Competition Seeks to Develop Education App for Syrian Children Fleeing Conflict

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International partnership launches $1.7 million EduApp4Syria prize to help Syrian children learn to read

Washington, DC (January 29, 2016) - A Norway-led coalition today announced the launch of a 15 million Norwegian Kroner (approximately US$1.7 million) competition to help displaced Syrian children continue their education during the protracted conflict.

The EduApp4Syria competition will select up to five initial winners to develop a smartphone application that can build foundational literacy skills in Arabic and improve psychosocial well-being for Syrian refugee children aged five to 10. Up to two applications will be chosen for worldwide release after comprehensive development and testing. 

Millions of families have been forced to flee their homes since the beginning of the Syrian crisis. As a consequence, an estimated 2.8 million children in Syria or neighboring countries are out of school. Syrian children both in and out of school are living under the extreme stress of a protracted conflict, and many are experiencing learning difficulties as a result.

“We know that almost all Syrian households tend to own smartphones,” said Børge Brende, Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs. “The smartphone is a crucial tool for staying in touch with friends and family and for accessing important news and information. We also know that Syrian parents are extremely concerned about their children’s learning and wellbeing. That’s why we want to develop this game-based learning tool, which can be used wherever the children are.”

The competition is searching for an application that is highly engaging and user-friendly, so that young learners stay focused and have a positive and motivating experience playing the game.

The entertainment gaming industry is encouraged to get involved and form partnerships with other stakeholders that can result in new types of self-learning tools to supplement existing formal and nonformal educational programmes.

“Through this competition, the All Children Reading partners are eager to engage an innovative, new group of problem solvers to address the needs of Syrian children,” stated Richard Stearns, President of World Vision in the United States, a partner agency for the competition.  “Our hope is that this mobile app will reach these affected children, wherever they have fled, to improve their well-being and provide an avenue to continue learning to read.”

The competition is coordinated by the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad) and is being launched in cooperation with the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU); All Children Reading: A Grand Challenge for Development, a partnership including the United States Agency of International Development (USAID), World Vision and the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade; mobile operator Orange; and the Inter-Agency Network for Education in Emergencies (INEE).

For further information and to submit an application, please visit Applications for the prize are due April 1, 2016.