The Mobile Learning Week is currently taking place during this week in Paris, France. It is an event co-organized by UNESCO and UNCHR to examine how new and affordable technologies can promote the right to education in emergency and crisis contexts, and expand learning opportunities and inclusion for displaced people.
The theme of this year’s flagship UNESCO event about the intersection of technology and education will be ‘Education in Emergencies and Crises’. From 20 to 24 March, Mobile Learning Week is bringing together experts, practitioners, ministers of education and ministers of ICT to examine ways to maximize the use of cheap and widely available mobile technologies for the education of refugees and other displaced persons.
Mobile Learning Week 2017 is featuring a symposium with over 70 breakout sessions, exhibitions, and a mix of panel discussions and plenary addresses focusing on the educational needs of displaced persons, whose unprecedented numbers exceeded 65 million in 2015, when an average of 24 people were displaced every single minute.
Fifty-one percent of refugees are children and most of them live in developing countries where many schools are already struggling to educate students in the local community. Even in wealthy countries, an influx of new learners presents considerable logistical, pedagogical and political challenges.
Recognizing the fact that mobile devices are among the few possessions taken by people forced to leave their homes, and that mobile technology can also open doors to education and empowerment, Mobile Learning Week will examine ways to support learners, teachers and systems.
In crafting the programme of this event UNESCO and its partners are seeking to strengthen inclusion in education, preserve the continuity of learning in conflict and disaster contexts, open and enrich learning opportunities for refugees and other displaced people, facilitate the integration of learners in new schools and communities, and serve as a catalyst for innovation in the education sector and improve the impact of humanitarian interventions.
Some of the opportunities that inclusive digital solutions can bring to migrants and refugees are vital communication and information sharing, access to learning, making payments and receiving financial support, and getting health information and psychosocial support. However, the lack of literacy skills constrains refugee communities. Along with cost, low literacy levels comprise the second-biggest barrier to connectivity for refugees (UNHCR, 2016).
Today, approximately 758 million adults, including 115 million youth worldwide, cannot read or write which results in a severe lack of skills needed to benefit from digital technologies.