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Journey to scale: a digital game based learning approach for children in humanitarian settings

Tue, April 16, 8:00 to 9:30am, Hyatt Regency, Floor: Bay (Level 1), Bayview B

Group Submission Type: Refereed Round-Table Session


Access to quality education is essential for children’s academic, social, and emotional outcomes. However, 1 in 10 children live in areas affected by armed conflict and, in these regions, 32 million children are out of school. Innovative and scalable solutions are required. We will present on a combination of elements – research, value for money, expertise and other scale up factors – needed to identify, test and realise these solutions, using the Can’t Wait to Learn (CWTL) programme’s journey to scale as a working example of an expanding education in emergencies programme.

CWTL is a curriculum-based, digital game-based learning programme that teaches children numeracy and reading. It has been developed by War Child Holland (WCH), TNO, Ahfad University for Women, UNICEF, Ministries of Education and additional local and international partners, and is designed to tackle some of the specific challenges of delivering accessible and quality education in humanitarian settings. Prior pilots of CWTL in Sudan indicated positive preliminary results. Yet questions remained about the comparability and feasibility of implementing the programme across different settings, the feasibility of teaching reading, and factors to consider when implementing at scale, including partnership, cost effectiveness and sustainability.

Building on results and lessons of the initial pilots, WCH and partners conducted a comprehensive series of studies in Jordan, Sudan, and Lebanon. The WCH Research and Development (R&D) department and American Institutes for Research (AIR) will present results of quantitative outcome measures and qualitative interviews across sites.

Supplementing the studies outlined above, WCH measures cost-effectiveness of the existing programme as well as its potential to offer cost-effectiveness at scale. Based upon UKAID’s Value for Money (VfM) framework, Amir Jones, former Education Development Trust and now independent education economics consultant will present the updated VfM results following the recent studies in Jordan, Lebanon and Sudan. This will also include discussion of VfM indications for the programme in Uganda. Challenges and opportunities for developing education in emergencies programmes designed to produce economy, efficiency and effectiveness at scale, while reaching some of the most vulnerable children and youth, will be discussed.

The challenges of scaling programmes within the education in emergencies sector, particularly those of an innovative quality, are well-known. The UKAID-funded, UNICEF and UNHCR-led Humanitarian Education Accelerator (HEA) is focusing on expanding and strengthening the evidence base of education in emergencies and also identifying scaling drivers. CWTL is one of five programmes chosen to join the HEA. Ian Gray, HEA Mentor, will provide insight into scaling across the education in emergencies sector. AIR have supported teams across the HEA initiative to evaluate their innovations, and will share their findings across all programmes. They will use CWTL as an example, but also draw on parallels with other programmes both within the education and humanitarian sectors.

The findings of our research programme contribute vital knowledge to the sector on the potential effects of CWTL, as well as barriers and facilitators to developing and delivering effective and accessible solutions for education in emergencies at scale.

Discussants: Christine Capacci-Carneal, and Stefanie Kendall, USAID Middle East bureau.
Chair: Christine Capacci-Carneal, USAID Middle East bureau.

Panel biographies:

Jasmine Turner is research project coordinator for CWTL in WCH’s R&D department. Her background is in global mental health, in which she obtained an MSc in from King’s College London and London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and education in low-resource settings. In her current role, Jasmine is responsible for developing the data collection tools, operationalising standard operating procedures, training research assistants, coordinating data collection and contributing to data analysis.

Felicity Brown, PhD is Senior Researcher and clinical psychologist in WCH’s R&D Department and co-Principal Investigator for WCH’s CWTL studies. At WCH she has led research projects in mental health and psychosocial support, and education, in Sudan, Lebanon, and Jordan. Through prior positions at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and the World Health Organization, she has contributed to the development and evaluation of scalable psychological interventions for children, families, and adults in Uganda, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, and Boston.

Amir Jones is an economist and educationalist with twelve years’ professional experience, including teaching, advising governments, donors and NGOs and conducting in-depth quantitative and qualitative research into a variety of topics. He has particular expertise in evaluating value for money of education programmes and has been advising the CWTL programme in this area since 2014.

Ian Gray is the Founder of Gray Dot Catalyst, a strategy and innovation consultancy. Before founding Gray Dot Catalyst Ian spent the previous 15 years in the humanitarian and development sectors as a leader in the areas of Humanitarian Response, and Organisation Strategy, Policy and Innovation. He works as a mentor to programmes engaged in the Humanitarian Education Accelerator, holds an M.A. (Hons), MSc (Econ), M.B.A. and is studying for his PhD.

Chris Capacci Carneal, PhD has worked for USAID for 13 years. She began in the Asia and Near East Bureau but has dedicated the past 7 years to supporting USAID's Education programs in the Middle East. Prior to USAID, Chris worked for Catholic Relief Services and Save the Children's Sahel Field Office. Chris has a Ph.D. in International Development Education from Florida State University and an MA from American University's School for International Service. Chris began her career in international education with the Peace Corps when she served as a school health educator in the Central African Republic.

Stefanie Kendall, PhD came to USAID in 2011 and has served as the Education Officer in Iraq and most recently as Regional Education Officer for the Middle East and North Africa based in Frankfurt, Germany. Before that she taught for 19 years, including at primary, high-school, and vocational training, and Masters level, in the USA and Kuwait. Stefanie has her PhD in Teaching and Learning in Conflict and Post-Conflict from Michigan State University, which investigated the ways that teachers and school administrators along the Israel/Gaza line and in Northern Ireland support their students beyond class time and the classroom.

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