Non-Formal Education Program
An innovation to build and nurture youth-centred creativity, problem-solving, teamwork and leadership in refugee contexts
The Social Innovation Lab (SIL) is a unique programme where young people aged 14-18 years interact in creative, safe (hang-out) spaces to propose and implement solutions to social issues in Za'atari and Azraq refugee camps, Jordan. In the SIL, youth develop skills such as problem solving, leadership and collaboration as well as vocational and technical skills. Ultimately, the aim is to develop and nurture potential, innovation and hope amongst the future generation of leaders.
- Engaging and consulting all sectors of the refugee population at all stages of the intervention is absolutely essential. This enables young people and their communities to be a part of a change orientated towards improving their current situation and initiating dreams and hopes for a better future.
- Taking a broad definition of education, with a focus on building competencies such as real-life problem-solving, teamwork, and creative trouble-shooting the SIL approach has provided an equitable platform for young people to apply both formal education skills and those they have developed outside of the school environment. This helps to foster social cohesion, and develop and nurture skills that will be essential when the time comes to rebuild Syria. This is crucial for a young population that has suffered protracted trauma, stress and crisis, and that faces an uncertain future.
- The two-stage, competitive format has proven effective in generating collaborative and innovative projects that more efficiently address the growing social needs in refugee camps. If applied well, we have seen that they can be delivered using fewer resources, which is particularly important at a time of reduced financial capacity (both in terms of households and humanitarian response).
- An outreach and post-programme opportunity strategy is a key component of this approach. SILs are a catalyst for further innovation within the camps and bring opportunities to the camp – essential in a context where formal employment and freedom of movement are strictly limited. Having a skilled cadre of young people with strong leadership skills is attracting further investment and interest from the development and private sectors. The latter is starting to see the refugee population as a potential workforce and market.