OpenIDEO is an open innovation platform. Join our global community to solve big challenges for social good. Sign Up / Login or Learn more

A tiny computer helps Syrian Refugees learn

Sometimes the most informal of learning spaces provide an opportunity for children to learn science and math skills and spark creativity.

Photo of Shehab Chowdhury

Written by

Zeinab al Jusuf was always first in her class, but that was before war broke out in the country of Syrian Arab Republic. She was now reduced to a few story books in the refuge that her parents took her to in Beirut, Lebanon. 

When Zeinab arrived in Lebanon, she missed the deadline to register for school. She was in danger of missing out on an entire year's worth of school, falling further behind because of the conflict occurring in Syria and now her family's migration to Lebanon. 

Eliane Metri, a Project director says that there are over 300,000 children in Lebanon that have not received an education in Lebanon. There is serious concern that Syrian children might become another "Lost Generation". 

However, through the use of informal learning spaces, there's a new opportunity for children like Zeinab to not miss out on learning. James Cranwell Ward is an UNICEF innovator who developed an all in one Rasberry Pi based computer that provides students the ability to learn and improve their numeracy, science, math and programming skills through this low cost technology. This program allows children to learn programming and develop their own games so that they  can continue to play, develop and grow in their development and well-being. At the same time it provides access to education to some of the world's most vulnerable children who otherwise would not have had a chance at attaining this education.  

The Rasberry Pi based system uses the credit card sized hard drive and attaches it to a tablet to turn an informal room, into a learning space. Prior to this, this was just a room, but now these tools are allowing children to express their creativity while attaining new skills essential for the modern digital age. 


Join the conversation:

Photo of James Cranwell-Ward

Hello, this is James here, thank you for posted this but this has prevented me posting my own idea, can you get in touch with me so we can do the appropriate attributions.


Photo of Chioma Ume

Hey James! Welcome to the Research phase of our challenge! We are using this phase as an opportunity for people to share what they have heard about in the education space - and it's very exiting to have you on the platform as someone who has developed one of the inspirations our community has shared! If you'd like to clarify something in Shehab's post feel free to add a comment and I'm sure we can clear up any confusion. That said, we'd love for you to also add a post with information that you'd like to share about what you've been working on - we want everyone to share widely - so there's no problem with having multiple research posts about the same idea or project! When we get to the Ideas phase next week, the same holds true - but of course in that phase we'll want people to share the ideas that they've come up with themselves - or are collaborating on with others in their communities. Great to see you in the challenge and joining our conversation!

Photo of James Cranwell-Ward

Hi, I have posted under my own research to provide more clarity in what we are actually trying to achieve and put some context around this rather than just pasting the article form SOWC. I would be happy to advise on the ideation side especially to offer some advice on what is possible in a place like Lebanon and what is not possible. They are many things to consider in this environment included the government's and local partners role. Looking forward to being part of the debate.

Photo of Chioma Ume

Hi James, That's great, thanks for sharing your story. If you are interested in lending your expertise as part of the experts that evaluate ideas later in the phase, let me know and I can contact you about that via email.

View all comments