Azima: The Concept
The closure of schools in early March 2020 due to the pandemic threatened to disrupt learning for hundreds of thousands of children in Lebanon, including over 1,000 Syrian refugee children who attend classes at Jusoor’s education centers. In response, Jusoor’s Refugee Education Program team developed an innovative WhatsApp-based online learning program– Azima: Determined to Learn– adapting our existing curriculum to bring it online in a way that was accessible and impactful for the students and their parents.
This is done through a three-pronged approach of online learning, take-home learning, and virtual psychosocial support. Through WhatsApp groups between the parents and the teachers, short instructional videos and activities were sent out regularly. Students then sent their own photos of homework and videos back to the teachers for feedback and corrections. This is complemented with offline learning packets enabling the students to continue learning from home where the internet is not available, and psychosocial support is provided through videos and in-person calls by Jusoor’s dedicated psychosocial counselor.
- The program worked with over 900 of Jusoor’s students from March-December 2020 who access our non-formal education programs and support programs.
- 58% of the children regularly participated in the Azima program and made significant progress during this time towards learning outcomes in math, Arabic and English. At our Beirut Centre, the average assessment scores over the 4 classes ranged from 70-91%, showing a high level of aptitude despite the challenges of learning from home.
Azima 2.0: Continuing Our Mission
Exhausting working hours resulted in distancing many Syrian children from education, with no means of engaging in continuous learning experiences. Moreover, many of these students have no schools surrounding their homes, and can only receive their education using their smartphones, and an internet connection. Other children also face other challenges preventing them from continuing their education, including physical challenges or gender based challenges where some girls are culturally not allowed to continue their studies in school.
To address these challenges, and present the children with efficient solutions, Azima started sharing lessons and assignments through WhatsApp, using voice notes, pre-recorded videos, and exercises. Jusoor provides Azima students with a smartphone and an internet bundle that covers all connection costs. Students also receive stationery, exercise, and copybooks, as well as pens and pencils.
In Azima 2.0, students continue take part in learning the following subjects: mathematics, finances, Arabic literacy, and English. Additionally, we make sure they are fully aware of other essential life skills that they might need including safety at work, managing income, reporting abuse or mistreatment, and speaking up in times of distress and pressure.
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