Monday September 16, 2019
Home Science & Technology Edu4syria: Sy...

Edu4syria: Syrian war-affected kids get a Digital way to Study

Thanks to war, over 4 million Syrian children are not in school and have never learned to read

1
//
Syrian children in Lebanese school. Image source Wikimedia commons
  • War trauma makes learning more difficult in kids, negatively affects memory, concentration and other cognitive abilities 
  • Edu4Syria is game-based learning app to reach kids, displaced inside Syria or refugees
  • The app will engage children and help them in motivational literacy learning games

With numbers that will certainly shock minds, the Syrian Center for Policy Research reports the killing of 250,00 to 470,000 people. Due to the war complexities and chaos, the United Nations announces that it stopped trying to track those killed saying it could no longer accurately confirm the number.

The destruction of Syria was summed up this way by a report released by the U.N. human rights agency released in February: “…Civilians bear the brunt of intensifying hostilities conducted by an ever-increasing number of warring parties. As their country is reduced to ruins around them, Syrian men, women and children – often the objects of deliberate attack – are fleeing their homes in an uncertain and often perilous search for safe haven.” And this estimate: over 4 million Syrian children are not in school thanks to the war.

Syrian army solider. Image commons Wikimedia commons
Syrian army solider. Image commons Wikimedia commons

Follow NewsGram at Twitter: @newsgram1

Kahoot. Image source Wikimedia commons
Kahoot. Image source Wikimedia commons

Enter Edu4Syria, a $1.7 million competition, run jointly by Norway, the United States and a small group of non-governmental organizations, to tap into the widespread use of smartphones and keep displaced Syrians learning.

It’s a simple idea: use game-based learning to reach kids – displaced inside Syria or refugees – whose education has stalled.

“We went to Gaziantep in Turkey near the border with Syria and spoke to lots of Syrian families about this project,” says Dr. Afl Inge Wang, who is leading the competition. “In one home we visited, the entire family lived in one room and the youngest daughter, aged about 12, had never learned to read. But she often played games on her older brother’s smartphone,” added Wang, a professor in game based learning at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, who co-invented the game platform Kahoot! 
Talking to war-affected children. Image source Wikimedia commons
Talking to war-affected children. Image source: Wikimedia commons

“Almost all Syrian households tend to own Smartphones,” said Børge Brende, Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs in an email to reporter Wang.

Follow NewsGram at Facebook: NewsGram

“We want to take advantage of this to make available engaging and motivational literacy learning games.”

War trauma can make learning more difficult, negatively affecting memory, concentration and other more nuanced cognitive stumbling blocks. So how does a smartphone game make a difference?

“Game-based learning can be an effective format,” said Liv Marte Kristiansen Nordhaug, senior adviser for the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation, which supports the competition.

The sounds and animation in a digital game stimulate the brain, Nordhaug said. “The ability to adapt the challenges to the learner’s level” is another factor, along with “the ability to engage and motivate…through immersive narrative and fun gameplay.”

In December, two winners out of five current finalists will be chosen. The apps, all in Arabic, will work on both Apple and Android Smartphones.

“We need to scale up existing efforts that we know already work—like expanding the constellation of non-formal education centers or providing stipends to Syrian teachers who can help fill the enormous demand for trained and talented instructors,” said U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Anthony J. Blinken during remarks made at Standford University earlier this year.

“And we continue to need game-changing new ideas—like classrooms on wheels or extra lessons on podcast or virtual schools.”

Wang is looking for apps that kids can connect with. And he warned developers not to underestimate their smarts.

“Kids will quickly detect it if standard learning approaches are dressed up as games. It’s like feeding them chocolate covered broccoli. So we want real games, with great game mechanics and narratives, that can help the children learn how to read and provide some psycho-social support.”

-by Vrushali Mahajan, (with inputs from VOA), intern at NewsGram. Twitter @Vrushali Mahajan 

ALSO READ:

  • devika todi

    such an initiative should always be encouraged.

