Submitted by: Eija Alajarva, Head of Humanitarian Assistance, Finn Church Aid (FCA)
Introduction to the project
FCA implemented an education intervention in Greece in 2016-2018 to assist the most vulnerable refugees residing in the urban areas of the country.
The main project targeting vulnerable youth was Code+Create. This project successfully piloted open source computational classes for refugee and host community youth from 15 to 24 years old living in urban areas.
Working in highly developed urban areas gives opportunities for innovative approaches that utilize new technologies and enabled FCA to work with non-traditional partners, hence bringing new effective actors to humanitarian space.
Main activities of the Good Practice
In practical terms the project was implemented in 2 media labs in Athens. The beneficiaries were divided into 2 groups by age, from 15 to 17 and 18 to 24. The courses we ran lasted 2 months each, focusing on various subjects such as basics of coding, web design and 3Dprinting. The younger age group got an introduction to subject listed above, whereas the older groups’ teaching focused on more marketable skills. Each class consisted of 2 teachers, one site coordinator and 20 students (half locals, half refugees, with an aim of 50% girls).
Key activities were:
- Number of local and refugee children aged 15 to 17 were given 48 hours of teaching in a) introduction to coding through robotics and b) advanced coding using python
- Number of local and refugee youth aged 18 to 24 were given 48 hours of teaching in marketable skills, such as web design All software FCA in Greece used was open source. This lowered the costs for a media lab significantly
All software FCA in Greece used was open source. This lowered the costs for a media lab significantly.
GFOSS (Open Technologies Alliance) represents 36 Greek universities and their goal is to promote openness through the use and the development of Open Standards and Open Technologies. Code+Create curriculum and substance were developed by GFOSS.
Challenges and how they were overcome
In addition to teaching, open lab days should be held in order for the students to practice and catch up if needed. This is particularly important for the refugees since they most likely do not have an access to computers otherwise.
In addition the space can host short courses for those people with no previous understanding of computers. This was much needed in Greece and is no doubt needed in other contexts as well. This should however not be the main focus for Code+Create.
Phase 2 courses can be more demanding and marketable skills oriented. FCA in Greece had time to pilot a web design 2, but in order to create stronger linkages with needs of the job market and the skills the course offer this is unlikely to be enough.
Results of the Good Practice
Code+Create proved to be answering to both needs and desires of the target group. The project has a capacity to bring people together as well as break the barriers that deny vulnerable people’s access to new technologies. As such it has a tremendous capacity to enhance the impact humanitarian work particularly in urban settings with young refugee/IDP populations.
Due to the Code and Create youth are better able to visualize their potential and pursue future opportunities. Local and refugee youth have positive conceptions of people from other cultures improving the dialogue between refugee and host community populations. Youth were also given an opportunity to practice their conversational English and universal computing terminology.