Solution Overview

Solution name:

Azima for Syrian Refugee Children (ASRC)

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One-line solution summary:

ASRC provides skills-based learning & psychosocial support to the most vulnerable Syrian refugee children in Lebanon to facilitate future opportunities.

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Which Challenge does your solution most closely address?

Scalable Innovations for Blended Learning: How can evidence-based blended learning solutions be scaled in low-resource contexts?
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Pitch your solution.

This project will take a high-impact online learning curriculum recognised by Edtech Hub & UNHCR, from an ongoing project and adapt it to the most vulnerable out-of-school children in Lebanon. These children have often been out of school for too long to rejoin formal education, they work in basic labour such as sweet sellers and tin collectors and have little opportunity for advancement.  The project will target Syrian refugee children aged 7-12 to teach the most critical literacy and numeracy skills, and practical skills such as keeping safe on the streets, to increase access to vocational training and apprenticeships. The curriculum will be adapted based on needs-assessments and delivered through Whatsapp to provide critical flexibility needed for working children. Children who are most in need will receive psychosocial support to help them gain maximum benefit from the program. The target children worry about finding food for themselves and their family and escaping abuse; this project will have a large and sustainable impact on their families and futures. The findings of this project will be shared with the humanitarian community through a report/ handbook to fill vital evidence gaps in using technology to educate working children in complex settings.

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In what city, town, or region is your solution team headquartered?

Beirut, Lebanon
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Our solution's stage of development:

Pilot
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Is this a new solution, an existing solution, or an adaptation of an existing solution?

Adaptation of an existing solution
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How does your solution incorporate research?

Our solution has been built on an evidence-based process that used research in the first instance, followed by an experiment to test and validate the hypothesis drawn out from that research.

We started by conducting a survey with Jusoor beneficiaries who did not exhibit any engagement in distance education to understand the learning barriers that they faced. The survey was conducted with both children and their caregivers, and concluded that the absence of a technological device was the chief reason behind the children’s lack of participation. The respondents proposed that access to technology and/or a financial assistance as the top solutions would allow them to resume or initiate the learning process. Based on these findings, we conducted an experiment whereby we offered all families in one of Jusoor’s centers an unconditional cash amount to spend as they see fit, and gave them the option to use that sum to rent a smartphone and/or a data card procured by Jusoor. More than half of the beneficiaries (57%) went for a non-monetary option. Once the distribution was completed, we tracked the change in students’ attendance and conducted a post-distribution short survey with caregivers. The attendance numbers showed an overall increase of 16% in participation in the two weeks following the distribution. The increase was the highest among the students whose families chose the combination of smartphone & data card (28%). At the same time, the survey with caregivers revealed that those who selected the combination of smartphone & data card exhibited the highest satisfaction with their choice. As such, the solution we would like to apply has been tested and confirmed by this rigorous evidence-based approach, and we will continue collecting and using data to further inform and improve our model and offering. 

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Who is the Team Lead for your solution?

The project will be managed by Academic Director of Jusoor’s Refugee Education Program Suha Tutunji,

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More About Your Solution

What makes your solution innovative?

Due to COVID-19, an increasing number of schools and NGOs are delivering education through online platforms. At Jusoor we had a digital divide challenge as refugee children often do not have access to devices or even the internet. The Azima program was created on this basis, providing technology and choosing applications children were most familiar with and could be used as an interface for learning. Azima was recognised for its excellence and chosen to be developed and rigorously tested through the Sandbox project in collaboration with the UNHCR, the EdTech Hub which facilitates innovation, and funded by DFID. 

The proposed solution will take the Azima program to the next level and adapt our current program to test and validate it on the most vulnerable, hard-to-reach children. By adapting the program and trialing it on one of the most difficult to reach target groups, Jusoor will provide a unique service and fill a critical evidence gap. If this project has a high impact Jusoor will scale in Lebanon to target 1,000 children. After evaluating and improving on the design based on the scaled evidence this project can then be piloted in other countries such as Jordan or Turkey. The reports will be shared with relevant stakeholders and, if successful, a handbook will be created so that the program can be replicated by others across the world. 

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What is your theory of change?

Our theory of change is that if the Azima project is: adapted to the needs of children without access to education (incorporating the specific challenges faced by children based on needs assessments), evaluated as having a high impact, and disseminated to other stakeholders (including a report and handbook which includes curriculum and methodology), then Jusoor and the wider community of practice will have a safe, proven approach and tools that can be replicated and applied in a wide range of complex settings to provide the most vulnerable children with opportunities. 

The adaptation component of the theory of change is based on Jusoor’s expertise in the region and focus groups conducted by Jusoor and others: UNHCR data shows refugee households are approximately 50% less likely to have an internet-enabled phone. This project will therefore provide mobiles and data, as well as other equipment such as booklets and stationery. The flexibility of online learning was also identified as critical - children do not have the time to attend an education centre in-person even on a flexible basis. Whilst there has been a lot of focus on new apps for refugees, access is still critical, and utilising those popular in the community is more likely to have success. 

The evaluation component will be done through constant monitoring and evolution of the program between cycles according to feedback and test scores. Finally, the dissemination will include a report of the impact and lessons learned which will detail the curriculum and methodology. Once the project is evaluated, a handbook will also be created and shared as a public good which will be a step-by-step guide of how to implement a similar program. 

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Select the key characteristics of your target population.

  • Children & Adolescents
  • Poor
  • Refugees & Internally Displaced Persons
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In which countries do you currently operate?

  • Jordan
  • Lebanon
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In which countries do you plan to be operating within the next year?

  • Jordan
  • Lebanon
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What are your impact goals for the next year and the next five years, and how will you achieve them?

The intended impact is at least 3,400 children without access to education will be directly targeted. Guidelines will be shared and Jusoor will assist other organizations, in the MENA region and around the world (translation of the curriculum will be needed) to implement this project targeting at least another 2,000 children making the total impact well over 5,000 children in the first two years, and many more in years to come.

2021: Pilot Azima outside the Jusoor community (100 children in two groups 50(m)/50 (f), 4 months each) 

2022: Re-run pilot (50 continuing, 50 new)

2022: Scale in Lebanon (1000) 

2023: Pilot into another country eg., Jordan / Turkey (100)

2024: Scale within the country (1000)

2024: Scale to a third country (100 pilot, 1000 scale)

Between these stages, the project will be updated according to lessons learned, and Jusoor will publicize guidelines and assist in training in 2022.

This project targets children without access to education who have been out of school for more than one year. This includes working children whose families cannot afford basic necessities. 84% of the working children in Lebanon reported being worried that their household would not have enough to eat, 13% are exposed to physical and verbal abuse, and 12% to psychological distress (IPRC, and LPC, 2021). This program offers a unique opportunity to gain basic skills needed to access further training and decent wage employment. This will have a large and sustainable impact on their families and futures.

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What barriers currently exist for you to accomplish your goals in the next year and in the next five years?

The current barrier for us in achieving our goal is financial. We have a scalable solution with Azima for Syrian Refugee Children which we can adapt to the needs of out-of-school children once the funding is available.

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How do you plan to overcome these barriers?

Jusoor has been approaching a variety of donors who are  targeting innovative solutions in education, prioritising Syrian refugees children, or solutions to reach out-of-school children who are unable to access education, to seek funds to scale up the Azima program. To ensure the donors have confidence in the solution Jusoor has ensured rigorous testing through the Sandbox project supported by UNHCR and DFID. Jusoor will also be pitching this solution as an open source with the donors which means that other NGOs will have access to the curriculum and training developed ensuring that the solution reaches vulnerable out of school children in different geographies.

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Solution Team

 
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