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“And now, we’re developing the Digital Superheroes Academy, a digital platform that will teach kids life skills in the form of superpowers.” —Allison Sanders, Research and Partnerships Coordinator, Baan Dek Foundation
The Baan Dek Foundation in Thailand has spent the past 15 years working with thousands of disadvantaged kids throughout Southeast Asia on health, education, and safety services.
As Baan Dek notes, Burmese migrant children living in camps, slums, and on construction sites where their parents work in Thailand are one of Asia’s largest groups of out-of-school children. The Foundation works to teach these kids life skills by sending teachers and social workers into their camps. They’ve worked for three years to teach thousands of children 15 life skills that they think of as superpowers. These superpowers include critical thinking or the importance of diversity over discrimination.
One major superpower they focus on? The superpower of education, the right to education, and how to fill out the paperwork needed to be able to attend public school in Thailand.
Today, 98 percent of the children with whom the Baan Dek Foundation works are enrolled in Thai public schools.
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“We have already seen the impact of these life skills, and now we are ready for scale.” —Allison Sanders
It is impossible for teachers and social workers to reach the 60,000 Burmese kids living in these conditions through face-to-face interaction alone. That’s why the Baan Dek Foundation is launching the Digital Superheroes Academy: An open source platform available on smartphones and tablets teaching these life skills as superpowers.
The platform will be available in the kids’ native languages, and there will be back-end monitoring to track their progress and figure out what works best for marginalized children and youth.
UNICEF Thailand is already partnering with the Baan Dek Foundation to publish a report on access to services for children living in construction site camps throughout Thailand, and several telecom providers are interested in giving free phone minutes and data to the target families to help their kids access the platform.
In September, Allison Sanders pitched the Digital Superheroes Academy at the Solve Challenge Finals and was selected as one of 11 Solver teams in the Youth, Skills, and the Workforce of the Future Challenge. Baan Dek also received the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) Indo-Pacific Development prize, which offers up to $1 million in grant funding for eight solutions working in developing countries in the Indo-Pacific region.
Celebrate the end of 2017 by watching Allison Sanders pitch the Digital Superheroes Academy at the Solve Challenge Finals:
Read the solution application for the Digital Superheroes Academy. Interested in partnering with them as they pilot and scale for global impact? Solve wants to hear from you. Reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Allison Sanders pitches the Digital Superheroes Academy at the Solve Challenge Finals in the Youth, Skills, and the Workforce of the Future Challenge, September 17, 2017. (Photo by Samuel Stuart / MIT Solve)