Hi OpenIdeo Team! Regarding the first expert comment: NaTakallam entered this challenge on the grounds that 1- it is addressing children and youth with youth being defined as individuals up to 24 by some standards of even up to 35 by others and that 2-this competition’s main pillars include four opportunity areas - one of which is “Enabling local communities to support education delivery, access, and sustainability,” which NaTakallam is doing through partnering with organizations that are giving trainings to refugees or by supporting refugees while they resettle and are enrolled in language programs or university programs or other forms of more traditional education. That being said, while the youth NaTakallam works with is perhaps older and has received education in their childhood, the completion of their education has been either interrupted or has proven useless as the youth is no longer able to complete their education or/and apply their education/skills acquired—thus meaning we are facing a generation of people whose education and human capital, is at risk of being robbed and falling into oblivion. For the time being, NaTakallam has primarily focused on the idea of both salvaging young displaced persons education or supporting them as they try to move from being an educated displaced person in a new country to entering into new forms of education at the higher level but needing support to do so. As we grow, we plan to work with even younger displaced persons. NaTakallam is in the most obvious sense, is an access to an income, and thus a livelihood program as mentioned by the expert, but it is just as much a unique opportunity to acquire important skills and sustain educational endeavors. Through the interaction with the learners, as well as with the support of NaTakallam’s newly hired pedagogical coordinator and overall staff, NaTakallam provides displaced persons with critical skills (ex. English language practice), soft marketable skills related to professional communications and online tools and cultural learning. This type of education might not be the most traditional and first one that comes to mind, but it is an essential component that at times, might be more efficient to the ultimate goal of education—finding a job. Additionally, for now, the majority of our beneficiaries are doing NaTakallam while pursuing some form of education, which they might not be able to do, had they not been given access to a source of income to self-sustain themselves. Please see the following articles explaining this: http://techonomy.com/2017/07/how-connections-help-place-the-displaced/ https://www.newsdeeply.com/refugees/community/2017/03/09/a-21st-century-response-to-the-refugee-education-crisis
As mentioned by Tom Fletcher,an adviser to the Global Business Coalition for Education, and a former British ambassador to Lebanon, in his article A 21st-Century Response to the Refugee Education Crisis: “Refugee youth also need sustainable sources of income and the ability to receive relevant training in skills for the 21st-century job market. A partnership facilitated by the REACT database between NaTakallam and Recoded is using technology to create just such opportunities. As a member of REACT, NaTakallam is pairing displaced Syrians with Arabic learners around the world over Skype. This provides Recoded with the resources to pay refugees in Iraq as they train to become world-class software developers and links them to job opportunities.”
In line with its collaboration with Re:Coded, NaTakallam aims to develop its partnership program with similar NGOs and social enterprises and NGOs which provide skills and training. NaTakallam’s vision is to build upon the opportunity provided by other organizations who provide more traditional trainings/education to set in motion a sustainable and self-generating system to support refugees in their educational endeavors. Through such a system, many NGOs participating in this competition would find a sustainable way to support their beneficiaries and thus depend less on grants and funding.
Several users on the language learning side have expressed their interest in having a better user experience, and our current work is in direct response to these community members’ needs . Our current users will also participate in the next 2-3 month beta phase of the revamped platform through which we will constantly assess satisfaction of our automated system for both the client (language learner ) and the displaced persons (the beneficiaries). When it comes to displaced people, they are many to be already highly skilled, and in order to not loose such an incredible amount of human capital, we must provide the tools that leverage already existing talent, and we feel NaTakallam, which works with the middle class community of displaced people, is doing that. Conversation partners on our platform typically come from background in engineering, medicine, architecture, journalism, law, the arts and teaching their language and culture while they plan to resettle or continue their degrees is proving to be very precious to them.