Maharat ICT Academy

ICT is a powerful tool to improve prospects for people of all ages and backgrounds. Maharat Academies provide ICT vocational education and livelihood opportunities to disadvantaged youth in hard-to-reach communities. Our Academies provide young women and men with competitive ICT skills, guide them towards dignified, inclusive and sustainable employment and prepare them for the freelancing market. The courses focus on mastering computer fundamentals as well as web design, graphic design and data entry. Combined with soft skills in communication, idea incubation and job search we enable young Syrians to earn a living from remote work and become change makers in their communities. This mean an important improvement to their self-reliance and their livelihood situation. Our approach reduces aid-dependency and enables beneficiaries to quickly stop being beneficiaries and start earning a living themselves, in fully dignity and with agency.

At Roia we make an effort to put beneficiaries at the heart of our program design. Our market assessments have revealed that especially the unemployed have high hopes of office jobs. Community's stakeholders have expressed the desire to get skills in accounting and financial management or marketing, communication and advertising. Keeping this desire in mind, Maharat Academy enables job seekers to gain valuable office, IT and English skills to offer their services locally or on freelance platforms.

The Maharat ICT Academy is designed to provide youth with lifelong ICT vocational skills and immediate, improved access to livelihood opportunities in both the local market and globally through work opportunities and online freelancing. Project activities include comprehensive and meaningful ICT training as well English training and direct livelihood opportunities. The courses focus on mastering computer fundamentals as well as web design, graphic design and data entry. Flexibility in training level is provided through three different training tracks to mobilize young and old, novice and geeks to join the Academy. The livelihood component includes an internship program in partnership with IT and non-IT companies and induction to online freelancing platforms, such as the in-house platform Subul.org we developed in partnership with Microsoft. The Academy provides also a safe and fully equipped place to learn, experiment and collaborate. Given the patchy electricity supply and costly mobile data packages, a lab and co-working space is needed for students to practice their newly acquired skills and start their careers.

Keeping those needs in mind, Maharat Academy aims to provide beneficiaries with improved access to income-generating opportunities, open paths to satisfy basic needs and reduce economic barriers. While the training component prepares the participants with technical skills training for ICT and freelancing work, the livelihood component offers them the necessary tools to facilitate their entry into the ICT job market.

The conflict in Syria has critically deteriorated the state of education. Schools lie in ruins, and those still stand are overcrowded and under resources. An entire generation has grown up knowing nothing but war and left unchecked this could have profound consequences for the future stability and prosperity of the country. Our ICT Academies are delivering training to help prevent the emergence of a "lost generation".

Across the whole of Syria, an estimated 69% of people now live in extreme poverty and support themselves on less than US$2 a day. Of these, it is estimated that 35% live in abject poverty, unable to afford the basic goods necessary to survive. Among young people, who make up over half the population, unemployment rates are estimated at 78% with the figure significantly higher among young women. Such figures are reflected across the north of Syria, in Western Aleppo and Idlib regions. The violence in Syria over the last 7 years has severely affected the regular economic cycle of communities . In normal circumstances, there exists a circular economic flow between households and firms. Households provide firms with labour while firms provide wages in exchange. With these wages, households in turn buy goods and services from firms, thus providing firms with the income for wages and other factors of production (e.g. raw materials for goods and services).

However, a consequence of the conflict, this circular flow is broken by violence, instability and destruction of communications and infrastructure. Firms have been destroyed or forced to close due to fleeing owners, and fewer firms means fewer jobs. Meanwhile, those firms that have remained open have fewer goods and services to offer due to the inaccessibility and unaffordability of raw materials. With fewer jobs, there is less income in local households to buy goods and services—a problem exacerbated by the now higher cost due to scarcity. With fewer goods and services being bought, firms cannot afford to hire labour and, overall, the flow becomes a negative cycle.

The concept of sustainable livelihoods depends heavily on the state of education and, due to the on-going crisis in Syria, the education system faces many challenges in terms of resources and financing. In the north of the country, several communities report being unable to afford basic goods and food. Accordingly, a high risk of negative coping mechanisms has been recorded, with child labour, meal skipping, debt, and high-risk/illegal work being resorted to by many community members in order to survive.

Young women and men in Syria urgently need your help!

8 years of war have exhausted the people of Syria. Young women and men are among the most affected. Millions of Syrian youth are deprived of a proper education. They have little hopes of improving their livelihood situation. Their future is plagued by problems such as poverty, recruitment, child marriage and extremism. All they can remember is the war.

We provide alternative ICT vocational and education training and livelihoods. This education has changed the lives of hundreds of young women and men in Syria. It provided our beneficiaries with employment opportunities enabling them to improve their livelihood situation and increase their resilience.

However, the success of our ICT programs depends on donors. Without the urgently needed funds, we will be forced to suspend our activities in May 2019. Your crucial donations will help hundreds of young Syrian women and men. We at ROIA have the vision that together we can improve lives through ICT education. No matter how much the war has destroyed, we will keep rebuilding from the ashes. The Syrian youth deserves an education, they deserve a future, they deserve your help. With your contributions, we can keep improving hundreds of young lives. Its time to make a change, it’s time to become visionary!

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