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Why a Credit-card Sized Computer Makes a Difference for Syrian Refugees

Raspberry Pi is a computer designed to teach young people to program. Tiny and low-cost, it can be plugged into a TV and still has the processing power of a desktop PC. It is not only an affordable way to introduce children to technology but, more importantly, it stimulates them to become future innovators.

This summer, the Pi will enter Lebanon’s refugee camps, where children will be able to explore how to make games while learning about their rights as a child. The program, called Pi4Learning, was developed by Unicef Lebanon to help get Syrian children back into learning through a curriculum based on Khan Academy, which was produced by the local NGO Foundation for Learning Equality.

“It’s untapped ground and it will be really interesting to see what e-learning can do in a context where schools are drastically overrun and there are just not enough school places for children,” Unicef Innovationist James Cranwell-Ward says.

But why would learning coding help these kids face the harsh reality of displacement? It seems the key to the program is vision: through stimulating their building of programming skills, children become active users who can build knowledge instead of simply consuming.

“The rate at which tech is being rolled out into our lives is phenomenal, and coding — or the understanding of technology and how to manipulate it — is going to be a core component of our lives and our children’s lives moving forward,” he told The Guardian.

For more information: Visit Unicef’s Pi4Learning program and follow James Cranwell-Ward on Twitter.

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Valentina Primo

Journalist, globetrotter, and determined idealist. Since Valentina left her home country of Argentina, she has searched for ways to build bridges between cultures and foster dialogue. Her previous work in international organizations in Italy and Germany fed her passion for the world of development, while her 8-year journalistic experience in Argentina and Egypt increased her curiosity for everything that challenges the stereotype. She holds a BA in Journalism and a Masters in Peace Studies with a specialization in Human Rights.

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