Members of the initial ReACT-class in Amman (Credit: Lauren Benner, MIT)
Members of the initial ReACT-class in Amman (Credit: Lauren Benner, MIT)

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology has started a program called ReACT in Amman, Jordan. They want to offer refugees the training necessary to find reputable jobs in computer and data science.

A class of students, half of them refugees, started an annual course in computer science and administration organized by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Amman, Jordan this month. The course includes internships with local companies to help participants find a job in the region. 

The new program they are taking part in is called Refugee Action (ReACT) Certificate Program. It starts with a two-week-long intensive session with lessons in innovation, design and business administration taught by MIT professors and students. 

Online courses to train refugees 

"The 18 members of the initial class will then spend the remainder of the program taking a series of online classes through MITx [editor's note: MIT's online learning platform] and working about 20 hours per week as interns with companies in the region'', said the MIT presenting the initiative online. The project ''will bring an MIT-caliber education to refugees and other displaced populations, where they live'', according to executive director Robert Fadel. ''What we're really doing is offering the students an opportunity to sharpen their skills in computer and data science, but also in innovation and how to be entrepreneurial.''

The initial program will be open to refugees as well as Jordanians, in particular women. The program includes five online courses: two computer science courses and classes in science, innovation and leadership.''This initial program drew about 500 applicants, from 20 nations, including some as far from Jordan as Brazil and Japan'', MIT said in the programm announcement. 

50 percent female students

Students were selected based on a math and English-language test and a video in which they explained what they would do if they could invest 100,000 dollars. According to MIT, ''the selected students came from four areas: Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, and the Occupied Territories. The initial class is composed of 50 percent women, as the organizers had hoped." 

Fadel said that internships were an essential part of the ReACT program because they were ''critical in providing practical training. It means they can demonstrate what they're learning in their classes in the workplace right away'',

MIT is planning to expand the program - to include more students and other locations - after its first year. 

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