In its longstanding mission to transform education through technology, ITWORX Education, a market leader in education technology solutions that address the needs of K12 education institutions worldwide, has launched an innovative and holistic e-learning solution for underserved and underprivileged Syrian refugee children in Lebanon.
A non-traditional educational initiative that capitalizes on the power of simple and movable technology, the solution is designed to provide extended access to self-learning opportunities that curtail typically hefty public and private investments into the traditional infrastructure of formal education – such as school buildings and large structures of educational professionals – and that address the needs, challenges and potential of Syrian refugees.
At the center of the ITWORX Education solution, WinjiGo, an e-learning platform, enables an unlimited learning experience, connecting displaced children to sustainable educational opportunities. Building on its transformative and international potential for cross-border education, the education project will run in partnership with their Excellences, Gordon Brown, United Nations Special Envoy for Global Education and former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, and Tom Fletcher, former UK Ambassador to Lebanon and currently Director of Global Strategy for the Global Business Coalition for Education, of which ITWORX Education is a member.
ITWORX Education, a division of Cairo-based ITWORX, is backed by EuroMena, a private equity fund established in 2006 with the participation of the European Investment Bank and Proparco, which has since invested in over two dozen companies across Africa and Levant. EuroMena is the largest shareholder of ITWORX.
Commenting on the initiative, Mr. Romen Mathieu, Managing Partner of EuroMena funds, said:
“Although EuroMena’s primary mission is to invest capital in promising businesses across the region, this does not negate our responsibility towards the underprivileged members of the communities in which we work”. He added: “With the unfortunate events in Syria and the ramifications the conflict has across the region, we found it prudent to use our capital to invest in ITWORX Education, an organization doing incredible work in ensuring that everyone, including young Syrian refugees, have access to primary education".
ITWORX Education has mapped out a course of action to create virtual schools across strategic touch points, built around extensive digital content tied into curriculums, a state of the art online learning platform (WinjiGo), and smart technology-powered learning centers whereby education would be accessible both offline and online. More importantly, the learning centers would be located inside the refugee camps to address transportation challenges, and draw on the collective clout of community and volunteer contribution from teachers all over the world. When planning the program, ITWORX Education sought to ensure that a complete end to end solution was designed to bring together all the elements needed to make the experience truly effective. In September, ITWORX Education piloted a successful virtual schooling experience with the Saad Nayel School, located in a refugee camp in the Lebanese city of Shtoura, near the Syrian borders. Going forward, it hopes to replicate this success for other Syrian refugee camps across Lebanon and the region.
“It is a rather alarming reality that the world is facing today and, the onus that institutions and initiatives like ours hold in actively and proactively tackling challenges for sustainable human, societal, cultural and economic development is one of paramount impact and magnitude. More than 50% of the 4 million Syrian refugees today are children who’ve lost everything. Inversely, these children have everything to gain. Indiscriminately of borders and access, education is both their springboard and arsenal for a bright future away from their current struggle and distressing conditions,” comments Mr. Hatem Sallam, CEO of ITWORX Education.
“For these refugees to become active members of a truly knowledge-based economy, they must be equipped with learning and personal development tools and solutions that can unlock future opportunities for them based on pure merit and hard work, rather than access to financial and technical means. This e-learning solution falls under a much wider ‘school without borders’ future of sorts we’ve envisioned for underserved communities across the globe,” Sallam adds.
A recent educational assessment notes that 80% of Syrian refugee children in Lebanon were not enrolled in school, while in Jordan, 56% of Syrian school-aged children are not receiving formal, education. Moreover, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) estimates that 20% of Syrian refugee children – predominantly aged over 12 years old – drop out of school in Lebanon. In Turkey, nearly 80% of Syrians live outside of refugee camps but face major language barriers that hinder their ability to attend school.
To this backdrop, ITWORX Education has identified several challenges for Syrian refugee children, including limited school capacities, transportation difficulties, curriculum and language differences, discrimination and bullying, lack of official papers and documentation for both parents and children, and inadequacy of teacher backgrounds
and experiences. The e-learning project is set to tackle these challenges and provide Syrian children with their right to education despite security and economic obstacles.
Earlier this week, ITWORX Education joined 29 other companies in a campaign by the Global Business Coalition for Education (GBC-Education) with the aim of getting one million Syrian refugee children into school in Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey. Announced at a meeting of GBC-Education in the UAE, the businesses will work alongside the UN and key regional and international donors and experts.
Mr. Tom Fletcher, Director of Global Strategy for the Global Business Coalition for Education, said: ”I am delighted that ITWORX Education has joined the ‘Global Business Coalition for Education', part of a rapidly growing group of companies determined to bring their creativity, networks and ingenuity to the effort to get 59M kids into school across the world. We all recognize that this effort cannot be led by governments and NGOs alone”.
A Microsoft Strategic Education Partner, ITWORX Education holds an impressive track record in delivering customized software solutions across the EMEA region, with deployment success stories in over 1,500 schools. ITWORX Education solutions enable education authorities, private and public schools, colleges and higher education institutions to realize their e-learning vision.