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Open Learning Exchange Provides Learning Opportunities to Refugees

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Open source learning emerged in the late twentieth century and was embraced by select universities on a global scale by early 2000. However, open educational resources, although bolstered by increased use of the internet, remained largely out of reach to those without online access.

Organizations such as the Open Learning Exchange, a social benefit organization (501c3) headquartered in Cambridge, MA are committed to ensuring free access to quality basic learning for all. This is particularly relevant for refugees and those displaced or forced to flee their homeland due to threat of violence or lack of resources.

In August 2013, the Open Learning Exchange began work towards establishing three Community Learning Centres, which will provide open learning opportunities to refugee populations, in particular children and youth, living in three UNHCR camps in Dadaab, Kenya.

Included in the educational materials in Dadaab is my documentary short, Graceland Girls, which will be screened this spring at all three Centres, along with other educational films. As Somalis in the Kenyan school system, the story of how educating girls in Kenya can help break the cycle of poverty may hit close to home. It is my hope that the film will stimulate a revealing discussion rooted in the culture, politics and economy of their host country and their Somali homeland.

Open educational resources can be the catalyst for systematic and institutional changes in the educational system on the ground, and provide the basic education needed to empower youth to create change and end poverty for themselves and for future generations.

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