UNESCO YouthMobile highlighted refugees-made platform at 2018 Global Media and Information Literacy Week

29 October 2018

The YouthMobile workshop invited participants from Refuhelp, a Paris-based rising social start-up made by and for refugees, to share their experience as change makers in media and information literate cities, and to share a positive narrative of inclusivity and empowerment.

Refuhelp’s participants demonstrated their platform allowing refugees to access the information they need to meet their most-immediate needs. The two guest speakers, Eric Mbairamadji and Abdoulaye Sacko, shared their personal stories and detailed the challenges of access to information for refugees, ranging from administrative hurdles to cultural and linguistic barriers.

“When I first came to Paris, I did not know where to start” admitted Abdoulaye. “It is important to realize that refugees should not be perceived as a problem, but as part of the solution” said Eric.

Refuhelp idea was born when a group of refugees with different profiles, experiences and origins, participated in a six months intensive class on web programming by Simplon, a network of digital labs in Paris. That experience gave them the confidence to use these skills to help their peers. The result is a web platform that now helps refugees to access information about housing, health, job opportunities, thanks to a network of local partners, from institutions, to associations and companies. To facilitate access to non-French speakers, the platform extensively uses images rather than written text and is organized according to thematic groups addressing specific needs.

The Refuhelp web application won the “Start-up Weekend Paris 2017”, organized by Start-up Weekend and Techfugees.

The 2018 edition of the Media and Information Literacy (MIL) Week was hosted in Kaunas, Lithuania, and Riga, Latvia, from 24 to 26 October. This year’s edition focused on the concept of MIL Cities, complementing and reinforcing the more widespread concept of “Smart Cities”.

Media and Information Literacy comprises an overarching skill set and it includes a deep understanding of the recent sweeping changes driven by the digital age, and its far-reaching consequences for personal data, privacy, journalism, and the production of media. As a rising academic field, the conference supports the application of Media and Information Literacy education to age groups at all levels.

The UNESCO YouthMobile Initiative leverages computer science education and the widespread availability of mobile phones to empower its students by learning how to build digital solutions. YouthMobile includes several elements which are key components of MIL. In particular, through coding education the Initiative develops skills such as critical thinking, computational thinking, creativity and ability to work in teams, which are also core aspects of  MIL.