28 January 2015
by Anthony Bloome, Senior Education Technology Specialist, USAID
We know crises happen. Whether they happen because of health conditions, such as Ebola, or because of natural disasters or conflict, they can have profound and long-term consequences for students’ educational attainment and development in affected communities, particularly in lower income countries which are less able to absorb the shocks of crisis and conflict situations.
Having worked in the field of technology for international development for close to 20 years, I -- and many colleagues working in this space -- asked ourselves at the beginning of the Ebola crisis, “How might technology be leveraged to support education delivery when Ministries of Education and local education authorities close down schools for fear of spread of infection?”
As such, it was quite encouraging to hear about innovative uses of technology-supported programming, particularly the use of radio, that USAID implementing partners, such as Education Development Center, and other organizations including UNICEF, are using in Liberia to reach learners in hard hit communities. Technology can offer opportunities to reach and teach learners outside of traditional school settings in periods of such disruption.
With immediate impacts of the Ebola crisis still fresh in our minds, I’m so excited that the All Children Reading Grand Challenge for Development partners (USAID, World Vision and the Australian government) are being joined by UNHCR and Norad to launch an “ideation” challenge for technology-enabled approaches to provide basic education in crisis or conflict situations.
As co-launch partners of this challenge call, which has three “tracks” to cover: 1) health crisis, 2) natural disaster, and 3) conflict zones, we are seeking inputs from problem solvers from around the world with break-through ideas for technology-enabled solutions that can be used during the first six months following a crisis or conflict and be suitable for supporting educational delivery in low-resource settings.
While there are cash incentive prizes for those individuals and organizations with the most noteworthy “ideas” competitively selected through the ideation call, as co-launch partners we really hope that we help raise recognition of the most noteworthy ideas for possible implementation the next time crisis strikes.
If you have a good idea which you would like to submit to the ideation challenge call, please send it in – it’s only two pages -- and if you would like to join our efforts as partners, please let us know.
Anthony Bloome is a Senior Education Technology Specialist at USAID and the Campaign Director of All Children Reading Grand Challenge for Development.
Photo credit: Stacy Hughes