Sky School is a new initiative here at UWC. It was founded by Polly Akhurst and Mia Eskelund who are alumni from a different UWC. Sky School aims to give refugees an education, and our focus is the Syrian refugees living in Jordan, particularly those around the ages of 16-24, as they are the refugees who didn’t get to finish their high school education or even start it. This links to the fourth sustainable development goal (quality education).
Globally, 63,000,000 adolescents are not at school – 17% of the world’s adolescents. 53% of those are girls and 50% of them live in conflict zones/refugee camps. 50% of children under the UNHCR mandate attend primary school, but that number drops to 22% when the children reach high school due to a lack of facilities. In 2009, 94% of Syrian children attended school. Now, only 60% of Syrian children in refugee camps in Jordan are going to school.
Stuart MacAlpine is the Director of Teaching and Education here at UWCSEA East, and he is one of the teachers who supervises the student branch of Sky School. A question Stuart asks is “why do you need classrooms and teachers when many refugees have smart phones?” Why is there a shortage of educational facilities in refugee camps, and therefore a lack of education for refugee children, when a solution could be worked out, using an online learning platform rather than concrete schools. This is the current aim of Sky School.
Earlier this year, Polly and Mia attended the UWC Congress. They advertised their idea of Sky School, and UWCSEA East agreed with it. As of season 3 of this school year (2016-2017) there has been a college service for high school where a group of around seventeen students have been working with Polly and Mia to find a platform and begin forming a trial unit for the students.
Stuart also mentioned that while it could be that these direct aims (the platform and the trial unit) may not work as we want them to, the “process of doing the work might lead to much better things that you didn’t (fore)see”. Instead, one of our high school students might end up founding and NGO or an agency which combats the issue of a lack of education, inspired by Sky School.
Polly and Mia are skyping in at 3 today so keep an eye out for our post/come visit.