There are now more than 6.5 million scattered Syrian refugees throughout the world and many of them are left without any way to make a living as the war wages on in their home country. Iraqi NGO Re:Coded and New York-based code school Flatiron are putting together a plan to help those refugees most susceptible to extremism in Iraq by teaching them programming skills.
Why Iraq and not Germany? We hear a lot about the flood of refugees in Europe but contrary to what you might conclude from many news reports, most of those fleeing Syria – 4.8 million – want to stay close to home, including surrounding areas such as Iraq and Palestine. At last count, there were more than 200,000 refugees in Iraq.
With support from the United Nations, Re:Coded’s goal is to help displaced Syrians stay in a more familiar region and lower some of the burdens placed on traveling far afield to Europe by giving them the skills to make a living in Iraq.
Flatiron offers both web and mobile development programs and will provide 12 months of training for up to 50 refugees through the program, initially – or the equivalent of about $300,000 in training, according to Flatiron’s Adam Enbar.
Flatiron doesn’t get a government kickback or tax break as far as Enbar is aware of for the program. However, Re:Coded is a non-profit organization.
While this isn’t the first charitable contribution from Flatiron – it also offers certain programs to get women and girls interested in programming such as #KodewithKarlie, a program developed by supermodel Karlie Kloss, who is also learning to code at Flatiron, it will be its first international effort.
“There’s some value in reskilling the liberal arts grad who wants to get into tech and that’s super cool, but what always excited us about the industry is the potential not to see this as an opportunity for reskilling but to create real economic mobility,” Enbar explained. “That means forcing ourselves to work with people who don’t have those advantages.”
The code school launched in 2012 and claims it will graduate 1,000 people this year – 40 percent of which are women and 24 percent come from low-income households.
The training provided to the Syrian refugees will be on par with other programs at the school, including full stack web development on both the front and back end and will use the school’s online platform Learn, which includes local teachers on the ground in Iraq.