The Jamiya Project is developing a process of working with students to co-design  preparatory courses a. Working with students on how courses are delivered and what the aims are can make design and content more relevant to the local context. It also helps to develop student skills that are relevant to adapting to higher education.

We are also working with students to co-create material to support adaptation to higher education. 5000 students were awarded campus-based scholarships in 2016, yet many Syrians face common academic, social and practical challenges. So the Jamiya Project is working with Syrians students to develop tools that support academic and social side of a student's journey to allow students to share and exchange their knowledge as a community despite their displacement. 


From September to January 2017 the Jamiya Project piloting two 12 week blended (online and in-person tuition) ‘Small Private Online Courses’ (SPOCs, not MOOCs) in Applied IT, delivered in Arabic and certified by University of Gothenburg. These were delivered in collaboration with a small team of Syrian academics and NGOs in Jordan - Norwegian Refugee Council and Jesuit Refugee Service - across two locations Zaatari Refugee camp. By making use of existing courses, learning infrastructure and technology, the pilot tested a model that made use of the skills of refugee communities leading creation and delivery of new higher education solutions. It is safe to say the we learned a lot from the pilot. You can read up on this in more detail below under 'Pilot Evaluation'. To summarise four of our own key findings:

1. The challenge remains, but meeting it is more complex: There is significant appetite among Syrians for higher education. But opening up existing courses online or broadening  scholarships is insufficient. It fails to recognise the pressures and need for remedial courses.

2. Blended models: an opportunity, not a compromise: Adapting university education to student needs is  key. It is unreasonable to ask a refugee student to fit a conventional university experience into their unconventional life. Blended education should be seen as an opportunity: Interacting with peers andlocal tutors were instrumental; but online provides a wealth of teaching dynamics and flexibility.

3. Working with Syrian academics: Another social interaction the Jamiya students valued was connecting with Syrian academics, Oula and Firas. Students were able identify with and to build personal relationships that supported attainment, aside from the experience, additional capacity and language skills they brought to the course.

4. Online and social media: We partnered with Edraak to use their top quality, Arabic-friendly LMS . This provided a good base for hosting our content and designing the course. However, throughout the course, we found that WhatsApp increasingly took over as the primary channel of discussion, as it allowed for spontaneous study and timely responses on their phone.


The Jamiya Project is collaborating with Empower Hack to build a prototype of the Jamiya VocApp: a mobile and web application to assist students Syrian starting courses in Europe in a second language (English, German and French) with learning relevant academic technical vocabulary through a peer-to-peer micro-learning platform. The platform will provide contextualised translation of terms Arabic<>English/German/French, online support from Syrian peers and Syrian academics, and an intuitive learning software to help speed students' transition into a new course in an unfamiliar language.


Pilot Evaluation

One of the reasons for running a small pilot was to learn quickly, adapt our model and fully meet the needs of Syrian students. During February 2017, the Jamiya Project commissioned Leon Cremonini to conduct an independent evaluation of our pilot courses in Applied ITrun in partnership with the University of Gothenburg in Za'atari and Amman in Applied IT. You can find the final report and appendices here.


Jamiya Project Survey: Syrian refugee higher education needs (Nov 15 - Feb 16)

We wanted to better understand the higher education challenges facing Syrian refugees, so we created an open online form for Syrians to fill in. It was posted online for a few months from November - February and received over 800 results! This has been extremely useful in shaping our projects. For those interested in crunching the data themselves, we've opened up the raw results here. Have fun!


European Commission's Study to design intervention policy on Higher Education Access for Syrian refugees (Oct 14 - May 15)

Co-conducted by Malaz Safarjalani, the study was implemented by Proman LU for the benefit of the European Commission. The study explored the potential of higher education access for Syrian youth resulting in an action fiche for MADAD fund. The study explores possible solutions to tackle several hurdles facing Syrian refugees trying to access Higher Education in the Middle East.