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Pitch

Challenge refugees' apathy, anger, alienation and fright by introducing reassuring inspiring inclusive carrier-boosting annual games #TIGRs

Description

Summary

This project presents an entirely novel concept which aims at transforming high levels of apathy, anger, alienation and worry found in refugees into positive energy focused on learning useful skills on an individual and team level. Effectively, the project encourages the individual seeking of knowledge related to a skill by providing material hope of bright futures within organized venues and using proper curricula support. This is done via organizing and administrating highly-skilled team-based competitive games focused on life-long carrier-boosting skills.

At present, rounds of competitive challenges (in subjects such as programming and photography) are organized between schools and students in many countries. While participating in such challenges is extracurricular for a national, it provides an essential motif for refugees highlighting opportunity, celebrating ability and focusing on personal capacity. Furthermore, participating in already established competitions (national or international) would provide access to proven tracks of success.

The International Games for Refugees (TIGRs) would include numerous competitive games in skills ranging from authorship to robotics to animation. Participation in such games would be voluntary and free of charge. Providing support and training would be necessary in some subjects (e.g. robotics) and not in others (e.g. animation). Depending on polices, competitions could be arranged A) solely within the refugees community highlighting personal ability, team work and the sense of belonging; or B) within the refugee and national communities with mixed membership teams highlighting equality while celebrating personal background and culture.

Unlike the Rio Olympics, where refugees participated raising awareness to the refugee crisis [1]; TIGRs aim to sustainably transform negative roadblocks hindering learning into positive life-long career-boosting skills.

What are the key outcomes and impact of your solution?

The TIGRs are designed to transform negative roadblocks hindering learning into positive life-long career-boosting skills.

Firstly, a level of hopelessness, despair and apathy will certainly develop due to observing total loss of the refugee’s families’ possessions undoubtedly affecting attitude towards learning. Highlighting hope of a bright future via the competitive games that suits one’s abilities will undoubtedly encourage the seeking of knowledge. Plus, observing other refugees succeed will have profound impacts on the outlook towards the future.

Secondly, a refugee would certainly acquire a level of anger and rage towards events which led to them becoming refugees, possibly leaving behind family members and loved ones. Left untreated, this anger alters priorities leaving learning and self-improvement with low urgency. Focusing on the “winning” aspect of the TIGRs will alleviate that low urgency, providing the short-term targets needed for a longer-term success.

Thirdly, many refugees experience loneliness, isolation and alienation arising from living in less-than-welcoming environments. These feelings, even when unfounded, may result in reduces learning effectiveness. Working in teams (just refugees or mixed refugee/nationals) is one way of combating that alienation. The TIGRs will also provide a sense of belonging to a large, diverse and full-of-potential community which could include millions of participants.

Fourthly, repeated episodes of fright and worry can cripple any attempt of learning rendering it pointless. TIGRs provide the adequate encouragement and short-term celebration of ability; as well as the realisation of one’s massive potential.

Finally, TIGRs encourage participants to show their best abilities in skills selected based on need in future jobs.

As a result of this non-invasive opportunity, the expected outcome is highly skilled individuals and teams ready to join the work force, competing with national and international job-seekers, with proven ability and worth.

The following metrics are to be tracked:

-          Number of games and frequency.

-          Number of refugees participating.

-          Number of teams participating in established competitions [2,3] and their ranking, i.e., effectiveness of any support given.

-          Number of invitations to participate in national and international competitions.

-          Number of invitations sent to foreign teams to participate in TIGRs.

-          Level of mixing with other national teams and the sense of equality observed.

-          Level of alienation and belonging.

-          Confidence in finding work in the future.

-          Overall advantages of TIGRs measured as the number of successful scholarships and/or jobs.

The last four metrics are self-reported by the participants by asking them to describe the impact of their participation on their lives.

What actions do you propose to realize your stated goals?

The following actions must take place; each action can be further decomposed into steps which can be discussed in details later.

-          Organize the online presence of TIGRs

A well thought-out website and hosting server are pivotal for the success of the project as many games training and teaching could easily be hosted online reaching each and every refugee that is connected to the internet. Moreover, specific targeted teaching content could be hosted on the server as well as supportive messages with the aims of the project which can be broadcast to the entirety of the community quite swiftly. Information regarding the participants can be safely and securely collected and analysed in order to improve the learning experience of each participant. Lastly, private communication with local on-site personnel can take place with ease.

However, it must be stressed that the website is not enough to provide all the support needed. The actual games must take place in reality where participants can feel the support of their peers, the equality against other teams and enjoy their own achievements.

-          Organize local competitions gradually from the easiest to organize to the most difficult.

In our opinion, programming and photography games are the easiest to organize. Plus, they provide direct work-related skills which could also be useful for the participants’ careers. For these reasons, organizing competitions in programming and photography should be a priority to be done in during pilot. Scaling this up to thousands or tens of thousands should be no problem provided they have access to the internet. These entry level competitions could rely on already available components such as online judges [4,5] and ready to use courses [8]. Final competitions must be held in reality with strict rules signifying the importance of these games.

It is understood that these types of competitive challenges will require a sort of support, which can be carried out in three main types:

1)      Direct mentoring: Each type of games may have a certain authority and teaching staff (who could be volunteers or paid personnel, nationals or refugees) helping participants in a controlled and safe environment such as the computer room in a school or a dedicated computer centre in a refugee camp, dubbed local learning hubs hereinafter.

2)      MOOCs: Drawing on the success of the Massively Open Online Courses (MOOCs) [6] which are sweeping across the globe, teaching content can be generated by paid or volunteer educators and accessed by the participants at any time and any pace. These MOOCs should be translated into the participants own mother tongues.

3)      Online Support: where the teaching staff can interact directly with the participants using online tools (such as email or discussion groups).

Competitions in other skills should follow based on the relevance of the skill towards future careers and the possible inclinations of the participants towards the skill: maths, entrepreneurial and fundraising, authorship and journalism, App development, web development, data science, robotics, science, other arts (e.g., animation).

It should be noted that for some of these skills, already established competitions for different ages and levels exist on national and international levels. Giving the refugees the same opportunity as any other national seems only fair. For this reason, when an international competition already exists, then the refugee games will model themselves based on the international games with the aim of producing refugee teams able to participate in the international competition as a special UN team.

-          Selecting and Training the teaching staff.

For the most part, the administration could be done by local teachers and university students volunteering their time and efforts either online or on-site. However, for specific high-skill competitions, we will need to train the teaching staff or employ already trained teaching staff. This will be different for different skills. In programming competitions, the teaching staff must already be conversant in computer programming and willing to be trained to teach and use the facilities available (depending on the facilities available). For other skills, the requirements will be different. Overall, in each location (whether a city or a refugee camp) a number of members of the teaching staff must be available at some time before the actual competition. It must be noted that the same teachers might be used across different sites (within or across political borders).

-          Contact previous refugees who have succeeded in their fields, especially competition winners

These individuals can provide much needed hope for new participants in the project. In fact, most of the work in the project is directed at giving hope in success and successful future. In this respect, previous examples are much inspiring. Such individuals will be asked to promote motivational messages to be posted online and sent to the participants; as well as participating in the TIGRs event by being present and interacting with the refugee participants.

-          Contact established competitions’ organizers in order to arrange the addition of refugee teams or mixed refugee/national teams.

In national competitions, refugees should be allowed to compete alongside nationals either by entering as sole refugee teams or by entering within any team. As for the international competitions, especially those organised by nationality and geographical regions, then the refugees should compete as special UN teams.

A complete list of the currently established competitions can be found in this spread-sheet.

-          Contact and advertise to potential participants.

Any age-appropriate refugee should have the opportunity to participate as per their ability and free time. Online call to participate could be issued and refugees can be contacted either directly at UN posts or via adverts on Facebook and Google. Reaching the target audience may require more interesting techniques than telling students in local schools. Although, telling students in local school might be good enough for the pilot stage.

-          Organize participants, teams and teaching staff.

Once known or registered, the participants must be organized into teams and provided with the needed training support before the actual TIGRs take place.

-          Organize TIGRs event

The final task would be the actual organization of the games setting dates, venues, participants, traveling instructions, etc… This event would take place with the maximum publicity focusing on achievements and scale of the refugee community and how the TIGRs help learning career-boosting skills.

Who will take these actions?

As described before, different actions must take place:

-          Organize the online presence of TIGRs

The TIGRs team along with skilled website designers would work together in order to deliver the useable, secure and responsive (light) website.

-          Organize local competitions gradually from the easiest to organize to the most difficult.

The TIGRs team along with experienced individuals who have organized such competitions in the past would work to organize the pilot of the project involving the first few TIGRs and measure their success.

-          Selecting and Training the teaching staff.

The TIGRs team will have to work vigilantly and on a case-by-case basis to insure the quality of the teaching staff reaching all the participants.

-          Contact previous refugees who have succeeded in their fields, especially competition winners

The TIGRs team would contact such individuals. However, it is up to them to decide to support this project.

-          Contact established competitions’ organizers in order to arrange the addition of refugee teams or mixed refugee/national teams.

The TIGRs team will contact such organizations. However, it is up to them to decide to support this project. Also, the UN must approve the proposal of refugee teams competing as special UN teams.

-          Contact and advertise for potential participants.

The TIGRs team, supported by the UNHRC and local authorities in selected countries, will make these contacts.

-          Organize participants, teams and teaching staff.

The TIGRs team and on-site personnel will do such organization.

-          Organize TIGRs

The TIGRs team will need much help delivering this event from event-organization firms.

Any other help would be much appreciated.

Target geography

The target demography of such project is all refugees of school and university age. However, there might be age and level restrictions to entering specific games. For instance, it is unreasonable to place elementary school students against college students in a Maths game.

As for the geography, the first aim of such project is the Middle East refugee population; especially those fleeing Syria (approaching 5 million) into neighbouring Turkey (2.8M), Lebanon (1M) and Jordan (0.6M). Please note that the project can scale up to cover the entirety of the refugee population in stages based on regional communities. However, it must be done in a way that gives priority to poorer communities, such as the Middle Eastern and African communities as opposed to the European communities. 

What do you expect are the costs associated with piloting and implementing the solution, and what is your business model?

Piloting this project will take one year. In which at least one TIGRs competition is to be held. We assume the pilot will be in Turkey for Syrian refugees with pilot skills covering Programming and Photography as will be described in the Timeline section. The pilot is projected to cover around 1,000 participants in the first year and draw media attention and academic interest in TIGRs attracting sponsorship and funding opportunities as described below.

The costs of the pilot are (all costs cited are tentative):

- Building the TIGRs website. We believe that such type of website costs up to $5,000.

- Building self-paced MOOCs, supportive learning materials and downloadable content for the pilot skills. MOOCs often cost tens of thousands [7], we aim to keep the cost down by reusing good examples of established online content, such as Khan Academy [8] and Coursera [9], as well as depending on Turkish and Syrian production teams. We estimate that the said content could be compiled for as little as $7,500.

- Leasing local learning hubs. The cost of leasing one learning hub for a day should not exceed $50 according to websites advising tourists on how much to expect to pay in cafes and internet cafes. For this reason, the option to book such hubs should be negotiated based on demand of participants and bookings should be made when there is need.

- Organizing and running the TIGRs event which will include inviting inspiring and successful refugees, representative of already established competitions, the media, and the teams themselves in a uniting and empowering two-day event. The cost of which is estimated to be no less than $25,000.

- Recruiting volunteers and spreading information on-site reaching as many refugees as possible. We estimate the cost to be around $2000.

- Other setting up, communication and travel expenses, around $3,000.

- Staff salaries and any contractors’ fees, around $20,000.

The total expected budget for the pilot as laid here is $62,500 for the first year. That is $62.5 per participant and spanning two games with potential learning of career-boosting skills.

Maintaining this project and expanding it to new refugee communities will entail much more expenses. On one hand, we aim to provide free entry for refugees. On the other, leasing learning hubs, training teaching staff and organizing an event is costly. Therefore, continuous support from sponsors is vital for this project. The way we see it is as follows: launching the project could be supported by UNHRC, a form of charity or crowd funding campaigns and the continuation of the TIGRs needs be supported by sponsorship (local or global). Other online fund-raising opportunity might be of help for teams in some cases (i.e., funding of travel expenses).

Replicating this model for more refugee communities require little work on the website and much work on-site. However, it would be very interesting to see this model scale across the different skills by offering different types of games.

Timeline

Piloting this project will take one year. In which at least one TIGRs competition is to be held. We assume the pilot will be in Turkey for Syrian refugees with pilot skills covering Programming and Photography. The pilot will include these tasks:

-          Setting up a representative online presence for the TIGRs team in English and Arabic.

-          Setting up motivational sections of the website, describing the opportunity for a brighter future via diligence and persistence in learning useful skills.

-          Setting up sections of the website dedicated to the pilot tasks along with step-by-step learning content and representative challenges plus links to helpful resources.

-          Negotiating the lease of internet-ready centres (or learning hubs) for refugees lacking proper internet access. These hubs could include computer rooms and yards of schools and universities as well as local cafes and internet cafes which would be leased to the TIGRs for one day a week (e.g. Saturdays).

-          Developing the relevant self-paced MOOCs.

These tasks are planed over a six months period followed by the launch of the website along with:

-          Spreading the message amongst refugees, letting them know of the intent of the TIGRs team of setting up the games and giving them directions of signing up, starting their learning and staying in touch.

-          Spreading the message amongst schools, university members, etc… looking for interested parties for teaching and couching refugee teams.

-          Contacting already established competitions’ organizers requesting the inclusion of refugee teams on national and international levels.

The final stages of the pilot is the actual organizing of the TIGRs allowing enough training time for  the winning teams to participate in already established competition. For instance, the IOI (programming) takes place in December [10]; the ACPC (programming) takes place in November [11] and the SWPA (photography) closes in January.

Related solutions

http://solvecolab.mit.edu/challenges/2016/learn-refugee-education2/c/solution/1329027

The proposal includes the use of MOOCs and other digital platforms

http://solvecolab.mit.edu/challenges/2016/learn-refugee-education2/c/solution/1329169

The proposal includes the use of self-paced MOOCs stored on local storage for areas with no internet access.

http://solvecolab.mit.edu/challenges/2016/learn-refugee-education2/c/solution/1329218

The proposal suggests a skill-based market where they can find work based on their self-acquired skills.

The Rio Olympics participation [1]

Unlike the refugees’ participation in the Rio Olympics, which was aimed at raising awareness to the refugee crisis; TIGRs aim to sustainably transform negative roadblocks hindering learning into positive life-long career-boosting skills via offering training and venues of demonstrating ability.

References

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Solution Summary
TIGRs: The International Games for Refugees (Pronounced: "Tigers")
Team Solution: Only members listed on the Solution's Contributors tab will be able to edit this Solution. Members can request to join the Solution team on the Contributors tab. The Solution owner can open this Solution for anyone to edit using the Admin tab.  
By:  The TIGRs team
Challenge: Learn: Refugee Education
How can we improve learning outcomes for refugee and displaced young people under 24?