MIKTA EiE Blog #5: How Save the Children is providing education digitally in the world’s largest refugee camp

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"I was heartbroken when I saw my friends studying, whereas I did not have any option to continue my study. At that moment, I had a feeling that I may not be able to [participate in] any educational activities anymore. However, AGNEE came and my dream got fulfilled”.

15 year old Shahina explains how she was unable to progress with her formal education following the death of her father, due to the expense.  Her family is Rohingya and they moved to Cox's Bazar 5 years ago.

She is one of around 1.2 million[1] Rohingya refugees from Myanmar that have settled across the border in Cox’s Bazar, Southern Bangladesh, the majority fleeing violence and brutality. Together, they effectively make up the world’s largest refugee camp.

Denied educational opportunities

Both Bangladeshi and Rohingya adolescent girls are commonly cut off from the world beyond their families after they reach puberty. They are denied their right to education and opportunities that will help them to develop the life skills that are essential to their development, safety, and wellbeing.

Save the Children Bangladesh's Adolescent Girls Non-Formal Education in Emergencies (AGNEE) project offered educational opportunities to vulnerable Rohingya and Bangladeshi girls aged 12 to 18 years living in Cox’s Bazar to help overcome these barriers.

 

Free, relevant and accessible digital content

The AGNEE project provided self-learning digital content aligned to the national curriculum via a Moodle learning platform through 3G internet connected tablets or smart phones, ensuring availability at home, free of cost and at convenient times.

The system was designed to provide educators, administrators and learners with a robust, secure and integrated system to create personalised learning environments.

For two and a half hours, five days a week, the girls attended a tutoring session at a nearby peer’s home to share their learning, with the facilitation of a tutor.

Tutors used a blended curriculum, including both textbooks and smartphones, to conduct Bangla, English, Numeracy and Social and Emotional Learning sessions that utilised learner-centred methodologies and personalised teaching approaches.

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Some of the 295 students that received tutoring through the AGNEE project share how it benefited them;

"We had a long cherished desire of speaking in English. We had a chapter of English learning which is a great help for us."

"We can study as well as have fun with our friends."

"We have forgotten things learnt in school. These lessons remind us of them."

Significant advances in learning

Testing measured the change in students' scores in Bengali, English and Mathematics for three cohorts of students admitted to the AGNEE project, between June 2018 and October 2019. Statistically significant improvements in learning were seen across all three cohorts of students, in all three subjects.

English proficiency improved by 27% for students in cohort 1, the first group of students to be engaged by the project, while proficiency in Bengali improved by 23.9% for the same group. Mathematics results improved by 17.6% for cohort 1 students.

The project also improved the self-esteem of students across all three cohorts. AGNEE girls demonstrated significant progress in identifying stress management strategies and displayed overall progress in emotional intelligence, by showing increased empathy.

Enlisting parents to support girls’ attendance and learning improves sustainability

 

The project involved parents, caregivers and community members in 20 Group Management Committees in three project areas. The GMC groups support girls’ attendance, sensitize community members about the project and obtain their support to mitigate any community challenges such as early marriage and bullying.

Abdul Kalam, a father of one of AGNEE’s students says “I try to make my daughter free from all household chores when she studies her lessons from home-based sessions delivered in AGNEE. I understand that her education was once stopped for many issues, but this time my family and I will support her fully as it is necessary for her to continue with her education,” says Kalam.

Engaging passionate educators to deliver a first-class education

Passionate tutors have been an important part of the project’s success. “By being associated with AGNEE, I have helped transform the girls, engaging them in productive activities. Now, they spend their time to learn new things. I really love to teach them,” said one tutor.

“The educational structure of AGNEE is first-class. I’m proud to be an AGNEE tutor,” said another tutor, Romana Akter.

The project has paved a way for AGNEE students to dream big and realise their full potential.

"I like AGNEE very much, it means a lot to me," says one student.

A unique model for the provision of community-based education in emergency settings

AGNEE represents a unique, innovative model for the provision of community-based education in emergency situations that has now been tested in multiple locations in Cox’s Bazar with a relatively small budget. This model can now be adapted and utilised in other emergency contexts or expanded in Cox’s Bazar and other locations in Bangladesh.

Save the Children's Adolescent Girls Non-Formal Education in Emergency (AGNEE) project was one of seven winners of the MIKTA (Mexico, Indonesia, Korea, Turkey, Australia) Education in Emergencies Challenge, which called for new ideas to improve access to education for children in emergency situations, particularly girls. The challenge was delivered with Australian Aid. Winners were announced in December 2017.

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