‘Experience has taught us that with Zoom, you can only keep someone actively involved for a maximum of two hours’
In order to increase the reach and impact of its educational programmes, Aflatoun was already engaged in the development of distance learning materials, says CEO Roeland Monasch.
The global COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the need to use new education models in order to reach underprivileged children in remote areas. The NGO knocked on Dioraphte’s door for funding to conduct a ‘comprehensive review and re-working of the organisational strategy for distance learning using digital approaches’. ‘It is the second time we have received a donation from Dioraphte,’ says Monasch. ‘This time it is a strategic assistance, which we are delighted with. We are a social franchise organisation that collaborates with over three hundred partners in over a hundred countries. This enables us to reach millions of children with our social and financial education programmes.’
The aim of this project is to develop a set of Digital Learning activities for teachers, facilitators and the trainers of Aflatoun’s programmes. ‘Think of it as a toolkit,’ Monasch explains. ‘We deliver content for instructors to train other instructors in the region, who in turn train teachers. We promote learning in a lighthearted way. The toolkit we are developing for our entire network is a kind of library of videos, quizzes and lessons. It is a flexible resource that can be adapted to local needs. In Uganda, for example, the distance lessons are more often conducted via SMS, while in the Philippines, Facebook is perhaps a more suitable platform.’
Aflatoun and their partners are in the middle of a learning process themselves. ‘Before COVID-19 we were already in a development phase and the pandemic only served to speed it up. From Amsterdam, we conduct online sessions with our Master Trainers, in Syria for instance. Experience has taught us that you cannot keep anyone actively engaged in Zoom for longer than two hours. We were also confronted with the problem that many of our trainers and teachers were computer-illiterate. Some of them were not even familiar with email. In order for distance learning to be successful, we first had to teach them digital literacy through a crash course. That was a major learning curve for us.’