21 Feb. 2018 | Comments (0)
In 2015, Pearson launched the “Every Child Learning” partnership with Save the Children to deliver high-quality education to Syrian refugees and vulnerable children in Jordan, and to innovate new solutions that improve the delivery of education in emergency and conflict-affected settings. We are doing this through a combination of program funding, collaborative R&D, and joint advocacy.
As “the world’s learning company,” Pearson is committed to making learning more accessible and affordable for people everywhere. Conflict, natural disasters, and other emergency situations are some of the biggest disruptors of education. According to UNICEF, around 50 million children were living in countries affected by conflict in 2017, with 27 million of them out of school. The situation in the Middle East is particularly dire. In Jordan alone, there are 655,365 Syrians registered as refugees, with 261,000 of school age. Only 61 percent of them (64 percent of girls and 60 percent of boys) attend school.
“Every Child Learning” seeks to address this challenge through three pillars of activity:
1. Meeting immediate needs through program funding
To meet immediate needs in Jordan, we invested £500,000 (~$700,000) to enable the establishment of two Save the Children educational centers in Amman, Jordan, which has a high refugee population. The centers provided early childhood care and development services for 604 pre-school-aged children, psychosocial support and life skills services for 613 school-aged children (ages 6-13), and informal education and supplementary tutoring sessions for 873 children. These centers continue to serve the communities today.
2. Collaborative R&D to co-create innovative new education solutions
To understand where Pearson and Save the Children could have the greatest impact, we worked with ethnographers and local researchers to conduct in-depth field research in Jordan. The core purpose was to understand how children were engaging with educational resources in times of conflict-affected transition. Based on insights from our research, and by using Pearson’s expertise in educational content development and Save the Children’s expertise working on the ground with vulnerable children, we developed a new education program, which has been approved by the Jordanian Ministry of Education. The pilot launched in September 2017.
The program includes “Space Hero” (Batlalfada), a math-learning app designed by Pearson—in collaboration with refugee and Jordanian children (aged 9-12)—to strengthen math, 21st century, and resiliency skills, and improve social cohesion between Syrian and Jordanian students. Space Hero follows the story of “Shehab” (an Arabic name meaning “shooting star”), who must overcome a series of obstacles (math problems) as he finds his way from space back to earth. While app content is aligned to the formal Jordanian curriculum, the game format delivers a personalized learning experience and is designed to be played outside of the formal classroom, helping to make math engaging and fun. It is available on the Google Play store to download for free, so that children can access learning anywhere at any time.
Space Hero supports a broader in-school program, led by Save the Children, that focuses on teacher professional development, school-community relations, after-school learning, and psychosocial support. Save the Children project staff also train teachers on how to introduce Space Hero as a supplemental learning tool to support children struggling to achieve grade-level competencies, and to foster protective behaviors.
Overall, the in-school program will reach 3,750 people directly to accelerate their learning and improve their wellbeing.
3. Joint advocacy for education in emergencies
As part of our partnership, we work together with Save the Children to raise awareness of the learning challenges facing children affected by emergencies and conflict-affected settings, and to influence policy changes that could improve their educational opportunities. For example, our “Promising Practices in Refugee Education” initiative, which launched at the UN General Assembly last year, identifies, documents and shines a light on innovation and creativity being applied to the education of refugees around the world.However, our biggest advocates are Pearson’s employees. Globally, they have raised or contributed over £50,000 in support of refugee-related programming since the start of our partnership.
Developing effective and engaging learning experiences for children who are impacted by crisis, in significant life transitions, or on the move is not only aligned with Pearson’s commitment to reach more learners, but also with our business strategy. With global conflicts and mass migration on the rise, and technology disrupting classrooms, we must prepare for a world in which traditional ways of learning could be turned on their head. Our “Every Child Learning” partnership enables us to contribute to today’s most pressing education needs, as well as to grow our innovation muscle to meet the needs of future generations.