Teaching Displaced Iraqis and Syrian Refugees How To Code

ERBIL, Iraqi Kurdistan – When his computer coding class ends, Shadi Abdullah Khalid’s day is just beginning. The 36-year-old travels straight from the computer lab on the outskirts of Erbil to a warehouse across town where he works the nightshift as a security guard.

For a Syrian refugee living in Iraq, studying to become a computer programmer and supporting a family at once is a tall order. He estimates that he only gets home to the camp where his family lives for just a few hours every week. But Khalid is determined: “I see that these studies could help me get a better job.”

Khalid is one of 30 Syrian refugees and displaced Iraqis training at a computer coding “boot camp” to become IT professionals who will have remote working jobs within a year. The program is run by an American non-profit called Re:Coded that works to address education and development issues for displaced communities.

Teach refugees computer coding, the idea goes, and they can work remotely from anywhere. It’s a potentially scalable program that could improve the lives of thousands across the Middle East. But for students who are already struggling to hold together lives torn apart by war, putting the theory into practice is the real challenge...