UNICEF and Astana Hub joint projects presented within Demo Day
Today, an online educational program for primary and secondary school teachers and successful startup projects that promote equal access to education and infrastructure were presented at the site of the international technopark of IT startups Astana Hub as part of Demo Day.
One of the projects was the Accessible Kazakhstan website and app, a participant in the Astana Hub accelerator, which shows the accessibility of public facilities for people with limited mobility and people with special needs. The globally recognized digital public good was born back in 2015, when the Tandau Foundation team initiated a project called Accessible Pavlodar. As a result, the residents of Pavlodar got a map where, by clicking on an object, it was possible to find out how accessible it is for people with disabilities. In 2016, the initiative covered the entire Pavlodar region. And the following year, the Almaty region joined the project, transforming it into "Accessible Kazakhstan". With the support of the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and Astana Hub, today the project brings together 15 public organizations and 500 volunteers across the country, and the map https://doskaz.kz/ contains information on the availability of 21,737 places in 22 cities of Kazakhstan.
Card users can use the service for people with limited mobility and people with special needs (and these are people with disabilities, parents with small children in wheelchairs, the elderly, pregnant, temporarily injured people, children under 7 years old) and plan the most accessible and safe route, and also find out how accessible and safe to visit the selected object is.
Accessible Kazakhstan has been verified by the UN-approved Digital Public Goods (DPG) Alliance and has been added to a global registry open to the world. Recognition as a DPG increases the visibility, support, and visibility of open source projects that have the potential to solve global problems. To become a DPG, all projects must comply with the DPG standard, which ensures that they truly follow the principles of open source. The registry operates on the principle of a "single window" that gives access to open digital technologies: applications, data visualization tools, educational programs, with minimal requirements for their free adaptation and use in order to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals as soon as possible.
“We are very pleased that the first digital public good in Central Asia is a project from Kazakhstan. "Accessible Kazakhstan" pursues an extremely important goal - to provide a barrier-free environment for everyone, regardless of needs and opportunities. The project does not map objects easily, it brings together a large team of like-minded people and promotes an accessible and safe environment for children and people with disabilities. Any organization can contact the Tandau Foundation and get the necessary advice on how to create an accessible, safe and friendly infrastructure at their facility,” said Leticia Buzzi-Vail, UNICEF Deputy Representative in Kazakhstan.
Another joint project of UNICEF and Astana Hub was an online course for teachers on inclusive blended education, launched on the platform https://okoo.kz/. According to a survey conducted by UNICEF and Astana Hub in 2021, only four out of ten (40%) teachers surveyed have only a general idea of what inclusive education is. At the same time, the vast majority (73%) of the teachers who took part in the survey said they would like to improve their knowledge about inclusive education. At least one in five (27%) teachers believe that they do not have enough knowledge and skills to fully use the functions of programs and applications that are applicable in distance learning. To improve the knowledge and skills of teachers in the field of inclusive and blended education, UNICEF, together with the Astana Hub, conducted a digital inclusive education course and trained more than 11,000 teachers from 11 regions of Kazakhstan. During the courses, teachers enriched their knowledge and methods of identifying children with special educational needs, learned about new techniques for creating an inclusive environment at school, empathy skills and working with online learning tools. Currently, the online course is available at https://okoo.kz/ for self-study by teachers.
“The use of IT technologies today not only increases the accessibility of education for children with special needs, but also makes the learning process more interactive, vivid and exciting, and therefore of high quality. In December 2021, Astana Hub and UNICEF Kazakhstan launched a teacher training program, and we are ready to announce the first results. It is important for us that teachers across the country learn how to use teaching tools that, on the one hand, are simple and easy to use, and, on the other hand, help to really interest children. This is how, in our opinion, modern technologies should be applied in training, facilitating the process for all its participants,” said Magzhan Madiyev, General Director of Astana Hub.