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Breteau Foundation Mobile Education Bus Program– Providing Access to Quality EdTech Programs for Syrian Refugees in Lebanon

Breteau Foundation implement a mobile EdTech classroom, delivering digital education and teacher training to refugees in Lebanon.

Photo of Hannah Brenton
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What problem does your innovation solve?

In Lebanon, more than 250,000 school-aged refugees were not in formal education in 2016. Having missed schooling, many children access informal education, aiming to reintegrate into public schools. Technology is a pedagogical tool to improve educational quality - empowering teachers to provide innovative experiences, motivating children and accelerating progress. The Mobile Education Bus takes our Digital Education Programme to education centres, ensuring children access EdTech innovation.

Explain your innovation.

A mobile classroom bringing quality digital education to 750 children with no/limited EdTech access. Implementation will support 5 education centres in the Bekaa Valley, Lebanon, allowing children to apply in-class learning through interactive content. Evidence from our pilot project has provided BF opportunity to refine our intervention and adapt/improve the initial start-up design and program operations. The design is a flexible classroom (to support adapted space for lesson-plans), outfitted with tablets loaded with relevant content (considering language, curriculum and psycho-social support). A projector and screen allows teacher input and student sharing. A bespoke ‘Offline Resource Portal’ creates a content-intranet for teachers/parents to download resources (innovation to be transferred from our Colombia pilot). Foldable/movable furniture will be used; an extendable awning doubles the bus’ capacity; accessories (slides/swings) encourage play. 2 teachers and a psychologist will implement the program, working with centre-staff to complement in-class learning and increase impact. For sustainability, we implement teacher-training, creating digitally literate teachers who utilise tech as a pedagogical tool. With confidence, the teacher teaches children on the bus (co-teaching and independently), using the space freely to compliment the centre’s

Who benefits?

The Mobile Bus benefits primary-children learning in informal centres in Bekaa Valley. Children benefit from opportunities to apply in-class learning with interactive learning experiences. EdTech supports differentiation in the classroom, supporting children to learn at their progress level and facilitating independent learning. The programme will empower local teachers, to develop digital literacy and ability to incorporate EdTech into teaching. This creates long-term sustainable benefit, impacting future students taught by them. We will target 750 children at 5 education centres on a weekly timetable (approx. 150 per centre). The intervention will target boys and girls, considering gender in program planning, teaching implementation and education content. To measure quality education success will be measured through reach, progress of children, and confidence of teachers. We will use other quant./qual. indicators with the support of the IDEO Challenge such as community/parent opinion

How is your innovation unique?

This project combines EdTech innovations, mobile classrooms, and offline content platforms to create a versatile learning environment to target displaced communities with digital education on a needs-basis. BF is at a unique advantage as we have a current pilot bus project with regional partners; this IDEO challenge would be an opportunity to scale/improve the design learning from the in-depth experience of implementing this project. We aim to innovate the bus’ design to improve the educational impact (e.g. adding offline content platform). We target informal centres without current EdTech interventions, and often work with grassroots organisations limited by funding. BF’s unique edge is our sustainable teacher training program, to hand-over lesson planning and implementation to class teachers. Working in partnership with centres allows teachers to effectively use EdTech to bolster in-class learning, and training teachers, provides a more sustainable impact going forward.

What are some of your unanswered questions about the idea?

Conceptual consideration: How can we effectively measure quantitative progress to improve the learning of children on the bus? Can we show evidence of a true impact link between technology and accelerated learning progress for children who have missed years of schooling in crisis contexts? Practical consideration: How do we best balance our quantitative reach of children vs. the depth of our impact? Is it better to reach more children, for less time – or less children for more time? To what extent can the bus be used in community settings outside of school hours to support other target groups? Could the Offline Content Platform provide content to parents on mobile phones, to support home learning?

Tell us more about you.

BF is a non-profit organisation aiming to improve academic engagement of disadvantaged children worldwide by empowering primary school teachers through digital technology and training. Our Programme is implemented in 8 countries by our local education experts; reaching 14953 students and 569 teachers. Our in-country teams empower teachers and provide quality hardware and education content to motivate and engaging pupils to achieve their full potential.

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

  • Prolonged displacement

Emergency Setting - Elaborate

This projects’ primary design-focus is for refugee context implementation – particularly targeting areas where increased numbers of children place a strain on educational infrastructures of host communities. The concept could be transferred to support children with limited education access during natural disasters (in which roads are usable) and extreme drought – practical considerations would need to be made to scale in this way and all content would need to be tailored to new local contexts.

Where will your innovation be implemented?

The first operational area is the Bekaa Valley, Lebanon. We are currently working with other aid agencies to ascertain specific intervention need in the region. Careful contextual considerations ensure that our programme is made bespoke to local contexts. Future scaling to other refugee contexts (e.g. Sudanese/Myanmar refugee contexts) would require adaptation of language of instruction, national curricula applicability and contextual relevance (to be co-designed with local experts/communities).

