Over 80% of Syrian refugees in Jordan are urban, and because of rent prices and unstable jobs, a lot of them are constantly on the move - and it's students who suffer the most. When they're in the classroom, they're not learning, and when they're pulled out of school, the learning ends. Our goal is to target these students, and teach them to not rely on schools to learn, but rather to rely on themselves. Fikra 3al Mashi, which literally translates to Idea On the Go in Arabic, aims to help urban Syrian refugees learn how to learn by themselves, inside and outside the classroom. Our unique pedagogy, coupled with our innovative and relevant areas of focus, prepares our students to become problem-solvers, change-makers, and lifelong-learners.
Professor of Educational Technology at Newcastle University, and winner of the 2013 TED Prize, Sugata Mitra, began with the “Hole in the Wall” experiment where he placed computers, in walls, in slums and villages, in India, and found that children can overcome language and tech barriers in order to teach themselves and others using a computer. This led to the School in the Cloud initiative, from which we draw inspiration.
The Self-Organized Learning Environment (SOLE) therefore allows students to cooperate within groups, and use computers to learn and answer questions. The SOLE motivates students, engages them, makes them responsible for their own education without a teacher hindering or neglecting them, and all it requires is internet connection.
areas of focus:
For our older students, we introduce the concepts of entrepreneurship, framed through the perspective of problem-solving.
Syrians in Jordan cannot work without a work permit, but small micro-businesses require no such permit, and many refugees find this to be the most sustainable source of income. Our goal is to help refine business acumen, and teach the skills necessary for starting and maintaining a successful business. Before attaining that stage, our students are taught to identify problems in their community, and research and develop potential solutions.
Another essential part of the curriculum teaches basic ICT (internet and communication technology) skills. Through online scavenger hunts, and student-directed SOLE sessions, we encourage students to use technology to learn more about whatever they are interested in.
We also teach more explicit technological skills such as basic programming and web-design. Using the Hour of Code platform, students learn basic computer science. Students also end up designing their own websites in groups.
The foundation of any digital learning is the skill of research - research that is based on verifiable and reliable sources, and that is guided by the right questions and techniques. We teach how to research reliably, and ask the right questions that will guide the digital education of our students.
Regardless of future job prospects, the English language is necessary for living - surviving - in the twenty-first century. We want to ensure that Syrian refugees have the opportunity to learn, and eventually, master, this survival tool.
To do so, we focus on teaching English essentials for the web, and basic conversational English. Once a base has been established, we leave students with the ability to teach themselves by searching and learning online, and constantly asking questions.