Friday, March 13, 2015

Unicef Pi4Learning

I previously posted about a wonderful education program utilizing Raspberry Pis (AstroPi). Here’s another one:
Since last May, Unicef has been using Raspberry Pis to educate Syrian children who have been displaced into Lebanon due to their country’s civil war. The program, called Pi4Learning was developed by James Cranwell-Ward, UNICEF Lebanon Innovation Lead, and Eliane Metni of the International Education Association.
With approximately 300,000 Syrian school children living as refugees in Lebanon with no educational resources, Unicef’s Cranwell-Ward sought an inexpensive, ready-to-go solution that could be implemented in refugee camp environments. Already a Raspberry Pi enthusiast, he paired the device with Alex Eames' KickStarer funded HDMIPi screens. Working with Eliane Metni, who had been piloting Raspberry Pis at Dhour El Shweur Public Secondary School in Lebanon, they obtained free Arabic language curriculum from Khan Academy and began providing free classes to the Syrian children.
The Pi4L program is divided into learning tracks: Core Skills Modules for ages 6 – 12 (literacy, numeracy, and science, using Khan Academy content); Technology Applications for ages 5 – 18 (Learning to Code and Coding to Learn); and Continuing Education and Certification for Teachers. 
Each complete computer system costs around $100 and the Khan Academy content is stored and can be delivered offline. Currently approximately 30,000 refugees are using the program, and the goal is to continue to expand.
Both Cranwell-Ward and Metni are especially excited that the program teaches kids to code and to become creative participants in an increasingly technological world community. According to Cranwell-Ward, “The rate at which tech is being rolled out into our lives is phenomenal and coding - or the understanding of technology and how to manipulate it - is going to be a core component of our lives and our children’s lives moving forward… . “There needs to be some basic understanding of what technology is, how it can be manipulated, how we can use it to help ourselves, and not just be a consumer or slave,” quoted from the The Guardian.
One of the students is 11-year-old Zeinab Al Jusuf. There is a video about her experiences and the Unicef project at Unicef stories
There is also a wealth of information online about this project, so if you’re at all interested I urge you to read more. For an excellent overview by Unicef’s Luciano Calestini, see Innovation
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