Our guiding mission at Cerego is to help learners of all backgrounds build lasting knowledge that helps them in their own lives. We were therefore especially interested in seeing researchers from New York University, the City University of New York, and Turkey’s Bahcesehir University use Cerego successfully as part of a pilot program supporting Syrian refugee children in Turkey.
The problem these researchers aim to tackle is staggering in its scope: more than five million refugees have fled the civil war in Syria, a majority to Turkey, and half of them are under the age of 18. Leaving a home country is traumatic at any age, but presents unique difficulties for children. A serious and lasting concern is the disruption to education, with the UNHCR reporting that fewer than a quarter of refugee children worldwide attend secondary schools. In Turkey, recent research highlighted PTSD, depression and language barriers as particularly common and serious issues preventing young Syrian refugees from attending and successfully engaging in school.
To address these issues in particular, the researchers trialed a set of online interventions collectively called Project Hope, ranging from Cerego-powered language training to games designed to teach coding and executive function, and creating dream houses and schools using Minecraft. In total, 147 children aged 9-14 were randomly assigned to the intervention (75) or control group. To measure how the interventions addressed the barriers of language and mental outlook, the researchers ran a randomized controlled trial in which half the participants were given the Project Hope interventions during the study and half were assigned to a control group (this group were given access to Project Hope after the study was complete). The results were published in the journal Vulnerable Children and Youth Studies.
Of all the interventions, Cerego was rated by the participants themselves as the most enjoyable (78% liked using Cerego) and effective (82% felt they learned from it, and 83% would recommend to others). Post-intervention Turkish language tests confirmed the effectiveness of Cerego, with participants achieving scores 31% higher than the control group. This improved understanding of Turkish has outsized importance to the children’s future educational outcomes, given the direct impact of language proficiency on integration into local schools.
Perhaps most encouragingly, the researchers measured the impact of the overall set of interventions on the children’s mental state using the Beck Hopelessness Scale. Participant scores on this scale, which reflect increased negative expectations for the future, showed a substantial improvement in the children’s outlook, declining by 55% over the course of the study.
At Cerego, we’re passionate about the value of learning, and privileged to be able to develop, improve and share a platform used by people across the world, from train drivers in Japan or aid workers in Africa to college students in the US and remote learners in the Middle East. “We're thrilled to see Cerego being used successfully for something so important,” said Andrew Smith Lewis, CEO. “Our mission is to help the world learn and we can't think of a better use of the technology”.