In 2015, more than a million refugees from the Middle East sought asylum in Europe, in particular those from Syria, with many landing in Greece. Resettlement of these new immigrants can prove challenging because of a difference in language, culture, and education. A new blockchain-based startup, Match & Teach Me (which recently won 1st prize in a competition for innovation at the National Technical University of Athens), aims to solve the education problem by psychometrically matching the learning and teaching styles of refugees and teachers for a more effective education process.
Cointelegraph spoke with Theodore Dimakarakos, the founder and CEO of Match & Teach Me, about the project’s vision to help and teach refugees.
Cointelegraph: What gave you the idea for this project?
Theodore Dimakarakos: For the last 3 years, me and my partners (3 of them are the most known university professors working in the field of psychometrics) are working on Match & Teach Me project, which will be launched this June. During the last few months Marinos brought the idea on the table of how could we use blockchain for education. On top of that, if you live in Greece nowadays, the daily number one news title is the refugee crisis. If you sum all these... here you are!
CT: Which blockchain-based system are you using?
TD: We want to use the E.U.'s permissioned or federated blockchain solution, which has been announced to be materialized soon. Otherwise, it’s going to be Ethereum- based on Microsoft's Azure (Match & Teach Me is on the BizSpark).
Refugees are not stupid
CT: This all seems cutting-edge and exciting, but many of the people you would be trying to help might not be very educated and may be wary of technology. Do you foresee this to be a challenge?
TD: The vast majority of the refugees are from Syria. I can assure you that these people are not poorly educated, at all. On the contrary, many of them hold university degrees, and almost all of them have and operate perfectly a smartphone. Actually, a smartphone is the refuge's most valuable and important asset (navigation, communication, information, flashlight, etc.)
CT: Do you see any problems arising because of government? Many refugees may be wary of not being allowed to stay. Do you think any would stay away from identification because of a fear of eventually being sent back?
TD: If a European government wants to send back a refugee, why to bother to record him/her first? They can send him back on the spot. On the contrary, by recording them they could send the message: "Look, we will only accept legitimate refugees, those who have nothing to hide, those who don't have a secret agenda of their own. If you are one of them, you are welcome."
CT: To what extent are you seeking government involvement with this project, E.U, Greek, or both?
TD: Greek government can appoint civil employees -not police- on behalf of the E.U., along with N.G.O.s personnel, to inform and educate about this tool and its benefits. E.U. personnel can do that as well. But most importantly, E.U. has to adopt the permissioned or federated blockchain solution, and then hopefully allocate the necessary financial resources for the education program. Alternatively, these resources may come from the corporate sector in the form of C.S.R. programs. Or both!
CT: What is the long-term vision for this project?
TD: a) Integration of the refugees/immigrants to the culture of the country of their interest through the proper education.
b) Means to reduce the unemployment of European residents, since they will act as educators and get paid for that.
c) Adoption of the blockchain technology to that end, which could be the seed for overall acceptance of the blockchain "culture". This could lead to migration of the blockchain solution to other sectors as well (financial, law, etc.)