Tech Trailblazers: Jordan
Advancing computer literacy through social platforms
Photography by: Mary Gelman / VII Photo; Reporting by: Rana Husseini; Photo Editor, Text Editor & Producer: Kaley Sweeney
Advancing computer literacy through WhatsApp
“My idea is to be able to use the digital training I learned in Jordan to invent something that can help people,” says Hala, 15, a Syrian refugee living in Za’atari camp in Jordan.
In 2019, she enrolled in a UNICEF-supported programme to improve her knowledge and proficiencies in computer and mobile applications, and video editing.
“My idea is to be able to use the digital training I learned in Jordan to invent something that can help people.”
“I wanted to learn new techniques in dealing with digital platforms, since the national curriculum at my school does not focus on practical training,” Hala says.
Over 16 per cent of students in Jordan lack internet access, while one third do not have a computer that can be used for schoolwork. Among low-income households, nearly 50 per cent of children are unable to access the internet at all.
“COVID-19 imposed new challenging realities, including our learning experiences. Suddenly, we had to fully depend on digital methods to attend school from a distance,” Hala explains.
Hala communicates with her classmates through WhatsApp to assist them in the transition to digital learning. “I taught my siblings and schoolmates ways to properly switch the computer on and off and ways to use programs, such as Windows and Excel. My neighbours also used to come to my house because they had no knowledge of how to use a computer, and I helped them operate a computer, use some of its programs, email and surf the internet.”
Hala wants to continue being an example and support to others. “When I get the chance to obtain the quality education I aspire, I will become more empowered and secure enough to launch my own training projects that would target women and children in my community.”
Sharing skills through social media
In order to keep pace with a growing workforce, the national economy of Jordan needs to create 66,000 new jobs annually over the next ten years – many of which will require Information and Communications Technology (ICT) skills. However, the most vulnerable young people – women, out-of-school youth and refugees – often lack the digital literacy skills and opportunities necessary to tap into the potential of this sector.
Sally, 20, a university student, is using her own digital literacy learning journey to support other young women in reaching their full potential.
“I used to write down everything I learned in the training, and after I finished, I would open a Zoom meeting with three refugee girls, share my screen with them and explain to them techniques related to computer use. I also taught them how they can create their own emails and how to establish secure profiles on LinkedIn and other internet job boards.”
Sally connected with these girls and young women through a Facebook group she started, called Developing Social Thoughts. Designed to explore social issues facing Jordanians, the group serves as a jumping-off point to connect with and help peers.
“I used to write down everything I learned in the training, and after I finished, I would open a Zoom meeting with three refugee girls, share my screen with them and explain to them techniques related to computer use."
“I encourage university students to use social media pages to develop and publicize their [professional] stories, since many of them work part-time to support themselves.” Sally also educates her classmates on ways of navigating employment websites to help them find a job upon graduating.
In the future, Sally plans to open a digital training centre to assist young women in accessing the tools, literacy, connections and confidence they need to unlock twenty-first-century careers.