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Mobile phone app increases access to education for refugees

June 20, 2013

There are currently 45.2 million refugees and internally displaced persons worldwide, each of whom have been uprooted from their homes and face the challenge of finding essentials such as food, water, shelter and medicine on a daily basis. Of those 45.2 million people, 46 percent are under the age of 18 and at risk of not receiving a basic education.

FHI 360’s custom-developed “Kmobile Schools” app, designed for the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), provides information on the education facilities and resources that are vital in rebuilding children’s lives. Attending school offers protection and structure in times of instability and helps children retain a sense of normalcy and build a foundation for a better future.

With the Kmobile Schools app, partners and FHI 360’s working teams in the field use Android- based tablets or smartphones to collect education data on 16 critical education indicators about schools in refugee camps and select urban areas. These indicators include their exact locations and photographs, the number of students and teachers present, and the types of facilities and textbooks available. Once the data is uploaded from the tablets or phones using standard internet “hot-spots,” development organizations and policymakers can view the schools, along with key performance indicators and operating information, via Google Earth.

Before the app was developed, information on refugees, students and educational needs was either largely unavailable or gathered with paper surveys. The process was slow and often costly because it took partners longer to gather information, complete forms, transport paperwork and transfer data onto computers before even analyzing the surveys. By improving data collection, creating upload capabilities on tablets or smartphones, and providing near immediate presentation and data reports, Kmobile Schools has reduced the data collection and reporting time by at least 30 percent.

“What makes the Kmobile system unique is that it is an easy-to-use, open-source app designed specifically to gather information on refugees who are attending school,” said Kurt D. Moses, Director of Education Practice at FHI 360. “The ultimate goal is to show policymakers and implementers what is available in refugee education and place resources where they are most needed; providing more children with the opportunity to learn no matter where they are in the world.”

Learn more about the Kmobile Schools app.