The partnership ensures 37,500 refugee and host community children can continue their education during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Today, the LEGO Foundation and UNHCR are announcing a new partnership that will ensure that refugee children in Ethiopia can learn through play despite Covid-19. The partnership is bringing new play-based learning experiences to the refugee children through new technology and connected education approaches.
The pandemic has led to the greatest disruption of education systems in history. While children all over the world are struggling with the impact of COVID-19 on their education, with vulnerable situations and a lack of resources, refugee children are especially at a disadvantage.
“Together, the LEGO Foundation and UNHCR are building on our respective strengths to bring the power of learning through play to the most difficult to reach, and underserved refugee children in Ethiopia, to foster the breadth of skills that will support their holistic development and help them reach their full potential”, says Sarah Bouchie, Chief Impact Officer at the LEGO Foundation.
Ethiopia is the third largest refugee-hosting country in Africa, with more than 800,000 refugees and asylum-seekers, nearly half of them children. Education is crucial to help refugee children thrive, and children learn best, when they learn through play.
“Keeping education programs going for some of the world’s most vulnerable children in the time of a pandemic is extremely challenging, but it can be done through collaboration and by applying ingenuity and resourcefulness,” says UNHCR’s Representative for the Nordic and Baltic countries, Henrik M. Nordentoft. “It requires both hi-tech and low-tech endeavours. And it requires strong partnerships with the private sector. UNHCR is delighted to partner with the LEGO Foundation on this project”.
Through this partnership, the LEGO Foundation and UNHCR are working together towards UN Sustainable Development Goal Four, inclusive and equitable quality education and lifelong learning opportunities, ensuring no child is left behind. Teachers and caregivers will be trained, and refugee children will be offered play-based activities and access to content, both digital and offline, through solar radio and local solar servers (SolarSPELLs), as well as play kits with LEGO® bricks, that will help them learn and develop.
This initiative combines the LEGO Foundation’s vision and understanding of how learning through play can bring healing, increase socio-emotional skills, and build resilience among children with UNHCR’s refugee expertise and strong presence on the ground. In these efforts, the LEGO Foundation builds on its existing engagement in East Africa with the PlayMatters project, while UNHCR expands on its existing connected education partnerships with private sector partners.