique angle T4R is taking when looking at girls' education in refugee settings. We also see that many models exist, but the struggle often lies in ensuring ease of access/reducing barriers to access. Thanks for sharing!

Photo of T4R/HOST International

War Child Canada  - thank you for your comment. We would be very interested to know if this idea would work with any of the communities you work with. We'd be keen to get feedback about how it could be adapted to different settings, or any suggestions for improvement/refinement. All ideas are welcome. Thanks again for your comment.

Photo of Rasal

Thanks for your innovation. It hopefully can be an effective inducement enforcer for sending girls in education. It depicts some common realistic problems many developing countries(particularly Muslim community) are facing - you mentioned cultural barriers, I like to add economic constraints and pressure from dominant groups for early marriage too. If both the girls and their gurdians have eagerness for education what does your innovation plan to compensate and overcome the barriers?
Looking forward to knowing from you.

Photo of T4R/HOST International

Thank you for your comments Rasal Lia - you are right, there are definitely economic pressures holding girls back from school, and pressure to marry early is related to this as it is sometimes seen as a solution to relieving economic pressure on a family. We are inspired by the fact that families and students we are currently working with want girls to attend school, but the need to work in the home often takes priority - our model aims to solve this by getting champions from the community to 'stand up and step in' so this work can still get done and free up girls to attend school. The champions get recognized and rewarded for their efforts, along with leadership and work experience. We also hope to affect gender norms that suggest only girls can be doing certain work in the home. We are also inspired by projects like Educate Girls where ensuring girls attend school consistently is an initiative driven from within the community, and communities come to see that educating girls is an investment in both the girls' and the families' future.

Photo of OpenIDEO

Hi T4R and Host International Team!
We’re excited to share feedback and questions from our experts with you. We encourage you to think about this feedback as you continue to improve and refine your Idea. You are welcome to respond in the comments section and/or to incorporate feedback into the text of your Idea. Your idea and all associated comments will all be reviewed during the final review process.
Based on your knowledge and experience, is this a new approach or bold way of answering the challenge question?
One expert shared, “ Yes. Australia supports male 'champions for change' but linking this concept to incentives is different. Most current male champions for change are usually self motivated whereas this approach seeks to motivate a much broader group.”

Is this idea human-centered?
One expert shared, “Considers the role of young men and how you might motivate & reward them to change behaviour. Also recognises will need socialise concept with the community - but what about the girls? What is their perspective?”
Expert’s thoughts on your business model:
Experts were curious to learn more from you on this topic. They did have some ideas to share too, “The university partners can provide the technical expertise but not usually a funding source however, if the approach shows promise, it could be picked up/supported by UNHCR & other NGO/CSOs working in this space.”
Final thoughts and questions:
How will champion's be selected / vetted?
What is the process for matching the 'community champion' to the girl he will assist?
Being able to deliver on the incentives will be crucial - have you identified potential employers / educational institutions willing to participate?
How do girls views/perspectives feed into this process?
How will you pre-empt or manage if there’s some community resistance?
In case you missed it, check out this Storytelling Toolkit for inspiration for crafting strong and compelling stories: Storytelling is an incredibly useful tool to articulate an idea and make it come to life for those reading it. Don’t forget - August 6 at 11:59PM PST is your last day to make changes to your idea on the OpenIDEO platform.

Have questions? Email us at
Looking forward to reading more and thank you for the important work you are doing!

Photo of T4R/HOST International

Thank you so much for the feedback! We addressed many of these points during the feedback phase and are in the process of uploading changes to our application addressing all these very valid points. Thank you for the feedback to make our idea stronger.

Photo of OpenIDEO

T4R/Host International, great to have you in the Challenge! Just wanted to remind you of the deadline in case you wanted to submit to the Challenge. The Ideas Phase closes June 25 at 11:30PM PST. Make sure your idea is published so others can see it! Only published ideas are eligible.

Also don't forget to answer all of the questions and make your post visual by adding a picture! And here's some tips on adding visual goodness to your idea: plus more on evolving your thought-starter: