TSF provides remote learning to Syrian children as Covid-19 closes schools

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The telecoms industry’s charity, Télécoms Sans Frontières, has set up a distance learning programme so that refugee children from Syria can continue their education.

Télécoms Sans Frontières (TSF), which Capacity and other industry members have supported for many years, has had to suspend operations in its existing schools in the Turkish city of Gaziantep because of Covid-19 – but has replaced them with distance learning systems.

“Education systems around the world have been developing distance learning solutions to continue schooling during the pandemic, but there are millions of children who cannot afford this luxury,” said Monique Lanne-Petit, who co-founded TSF 22 years ago and is the organisation’s director.

TSF has been providing schooling for seven years, to help children who have escaped from the long Syrian civil war.

“Syrian children have already missed years of education. Victims of a real war since 2011, they are so eager to learn, so aware that education will provide them a form of freedom, that they cannot afford another interruption,” Lanne-Petit told Capacity.

But the system TSF developed allows children to continue learning at home, with the local team in contact with by WhatsApp groups. They use an online platform specially developed by TSF technicians for distance learning, providing courses in Arabic, mathematics and computer science.

“The system we developed provides them access to digital means and resources to continue learning and build their future,” Lanne-Petit told Capacity.

TSF’s teachers in Gaziantep – about 40km from the Syrian border – send resources, exercises and video tutorials to the children every day, and provide regular feedback on their work.

For families without smartphones or computers at home, TSF provides free internet data packages and tablets so that everyone can continue their distance learning. According to TSF, 80% of the pupils are active and the parents are satisfied with the process.

TSF, based in Pau in south-west France, is a member of the United Nations Emergency Telecommunications Cluster (UNETC), a partner of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), and a member of the US State Department’s Advisory Committee on International Communications and Information Policy.

Capacity will be providing regular updates on TSF’s work during the Coronavirus pandemic.