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Basic challenges for education in camps

Thoughts on available resources in camps and factors to consider in design of tools, plus idea involving DVD schooling

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I really like the idea behind this challenge.
I see some very basic challenges.
Camps can be remote and have very limited resources. For example, poor classrooms without electricity, inadequately trained/qualified teachers, language barriers (e.g. materials produced in English).
Different education needs also exist (e.g. traditional (primary, secondary, tertiary), vocational, special needs education, nursery/pre-school). The resources often don't exist to offer much more than primary schooling.
Many people displaced in another country also want to eventually go home. Education has to take this aspiration into account (instruction in mother tongue, recognizable qualification in home country etc.)
At same time, if displacement is going to be protracted and if there are opportunities to integrate locally, the language of the host country will be important to gain proficiency in (if different).
Refugees may also have a very distinct background (e.g. mainly from pastoralists communities). They may also have mixed backgrounds (e.g. Syrians and Iraqis, many of whom had professions before fleeing). The educational expectations and aspirations of parents may vary from situation to situation.
The question is then, do you try fitting the educational model to a specific profile, or do you try roll-out a good quality product that aims to give everyone an equal chance to acquire a good standard education?
Given primary schooling exists in many camps, it is probably secondary education that would benefit most from any innovations in making education more available.
Primary schooling may benefit more from innovation in content and style of teaching, with more emphasis on supporting teachers to improve their methods.
I like the 'School in the Air' idea that was posted. I was thinking along similar lines before I read it.
Live classes (internet, satellite) may be expensive or technically hard to achieve in all classrooms, but DVD is a cheap and easy way to disseminate education.
Local or international schools could be approached to consent to their classes (in particular subjects) being recorded for a year. A full year's mathematics course in an UK or American high school for example could be recorded for refugee students wishing to try for scholarships in UK or US universities.
This type of instruction for motivated students would give not only (hopefully) a good standard of teaching, but also open up a world to refugee students by seeing and observing classes in action in schools in these countries.
In participating schools, if camera was at back of class most students would remain anonymous (though parental/student consent would be needed). Faces could be digitally anonymized. Classes could also only video the teacher in action with the voices of students as background when questions are asked, or clarification sought. Ground rules for participating schools could include the necessary safeguards for participating classes in the schools (e.g. non-use of names in class).
Students in English or American classes, by participating in such a project would also learn more about refugees through the introduction of the project.
DVDs could alternatively be used as teacher support materials. One DVD class in the regualr teaching programme could free up a teacher potentially to give another class to other students and multiply the capacity of a teacher to meet the needs of high density/populated schools. Teachers might also merely facilitate the class if it is a subject they are not strong in (i.e. play the DVD and pause at certain points to pose questions, such as math problems; then play the DVD for the answer).
Students could potentially borrow DVDs/DVD-player for private instruction.
A more interactive platform for remote teaching would be much better and ensure a degree of supervision or attention in class that a DVD might lack, but I think technical failures in systems, absences from class etc. may make these platforms less reliable than DVDs in many places.
For supervision and attention in class issues, teachers on the ground might try use simple pop quizzes.
DVDs might also be best only to target core subjects like math, science, economics, life skills, civics, and foreign language. History as a subject, for example, could be challenging.


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Hi Steven, interesting post! Any chance you could find an image to go along with it? Images help grab attention and tell a story with higher impact. You should be able to use the Edit Contribution button on the top of your post and follow the instructions to add images from there. Looking forward to seeing more of your inspiring insights on OpenIDEO.