refugees learning

Refugees and IoT’s Education

#IoT for Good, Light Reading

Two weeks ago, I wrote about how the Internet of Things is helping the Syrian Refugee Crisis at the moment.  Now, I’m going to take a look at how IoT could help going forward – in a way that it hasn’t yet.

To begin with, we need to understand that at the current moment, as the crisis is in full swing, cellphones are the most important technology for people fleeing conflict.  Afterward, when people are living in new places, integrating, or even returning to their home country, then other technology can help.  But at the moment, cellphones are, by far, the most significant piece of technology

The earlier criticism that ‘real’ refugees can’t have cellphones is obviously absurd.  And cellphones really are the most important part of a refugee’s journey.  Cellphones are taken for granted many times, but they’re truly appreciated during emergencies, like a car crash, an earthquake, or a flood.  And a cellphone works for a refugee like this.

It’s good to keep in mind that 50% of Syria has been displaced, middle- and even high-class people have had to run.  And a cellphone is as much a part of their lives as it is for those who live in Sweden.  Also, for those who aren’t as well off, a cellphone is a much more affordable way to stay in contact in comparison to a computer or a tablet.

SyriaDeeply (a part of NewsDeeply) discusses the a technology called MOOC – Massive Open Online Courseware.  It’s free and it can be download from anywhere.  Making an educational curriculum available for Syrians – especially children – would be immensely helpful.  Not just having the Arabic script available, but the potential to keep children engaged and learning, especially when they may be stuck somewhere for days, weeks, months, or years.

As a personal example, I used to teach schoolchildren in the refugee camps in Palestine.  I thought drama, music, and sports, but kids would always get to class early to line up at the computer lab to play educational video games and check Facebook before classes started.  None of the children had computers at home, but they were mesmerised by them when they came to school.  With educational games, as well as linguistic programs (like Arabic-Swedish or Arabic-English picture dictionaries), refugees could continue their education and better themselves no matter where they are.  Additionally, it could help them integrate better into new societies and not feel so intimidated by a new country and new language.

If you’d like to see how IoT is already ameliorating the situation, please read my other article, Syrian Refugees and the Internet of Things.