Next Story

Apple Needs to Sell More Devices and Create More Desi Content to Bring More People into Its Ecosystem

In order to make deeper inroads into the Indian living rooms, Apple needs to sells more devices and create more desi content to bring in more people

0
Time, Box, Indians
Although Indians still spend nearly four hours a day watching TV, the shift to alternate screens is happening fast. Pixabay

The announcement of a cheaper Apple TV+ subscription — Rs 99 per month in India — has left the over-the-top (OTT) players a bit concerned but unless Apple strengthens its device ecosystem in the country, the real threat to players like Netflix, Amazon Prime or even the domestic players is still not there.

The original content streaming from Apple TV+ currently offers nine originals from the world’s most celebrated creative artists that will debut on the Apple TV app on November 1.

Apart from its own devices like iPhones, iPads and Macs, Apple will make the TV+ streaming available (via Apple TV app) on select Samsung smart TVs and Amazon Fire TV, LG and Sony platforms soon.

In order to make deeper inroads into the Indian living rooms, Apple needs to sells more devices and create more desi content to bring in more people into its ecosystem so that they can enjoy Apple TV+.

Apple, Sells, Device
The announcement of a cheaper Apple TV+ subscription — Rs 99 per month in India — has left the over-the-top (OTT) players a bit concerned but unless Apple strengthens its device ecosystem. Pixabay

The Indian entertainment scene is witnessing a seismic change with 30 over-the-top (OTT) platforms vying for space as players look to differentiate themselves, says a new KPMG report, adding that players like Netflix and Amazon Prime are aiming to create more desi content to bring more users to their platforms.

Massive capital commitments have been made by OTT platforms for building libraries of diverse original content over the last couple of years for the Indian audience.

Indian language internet users are expected to grow to 536 million by 2021 from 234 million in 2016.

As nine out of 10 new Internet users in India are likely to be Indian language users, it is vital for OTT players to cater to this audience in their native language, says the KPMG report, titled “India’s Digital Future: Mass of niches”.

Also Read- Engineers at MIT Creates Blackest of All Materials

Many OTT players are also investing in building their regional content libraries to match the demand.

For example, Prime Video has dubbed popular Hindi originals like “Inside Edge” and “Breathe” to Tamil and Telugu.

In addition to originals, Prime Video has also tried to increase depth in their regional library by dubbing English movies like “Alpa”, “Rampage”, etc. to Tamil and Telugu.

Similarly, Hotstar has used dubbing to launch the Hindi web-series “Criminal Justice” in six regional languages – Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Bangla, Malayalam and Marathi.

Apple, Sells, Device
The original content streaming from Apple TV+ currently offers nine originals from the world’s most celebrated creative artists that will debut on the Apple TV app on November 1. Pixabay

“OTT players like Netflix and Amazon prime have started hiring writers to add contextual flavour to dialogues in English in addition to launching regional web series,” said the report.

Much of the video viewing in India is happening in a local language and YouTube, which has 265 million unique, active users has reported that over 95 per cent of its users watched videos in a regional language.

In India, the over-the-top (OTT) leader Netflix plans to invest Rs 600 crore per year in originals whereas Amazon Prime had committed Rs 223 crore in 2017 for the next 2-3 years in the country.

For some original series, Amazon and Netflix are spending in the range of Rs 1-2 crore per episode.

Also Read- Facebook Reportedly Working On A TV Streaming Device

For example, per episode cost of original series, including ‘Made in Heaven’ and ‘Mirzapur’ on Amazon Prime was between Rs 1 crore-Rs 2 crore.

Apple, on the other hand, has reportedly planned to spend $6 billion on creating original content but mostly in English as of now as its fight is more domestic — like taking on Disney that is likely to unveil Disney+ service on November 12.

Apple TV+ will be available from November 1 in over 100 countries, including in India.

It will be available on the Apple TV app on iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, iPod touch, Mac and other platforms, including online at tv.apple.com.

Customers who purchase new iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, iPod touch or Mac can enjoy one year of Apple TV+ for free. (IANS)