Hallam backed e-learning scheme for children affected by conflict shortlisted for $100 million grant

An e-learning programme co-developed by Sheffield Hallam University has been shortlisted in the 100&Change competition which awards a $100 million grant for an innovative proposal that will help solve the world’s most critical social challenges.

Developed by War Child Holland, in partnership with Sheffield Hallam, Save The Children,  software company &ranj and social design studio Butterfly Works, Can’t Wait to Learn is a tablet-based game that allows children in war-torn areas to continue to learn how to read, write and count.

The project seeks to address the fact that more than 32 million children affected by armed conflict worldwide are denied their fundamental right to a quality education – and with it the knowledge and skills to participate in their societies and fulfil their potential.

The programme has now been recognised in the final 100 submissions of the 100&Change competition, funded by the MacArthur Foundation, representing the top 21% of all entries.

Sheffield Hallam supported the development of the project by designing a digital tablet desk which improves the ergonomic posture and comfort of floor-sitting tablet users.


Dr David Swann, Professor in design and research lead for the Department of Art and Design in the College of Social Sciences and Arts said: “I have been contributing my design research expertise to War Child Holland’s Can’t Wait to Learn programme since 2015.

“It’s wonderful news that The MacArthur Foundation has recognised this innovative interdisciplinary project and the effectiveness of our partnership in bringing quality learning to conflict-affected children.”

All proposals were rigorously vetted and evaluated against four criteria: that the programme is impactful, evidence-based, feasible and durable. MacArthur’s board of directors will select up to 10 finalists from these high-scoring proposals this spring.

Tjipke Bergsma, managing director of War Child Holland said: “War Child Holland, together with our partners, are proud that Can’t Wait to Learn has been shortlisted as one of the highest scoring proposals to help address one of the world’s critical problems.

“The initiative’s success to date is due to effective collaboration with implementing partners, Ministries of Education, UN agencies, technology experts, design specialists, researchers, humanitarians, teachers and, most importantly, children.

“Each group is committed to one aim: bringing meaningful learning to conflict-affected children. We’re excited to continue on this journey with recognition from the MacArthur Foundation.”

The announcement of the top 100 submissions also marks the launch of the Bold Solutions Network, an online collection of the submissions that contains a project overview, 90-second video and two-page factsheet for each proposal. 

The network is designed to provide an innovative approach to identifying the most effective, enduring solutions and to help top applicants gain visibility and funding from a wide array of funders.

Organisations that are part of the network will have continued access to a variety of technical support and learning opportunities focused on strengthening their proposals and increasing the impact of their work. 

A video about the project can be viewed here.

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