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Tech tools for tough terrain: best practices, lessons learned, and new tools for education in crisis and conflict

Thu, April 18, 1:30 to 3:00pm, Hyatt Regency, Floor: Atrium (Level 2), Waterfront D

Group Submission Type: Formal Panel Session


There are many creative ways that ICT can be used to deliver educational services, even during times of conflict and crisis. However, this requires careful design. Not only must the technology often be stretched in new directions, it must also be deployed in a way that is conflict sensitive. Too often, a well-meaning intervention can have limited effect or, worse, actually exasperate a conflict.

This panel will review findings from practice in conflict settings, as well as share a newly developed research-driven tool. Panelists will share their custom designed ICT tools, created to manage book distributions in Afghanistan, local language reading apps in Somalia and distance-tutoring delivered to Syrian refugees in Turkey. The panel will also share a newly created analysis framework (designed for use as a checklist companion to the Principles of Digital development), created to help projects maintain a conflict sensitive ICT design and rollout.

Throughout this presentation, panelists will place special emphasis on how they designed their initiative to be conflict sensitive, and what lessons they learned in the process.

Crisis and conflict negatively affects the education of an estimated 80 million children worldwide. During times of conflict and crisis, children often do not go to school and once they are out of the education system, it is much harder for them to return. Challenges to an education system during and after times of conflict and crisis are significant and often include: large numbers of out of school children and youth; a lack of basic infrastructure; diminished access to trained teachers; and governments that are considerably under resourced to deal with such challenges. While it is well understood now that Information Communication Technology (ICT) alone is not the solution for these challenges, it can be a supportive factor for sustainable education programs and systems. ICT tools such as radios, tablets, computers, e-readers, mobile phones, and cloud-based software can be used to enable and support education provision to the most vulnerable during times of war, natural disasters, health emergencies and protracted crisis or conflict.
As access to technology grows, so does the opportunity to use ICT to support education programs in a variety of contexts. It is important to consider challenges faced and lessons learned from the variety of actors providing ICT supported education programs. This panel features programs by Creative Associates International, Save the Children Norway, and Paper Airplanes that will share ground truths from ICT supported education programs in crisis and conflict settings. The panelists will share stories of unique ICT designs, the challenges faced, impact and, of course, lessons learned. It will also feature a collaborative effort by ECCN and INEE to design a checklist to ensure an ICT design is conflict sensitive. This new tool will be made available for free adoption and use by practitioners, with the hope that they will share their piloting findings from different contexts so ECCN and INEE can improve future versions.

Toyama, Kentaro (2015). Geek Heresy: Rescuing Social Change from the Cult of Technology. New York, NY: PublicAffairs.
United States Agency for International Development, Education in Crisis and Conflict. Retrieved from

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