Mobile Learning Week: Education and technology converge to provide solutions for displaced people

Mobile Learning Week, UNESCO’s yearly flagship ICT in education conference, opened on Monday 20 March 2017 at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris. Focusing on ‘Education in emergencies and crises’, this year’s event is organized in partnership with UNHCR and examines how new and affordable technologies can provide learning opportunities for displaced people around the world.

The sixth edition of Mobile Learning Week was opened by UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Education Qian Tang and UNHCR Representative in France Ralf Gruenert. Keynote addresses were delivered by H.E. Zhanyuan Du, Vice Minister of Education of the People’s Republic of China, and H.E. Laila Bokhari, State Secretary of Norway.

“We are witnessing the highest levels of displacement ever recorded,” said Mr Tang. “Education is uniquely important in emergency and crisis settings.”

Mobile Learning Week 2017 is designed to help global knowledge sharing and develop solutions that can be scaled to strengthen inclusion in education and keep the cycle of learning in emergencies. It will look specifically at how innovative mobile learning can effectively support learners, teachers and systems.

The five-day event will feature a symposium with 76 breakout sessions, exhibitions, and a mix of panel discussions and plenary addresses. It will highlight solutions that leverage technology to reach displaced learners, protect and maintain education in emergency settings and facilitate integration efforts.

“Our overall aim is that all refugees and the communities that host them have access to accredited, quality and relevant educational opportunities which are facilitated, supported or enhanced through mobile learning,” said Mr Gruenert. “These new learning environments will prepare refugees and displaced communities to fully engage in the economic, social and cultural world of tomorrow."

Solutions to reach displaced people where they are

The United Nations estimates that in 2015, 24 people were forced to flee their homes each minute - 4 times more than a decade ago. One in every 113 people globally has been displaced due to conflict or persecution and over half of the world’s refugees are children, many separated from their parents or traveling alone.

“It is our task to help find solutions to leverage this technology to reach people where they are, opening portals to learning and empowerment,” said Mr Tang. “This is what Mobile Learning Week is about: helping our Member States and other partners understand how to harness technology to strengthen education and promote lifelong learning, particularly for the most vulnerable.”

Mobile Learning Week will include workshops highlighting innovative mobile learning content, technology, research and projects. Strategy Labs designed to help guide the conceptualization and refinement of projects will be hosted jointly with partner organizations. A Policy Forum held in collaboration with UNHCR and ITU will bring together ministers of education, ministers of ICT and leaders from private sector companies to examine how governments can foster innovation in the education sector and facilitate the acquisition of e-skills, particularly for disadvantaged or displaced learners.

Learn more about Mobile Learning Week 2017 and join the conversation on Twitter via #MLW2017.