These educational apps will help millions of Syrian refugee kids learn and play

Two new apps won an international technology competition to help Syrian refugee children learn, play and cope with trauma.

The mobile games Antura and the Letters and Feed the Monster received top honors for EduApp4Syria, which leverages the widespread availability of smartphones to develop free, educational alternatives for millions of Syrian children forced out of school due to conflict.

The competition is a joint effort from the Norwegian government, the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad) and several global nonprofit partners. The winners were announced last week to coincide with UNESCO’s Mobile Learning Week.

“We wanted to find new, effective and innovative ways to meet the critical need for literacy learning options for the estimated 2.5 million Syrian children whose education have been disrupted by six years of conflict,” said Børge Brende, Norwegian minister of foreign affairs, in a statement. “We must act now or we stand to lose an entire generation with huge long-term developmental effects.”

This year’s EduApp4Syria jury decided to choose two winners, because each app offered a different but equally impactful approach, style and gameplay.

Antura and the Letters helps kids ages 5-10 learn Arabic with Antura, a dog who loves adventure. The goal is to solve puzzles and earn prizes on the way to catching Arabic letters hidden around the world. The game doesn’t require Wi-Fi access, so children can play anywhere.

Feed the Monster, whose developers include the International Rescue Committee, has kids collect and raise pet monsters, all while learning fundamental Arabic reading and writing skills. Once downloaded, children can play the game offline.

Both games are free and less than 100 MB, which makes them easier for Syrian families to download wherever they are — whether it’s a refugee camp or a school in a non-Arabic-speaking country.

And, like all the games funded by the EduApp4Syria project, the winning apps are open-source and available on GitHub, in an effort to “encourage maximum use and further creativity.” That means the apps could be adapted for languages other than Arabic, helping a wider range of refugee children.

The Syrian conflict entered its seventh year this month, officially making it longer than World War II. According to the U.N. refugee agency (UNHCR), there are currently more than 4.9 million Syrian refugees around the world, half of whom are children.

EduApp4Syria not only tries to offer educational alternatives for these children, but also apps that help them cope with the stresses associated with war and traumatic journeys. Research shows that the refugee experience often leads to complex mental health needs, especially for children. Exposure to such trauma can have drastic, long-term effects, including learning difficulties.

The two winning games were designed to motivate Syrian children as well as educate them, offering a wholly positive learning experience.

(READ MORE)

Source: Mashable

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