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Educational technology in challenging contexts

Thu, March 26, 1:45 to 3:15pm, Hyatt Regency Miami, Floor: 3rd, Stanford

Group Submission Type: Formal Panel Session (English)


For several decades, the Sahel has faced two main challenges : significant increase in insecurity and the climate change. Climate change has speed up desert encroachment, resulting in extreme droughts that have often been catalysts to Tuaregs’ insurgencies in Mali. Natural resource scarcity has enhanced local conflicts and increased food insecurity, preventing populations from accessing social services, especially education-related services.
As a direct result of insecurity, schools closed and teachers fled. In the rare event where schools stay open, experienced teachers are lacking and are often replaced by volunteers from the community. Unexperienced teachers are also promoted to school principals without prior training on specific tasks and responsabilities. School administration has difficulties in monitoring and supporting schools due to both geographical and security reasons.
In such challenging contexts, education projects have to focus on both access and quality simultaneously, more so than in peaceful contexts. Quality is needed to restore trust in schools and respond to specific needs of children and teachers affected by conflict and climate change. Providing equal access to quality education to hard-to-reach populations requires revised strategies and inputs. This panel will present how USAID/Mali ERSA and the UNICEF funded Project for an improved access to quality education in conflict-affect communities in Mali have used different technologies to achieve this goal in reaching a wide range of people despite the challenging context.
ERSA is a 5 year-initiative (2015-2020) designed by USAID to be a short-term, transitional response to an emergency situation, addressing the needs of children and youth whose education has been disrupted by conflict, with the assumption that the conflict was over. When the project began in 2015, there was hope that the conflict would be over and that schools would re-open. Unfortunately, the conflict has continued, which has required adaptation of the project strategies to the realities on the ground.
The first aim is to reintegrate more than 10,000 out-of-school children (OOSC) into the formal education system through an accelerated education program. ERSA also aims to provide basic education, life skills, and livelihood training for approximately 2,800 out-of-school youth (OSY) (15-25 years old). These educational opportunities are designed and implemented with intentionally conflict-sensitive strategies that promote resilience, peace-building and inclusivity.
ERSA included technology in all of its components to provide more support to targeted populations:
- Improving instructional practices and attitudes of AEP facilitators through the individual use of self-training videos on tablets.
- Improving students’ reading skills in French through playful Interactive Audio Instruction programs used by the facilitator with their students in AEP centers or by regular teacher in formal school
- Improving youth skills in literacy, numeracy, and entrepreneurship through the use of interactive lessons
- Supporting youth entrepreneurship with a soap operas that chronicles the efforts of two youth to launch a market gardening business (including their problems and challenges and how they resolved them).
- Enhancing youth engagement for their community through peer education based on audio programs.
The ICT component of the UNICEF funded Project for an improved access to quality education in conflict-affect communities in Mali (UNICEF/PAAQE) has been designed by UNICEF and Education Development Center in order to develop professional skills of formal school administrators and educators in ERSA intervention areas and in Center of Mali. Thanks to this funding, EDC developed self-training materials for district-level ministry officers, for school principals and for teachers.
During this panel, presenters will present each of these technological inputs and participants will be able to try using them. For each input, presenters will discuss its justification, explain the format of multimedia materials, describe how they are conceived and produced, and share main successes. Over three years, the complementarity between USAID/ERSA and UNICEF/PAAQE allowed to reach a large number of beneficiaries, educators and learners, youth and children, in both formal and non-formal system.
The final discussion will allow the audience to share their own experiences in using technologies in such challenging contexts. In particular, attendees will be invited to explain challenges they faced and how they adressed them and to discuss opportunities.
Participants will be invited to discuss how to institutionalize and make such inputs systematic in all educational sectors (formal, non formal, primary/secondary, pre-service or continuous teacher training).

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