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Joint Press Release: New competition aims to find creative solutions to education challenges in conflict zones

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Joint Press Release: New competition aims to find creative solutions to education challenges in conflict zones

31 March 2015

NEW YORK/GENEVA, 31 March 2015 - UNICEF and the UN Refugee Agency UNHCR today announced the launch of a new Amplify challenge - a call for ideas and innovations that could improve the delivery and quality of education for children and adults displaced by violent conflict.

"For children whose lives have been devastated by conflicts, education offers hope, stability and - increasingly - a means of delivering life-saving information. It is also an essential investment in the lives of individual children and future generations," said Josephine Bourne, UNICEF Chief of Education. "Less than 2 per cent of global humanitarian funding is allocated to education in emergency contexts, leaving an estimated annual gap of $247 million. Our challenge to designers and innovators is: How can we best preserve education - a basic human right - in difficult circumstances, using cost-effective methods without compromising the quality of learning?"

Through a collaborative process including research, collaborative brainstorming and refinement, Amplify hopes to find new economical, human-centred solutions to education in emergency situations, designed with input from the affected communities themselves and tailored to their unique needs. The Amplify programme is hosted by and OpenIDEO, and funded by the UK Department for International Development. The new challenge also includes expert guidance from UNICEF and the Innovation and Education units of UNHCR.

This is the third in a series of 10 challenges that aim to bring about positive change for people living in extreme poverty around the world. The first challenge focused on solutions that enable women to feel safe and empowered in low-income urban areas, the second sought to help parents and caregivers provide their children with the skills, competencies, health and habits crucial to early childhood development.

"The fact that half of the world's 50 million refugees and displaced people are under the age of 18 is extremely sobering," said Olivier Delarue, Lead of UNHCR Innovation. "This is why UNHCR is committed to providing access to quality education at the very onset of an emergency. Achieving this in the face of today's increasingly complex humanitarian crises requires innovative approaches. We need to find creative solutions that are sustainable and, most importantly, place the needs of those who are forcibly displaced at the heart of the design process."

For more information and to take part in the challenge, visit:

About Amplify

Operated by using the OpenIDEO innovation platform, the Amplify program is a series of 10 innovation challenges over five years funded by UK Department for International Development. Using both online and offline collaboration tools, the programme seeks to find and support bold, innovative solutions to some of the world's most pressing development issues.


UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere. For more information about UNICEF and its work visit:

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About UNHCR, UNHCR Innovation, and UNHCR's Education Unit

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees was established on December 14, 1950 by the United Nations General Assembly. The agency is mandated to lead and co-ordinate international action to protect refugees and resolve refugee problems worldwide. Its primary purpose is to safeguard the rights and well- being of refugees. It strives to ensure that everyone can exercise the right to seek asylum and find safe refuge in another State, with the option to return home voluntarily, integrate locally or to resettle in a third country. Providing access to quality education is a core component of UNHCR's protection mandate.

UNHCR Innovation is a multi-departmental unit established within UNHCR to work collaboratively with refugees, academia, and the private sector to creatively address challenges faced by uprooted or stateless people worldwide. UNHCR Innovation aims to empower staff to work together with refugee communities to design innovative solutions to the challenges they face. UNHCR's Education Strategy 2012-2016 strives to increase access to quality education programmes for refugees of all ages, engaging a broad network of partners to expand opportunities through new and creative approaches. For more information about UNHCR Innovation and its work visit:

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For further information, please contact: