Lack of transportation, social prejudice, traditional gender roles and early marriage prevent girls in vulnerable communities from completing their education. Because Syrian refugees are often out of school for long periods of time, if they are able to reenter the classroom, many students find catching up on the years they missed too difficult and abandon their education. In Lebanon, 42% of Syrian refugee children are out of school.
Nayla’s approachDigital Learning
When Nayla was a French professor in Beirut, she volunteered at local hospitals to teach children with chronic illnesses. Realising these students could not go to school on a regular basis, Nayla decided to build a free e-learning platform called Tabshoura (meaning chalk) to help out-of-school children learn remotely. In 2014, she partnered with a colleague to found Lebanese Alternative Learning (LAL) to address learning gaps for vulnerable children. With LAL, Nayla has been at the forefront of developing innovative solutions for students with limited access to formal education.
In 2016, Nayla and LAL created an offline digital learning platform called Tabshoura in a Box. Powered by pocket-sized raspberry pi servers, the box is preloaded with educational content and has a built-in power bank meaning it works independent of internet and electricity, which is key for low-resource environments like refugee communities.
With her Malala Fund grant, Nayla developed STEM modules for Tabshoura aimed at Syrian adolescent girls ages 12-18. Using these digital lessons, out-of-school refugee students can catch up on their studies and learn at their own pace. By teaching girls math and sciences as well technological skills with Tabshoura, Nayla hopes to challenge the belief that girls aren’t good at STEM and equip refugee girls with the tools to support themselves and their communities.
Currently, Nayla is developing digital, free and trilingual lessons to aid teachers and help students keep up with their lessons. Nayla and her fellow Lebanese Education Champions are also working to develop lessons for Tabshoura aimed at helping refugee students in middle school pass the Brevet exam, a national exam students need to take to continue with secondary education.
Since 2017, 15,000 students and 500 teachers have used LAL’s technology. Students in schools, learning facilities and community centres across Lebanon now catch up on lessons with Tabshoura. In December 2019, Nayla joined Malala Fund at the United Nation’s first-ever Global Refugee Forum to speak about why local actors are best placed to lead in the development of flexible and culturally responsive education solutions for refugees. The Forum resulted in host governments and donors committing $350 million to improve refugees' access to education.
In 2018, LAL signed an agreement with the Center for Educational Research and Development (CERD) — a national education body — to collaborate on and validate content for the Tabshoura platform. During the COVID-19 pandemic, CERD added a link to Tabshoura on their website to encourage schools across the country to use the e-learning platform.