The Can’t Wait to Learn Program (CWTL) which began in 2021 runs in five countries and provides tablets to children in remote areas with high learning poverty. The program aims to provide education to children affected by conflict in Sudan, Jordan, Chad, Uganda and Lebanon. On June 23, 2022, a report announced that learning poverty in low-income and middle-income countries had increased by 13%.
The learning poverty increase is due to lowered household income and extended school closures during the pandemic and conflict in given countries. Learning poverty measurements occur by studying 10-year-olds’ ability to read and comprehend simple written text. In 2015, learning poverty in low-income and middle-income areas was at 57%. As of June 23, learning poverty increased to 70% of children unable to read simple text.
Can’t Wait to Learn
The Ministry of Education (MoE), UNICEF, War Child Holland and Ahfad University partnered to create the first Can’t Wait to Learn Program. They created the program in Sudan in in 2014 with their e-Learning Sudan (eLs) Project. This phase of the Can’t Wait to Learn program focused on math games on tablets.
In Sudan, conflict affects 2.6 million children. As of August 2019, approximately 3 million children were not in school. This amounts to around one-third of children who are old enough to attend school missing crucial learning.
The Can’t Wait to Learn Project relies on local facilitators who can travel to villages and understand how to use the tablets. In Kassala, Sudan Can’t Wait to Learn established learning centers in 23 communities. This was the start of Can’t Wait to Learn’s fight against learning poverty, before the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
Can’t Wait to Learn @ Home
In refugee camps in Uganda and Lebanon, CWTL adapted to have children learn remotely. In June 2021, Uganda’s government enforced a 42-day lockdown, meaning that schools were closed to children and travel was limited. With public transit closed, War Child Holland provided bikes to facilitators to check on families and deliver charged tablets to their homes.
With the pandemic, more than 1.2 million children in Lebanon missed school. War Child Holland has 40 locations in Lebanon, helping Lebanese families that cannot send their children to school. More than 40% of children spend their family finances on essential items such as food. In response, War Child created Can’t Wait to Learn @ Home, where families receive a manual to help their children use their tablets.
Inside and outside of schools in developing countries, CWTL provides tablets with educational games to children. The games are meant to teach children how to read, write and count. In each country, games receive adjustments for specific languages and needs of the children in the area. Out of school children who may have never used a computer before can learn with a tablet without teacher assistance.
Results and Future
Children in the program showed improved skills greater than those in the Government Alternative Learning programme (ALP). Children improved their math skills by two times and reading skills by 2.7 times with the ALP. COVID-19 worsened the learning poverty crisis, showing risk of children missing out on $21 trillion in possible income.
Can’t Wait to Learn and Can’t Wait to Learn @ Home provide the opportunity for children to continue their schooling despite the state of where they live. Through crises, a pandemic and low family income, the program continues to provide tablets and learning opportunities to children around the world.
– Sara Sweitzer