Empowering Syrian Refugees Through Offline Learning
By Stacy Guidera, Project and Learning Design Manager, DisasterReady
Eight years into the crisis in Syria, there are an estimated 5.5 million Syrian refugees living worldwide. This remains the world’s largest displacement crisis in history.
Close to 20 per cent of registered Syrian refugees live in camps in Jordan, mainly in Za’atari Camp, Azraq Camp and the Emirati Jordanian Camp. Za’atari is one of the largest refugee camps in the world. The camp is now home to more than 79,000 Syrian refugees, making it the fourth largest "city" in Jordan.
In the vast, bustling “city” of Za’atari, refugees are finding a safe space to learn and build skills for their futures. Through learning centers set up by Mercy Corps and tablets supplied by Cornerstone OnDemand, adults of any age can access the center and take online courses on topics ranging from humanitarian essentials, project management, professional and personal development, leadership, protection, and more. So, why tablets? Adult education in Za’atari is challenging for different reasons such as limited access to funding and available trainers for in-person workshops, limited to no internet access in the camp, as well as the need for training in Arabic. As a workaround solution to these challenges, the Mercy Corps team started bringing tablets into the camp each week with courses pre-downloaded through the Cornerstone mobile app. Through the mobile app, learners are able to view courses in Arabic from DisaterReady “offline” without needing to connect to the internet. Technology-based learning offers refugees an important outlet and temporary break from their daily reality. With training at their fingertips, refugees can build knowledge, ideas, hope, and skills for future jobs, and prepare for new career opportunities with local and international relief and development organizations.
DisasterReady.org, a Cornerstone OnDemand Foundation initiative, has been working closely with Mercy Corps and the International Rescue Committee (IRC) on the Investing in Syrian Humanitarian Action (ISHA) Program since 2016. A key component of ISHA is an online learning program that provides free online courses and resources in Arabic and English to help strengthen the skills and knowledge of humanitarians and volunteers responding to the crisis in Syria and the region. With training on more than 24 priority topics, the ISHA program is also relevant for refugee learners interested in working in the humanitarian sector. By offering these humanitarian training courses offline through the mobile app, learning centers within the camp can operate to their full capacity and provide new learning opportunities for refugees.
 Source UNHCR 19 June 2017