SEATTLE, Washington — Just a few months after visiting Greece’s Moria Refugee Camp in 2019, a group of students at the University of Southern California came up with an innovative way to help forcibly displaced people worldwide. Key Learning, a skill-learning app for refugees, launched in 2020 with the aim to lend a helping hand to the world’s most vulnerable.
Forcibly Displaced Refugees
By helping displaced refugees learn essential skills in their new relocations, Key Learning is making an impact on one of our world’s most serious and persistent crises. As of 2019, there are nearly 80 million forcibly displaced people globally, including more than 26 million refugees and 4 million asylum seekers. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the world is now home to a greater number of refugees and displaced people than ever in the U.N.’s recorded history.
With more and more people continuing to flee violence, war and oppression, thousands are forced to find temporary refuge in squalid and cramped refugee camps, where there are little to no opportunities for attaining self-sufficiency.
Many refugees in these camps apply for asylum in the hopes of being able to leave these settlements and find work in their host countries. However, with little initial job training as well as language challenges, most are faced with a hefty barrier preventing them from successfully starting careers and integrating into host countries.
The USC Students’ Key Learning App
While at Moria, a group of USC students discovered that a primary demand among the camp inhabitants was gaining access to skills relevant to establishing careers, highlighting the importance of such an app for refugees. Upon seeing these difficulties and hearing these testimonials first-hand, the team decided to launch the Key Learning app.
This novel app for refugees addresses the existing gap in education and career training by providing an accessible platform for refugees to learn essential skills directly from their mobile phones. As Key Learning co-founder Anya Nutakki explained in an interview with The Borgen Project, the app “focuses specifically on curating learning tracks that teach life skills.”
Whether it’s learning how to start a business, coding or hairdressing, the app provides educational material on different topics that refugees may be willing to learn. The app primarily delivers its content through videos and quizzes.
Key Learning also hopes to encourage refugees to put the knowledge they gain to practical use. Upon completing a topic, refugees will receive either a materials kit to start working on their skills immediately or attend a live mentoring session with an experienced professional on the topic.
Aiding Refugees and Economies
The Key Learning team believes that the app will benefit both refugees and their host countries. With Greece in the throes of a significant financial and economic crisis, helping refugees launch successful careers may serve as a helpful stimulus for the Greek economy.
Autumn Gupta, a co-founder of Key Learning, explained how Greece citizens are “also in a bad state, just like the refugees are, so we wanted to make sure any solution we created was two-sided and would really help Lesvos and the refugees at the same time.”
While the app is still new and in its testing stages, it is already available on Google Play and compatible with Android devices. The Key Learning team is looking to launch the app in September. In the meantime, the team is working on expanding its reach and recognition.
While the team was initially at Moria Refugee Camp as part of a college course on using engineering and technology to address global challenges, the project has evolved into something larger and significantly impactful. The educational and vocational barriers facing refugees in camps worldwide are often overlooked and not immediately apparent to many. However, these issues demand the necessary attention and action needed to improve millions of displaced people’s lives.
While the app still has a few developments to go before it is a staple in refugee camps worldwide, the team behind the efforts is extremely optimistic and open to support from all sectors and NGOs. “We are always looking and encourage people to reach out if they know of some technology or something they can bring to the table and would like to help us on!” said Gupta.
With the work that Key Learning is doing and its future in the field, forcibly displaced refugees are sure to soon find a track that can change their lives for the better.