Phone-Powered Schools
Describe the problem that you want to address. How does this problem effect people in their daily lives?
Hosting hundreds of thousands of Syrian Refugees in the governorates of Jordan is placing a considerable burden on local host communities, exacerbating existing vulnerabilities, national resources and the governmental and sub-national budgets. As Syrian refugees are granted access to basic public services, the pressure on water and electricity supply, education, health, sanitation and solid waste management, has drastically increased where refugees have settled.
 
The education sector, in particular, has reportedly been severely impacted by the crisis. 54% of the Syrian refugees registered by UNHCR in urban settings are under 18 years of age, doubling school populations in some communities. From the Government of Jordan estimates, this means that schools are crowded, classrooms are packed, already scarce supplies are not enough and WASH facilities are deteriorating. 
 
In practice, and in view of the concentration of the refugee population in the urban centres of the Northern governorates, this additional pressure has translated in school crowding ranging, in places, from 35 to 55 students per classroom, and the recurrent adoption of double shifts, which had previously been phased out, according to all officials and community representatives interviewed. In addition, UNICEF is providing support in the form of school rehabilitation, provision of prefabs and payment of additional teachers’ salaries. However, more is and will be needed. A recent study by CARE International, although focused on Syrian refugees’ living conditions in Amman, shows that 64% of school-aged children are not attending school. A simple equation would show that an additional 80,000 school-aged population would represent a need for 5,000 additional teachers and 3,125 classrooms.
 
Our team encounters these inadequate schools and is doing our best with traditional means to support development and build capacity at the municipal level.  Yet, innovative ways of addressing the situation are needed in order to create a shift in the services and infrastructure for learning.  This project proposes a way to speed the response to overcrowding and to create additional financial resources to address the issue.
Describe your proposed solution – How does your approach build on or add to more traditional ways of dealing with problem?
Available funds are not enough in order to provide students, both Jordanian and Syrian, with a suitable environment for learning. There aren’t enough school desks, water fountains are broken, WASH facilities are overwhelmed, and there aren’t any resources to support suitable extracurricular activities. Although the government and the donor community are contributing to the solution, we are still short on resources; this is why Crowdfunding can be the answer.
 
When looking at Crowdfunding from the Jordanian perspective, it is quite similar to many traditional initiatives that are employed to raise funds for philanthropic projects, however, the elements of reporting, progress and sustainability, are absent most of the time. This is why we, at UNDP Jordan, are proposing a localized, yet innovative answer to start a Crowdfunding campaign to rehabilitate schools in the governorates where the Syrian refugees are hosted the most.
Which technologies are you planning to use and why? Please make reference to other similar uses of your proposed technology.
Using credit cards online in Jordan is discouraged, we thought of Phone Donations as a different approach to secure funds. The proposed idea is to include smart phone users and non-smart phone users in the rehabilitation of schools by: 1)SMS Donations: A partnership with telecom companies will be established, where short messages are sent encouraging users to reply with a hashtag if they wish to add a donation to their bill or deduct it from their credit. 2)Phone Application Donations: An application will be designed and is free to download to android and apple users; this application will provide information about the status quo of the targeted schools, the progress being made by UNDP, a donate button, and a submit an entry option, where students and/or teachers will have the option to upload to the administrator info about a school in need. The donation button will allow the user to either add the amount to their phone bill or deduct it from their phone credit.