The role of digital education and sports in strengthening refugees’ social-emotional well-being



Developmental neuroscience insights confirm that for optimal development the human brain requires social relationships, emotional experiences and cognitive opportunities. Moreover, it is the quality of these relationships, experiences and opportunities that shapes neurocognitive development. In contexts in which any of these dimensions is severely impoverished, the overall quality of learning is seriously compromised (Immordino-Yang, Darling-Hammond & Krone 2018).
AHEEN works in low-resource humanitarian contexts where youth have few opportunities to develop life skills, where the quality of schooling is generally poor, and where the traumatic challenges of everyday life in the refugee camp further diminish chances of advancing one’s education and realise sustainable livelihoods. Together with our partners AHEEN implements Social-Emotional-Learning programs for youth in the camp through its unique Athletics+Education model.
The model is managed by AHEEN, its implementing member Youth Education & Sports, and collaborating partners World Athletics and UNHCR. Additional partners are now the All4Running School in Kapsabet to which well-performing U20 athletes are transferred to benefit from higher quality education opportunities, and Koitaleel Samoel University, a constituent college of the University of Nairobi, which is developing a Diploma in Sports Science accessible for refugee students as they graduate from secondary school.
For secondary-school athletes AHEEN organizes weekly on-line classes that focus on strengthening English proficiency through subject-matter topics in science, technology, history and sports. With teams now split between Kakuma/Kalobeyei refugee camp and All4Running School in Kapsabet, the technical affordances of the YES Learning Hub in Kakuma 3, and of the secondary school in Kapsabet ensure that the weekly on-line classes engage the young athletes and support their development of important life skills.


More about the presenters

The Athletics+Education team works with world champion Janeth Busieni who is an 800 m 2007 world champion, 2008 silver medallist, 2009 silver medallist, head coach, World Athletics Level 1 Coach and Kids Athletics Coach.
Arcade Arakaza, Sport Coach for Youth Education & Sports (Y.E.S), World Athletics Level 1 Coach and Kids Athletics Coach, working daily directly with refugee athletes in Kakuma helping them acquire athletics skills, and building their confidence and strength.
Jaryd Mercer, biology student at Durham University, World Athletics Level 1 Coach and working with the refugee athletes primarily as an English tutor, who has competed in athletics in the past and designs weekly lesson plans to reinforce the athletes’ English competence and academic confidence.
Samuel Niyonkuru, working with YES in Kakuma as Assistant Academic manager providing support to students during their online course activities, ensuring connectivity for students to their online learning portal and access to their learning materials.
Barbara Moser-Mercer, project designer and director, World Athletics Level 1 Coach and Kids Athletics coach.