Experience in Implementation Country(ies)

  • Yes, for less than one year.

In-country Networks

BF has established partnerships with multiple grassroots organisations delivering programmes in Lebanon. We work with local municipalities in the areas we operate to ensure project approval and needs-based targeting. Our Country Manager attends education cluster meetings and UN workshops mapping education response which has assisted in the effective targeting of our projects and avoids duplication. Finally, we partner with app publishers in the region to access high-quality content in Arabic.

Sector Expertise

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

Sector Expertise - Elaborate

BF have been operational in Lebanon since 2016, implementing our Digital Education Programme in 7 informal centres, including 4 centres in the prior pilot of the Bus Project. We employ an experienced Country Manager, who tailors our programme to the national/local context. Content has been curated: selecting relevant education apps (with Arabic content), mapping apps to the Lebanese curricula and Accelerated Learning Programme and adapting our teacher training to support Syrian teachers.

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

Head Office - London Lebanon Country Manager - Beirut


How has your Idea changed based on feedback?

We gained prototype feedback using interviews and focus groups with children, parents and teachers in our bus pilot. Positive parental feedback, particularly related to improved girls attendance, has encouraged us to actively promote the bus in the wider community. Design feedback has made us reconsider the bus layout to ensure max. space; we may also remove the tent due to weather extremes. Teachers requested more advanced apps for further progress - we will audit current, and seek new content.

Who will implement this Idea?

BF’s Country Manager (based in Lebanon between Beirut and the Bekaa Valley) will manage the Mobile Education Bus. As a former Lebanese teacher, the CM has excellent local educational expertise and previously taught on our pilot bus which she was key in establishing. She has also been fundamental in the refinement phase of this project. The CM will be supported by the UK General Manager and Operations Manager, as well as hired full time teaching staff, a psychologist and a driver who will facilitate the day-to-day delivery of the EdTech program.

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?

1) The biggest challenge that Syrian children face is missed years of schooling. Many children attend informal learning centres, whilst awaiting public school enrollment and are studying the Accelerated Learning Programme (a condensed version of the Lebanese curriculum). In our feedback phase we also found many children remain out of school due to work commitments, to support their family. In feedback, many parents said that they were willing to allow their children to miss work to attend the Mobile Education Bus due to the unique use of EdTech. 2) At a systems level, once children enter public schooling, schools are over capacity and strained under limited resources. Discrepancies between the Lebanese and Syrian curricula result in Syrian children needing further remedial support.

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

BF is self-funded - rather than financial assistance, we seek strong partners on the ground who can supplement our skills and expertise to assist us in program delivery. Our current bus pilot has adopted a different funding model in collaboration with partners, which could be replicated in future. Fundamental to sustainability is recruiting engaged schools, to ensure that EdTech is implemented beyond the training programme. A key consideration for future sustainability/scalability will be finding connectivity solutions/central management systems to support in leaner programme 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?

IMPACT: By 2021, working in collaborative funding partnerships, we aim to reach 12,000 children with buses in 10 refugee contexts (Lebanon or other locations). We aim to demonstrate measurable impact of EdTech's contribution to the acceleration of learning for refugees. QUESTIONS: How do we scale whilst maintaining contextual relevance? Will the model be easily scalable to other refugee contexts/what funding mechanisms can be introduced? How will we reconcile causality v. attribution in impact?

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

We currently measure programme reach, and track progress levels within specific apps related to basic literacy, numeracy and Arabic acquisition. We believe in qualitative pupil voice – so interviews and focus groups are important. For the refined Project we aim to establish a rigorous CMS, and partner with progress tracking apps to monitor impact disaggregate by child to ascertain trends, particularly in gender. Student pre/post tests against the ALP will also measure outcomes.

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

Aug 2017: Bus planning commences. Needs assessment of refugee communities carried out, and schools/informal learning centres selected. Sept 2017: Pre-testing of children, community engagement activities and teacher training begins. Oct 2017: Bus launch Until Oct 2018: Programme delivery in 5 schools/used as informal learning centre during holidays 2019: Establish new operation areas & scale to other contexts. Publish impact findings/seek funding partners 2019/20: Multiple bus projects

My organization's operational budget for 2016 was:

  • Between $100,000 and $500,000 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 a registered entity, but not in the country in which we plan to implement our Idea.

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

  • Between 6 months and 1 year

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

  • Program/Service Design
  • Other Technical Expertise
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Attachments (4)

Community Feedback.pdf

Feedback received from communities in BF's current bus pilot. Collected through interviews and focus group discussions.


View our Theory of Change, which guides the implementation of our global Digital Education Program.


Join the conversation:

Photo of Chris

Hi Hannah and team

Just to say I love how this solution can mobilize technology to take education directly to students in need, in very challenging circumstances. Very best of luck with your inspiring idea!


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