HOW IT ALL STARTED ...
In 1997, after a first experience with street-connected children in Colombia, Arnoud Raskin designed the prototype of the mobile school as part of his Industrial Design course. In 1999, the first two mobile schools were started in Guatemala and Bolivia. A camera crew followed this process as part of the Woestijnvis program 'Napels Zien' on Eén. The report achieved particularly high viewing figures and is etched in the collective memory of TV-watching Flanders. Due to this visibility, Arnoud, as a young social entrepreneur, found the necessary support to professionally expand the project and in 2002 the non-profit organisation Mobile School was founded.
Afterwards things went fast. In the first years, only mobile schools were started in Latin America. Later, the mobile schools also moved to other continents, with a first project in Africa (Kenya) in 2005 and projects in Asia (Philippines) and Europe (Romania) in 2006. The counter currently stands at 33 countries worldwide.
MORE THAN JUST THE MOBILE SCHOOL
In the meantime, the organisation also grew in terms of offering. The online gaming platform StreetSmart Play was built. All educational games that come with the mobile school can be downloaded for free. The training given to youth workers - when new mobile schools are started - is also available free of charge on our StreetSmart Learn training platform. In addition, we also offer an app with StreetSmart Impact to measure impact as a youth work organization. Our digital projects were made possible thanks to funding from Erasmus+ and Google.org.
We use technology to make our knowledge and materials available as widely and easily as possible to everyone who works with vulnerable children and young people.
STILL RELEVANT AFTER 20 YEARS?
Around the world, the consequences of the pandemic, armed conflict, climate change, the current energy crisis and rising inflation are taking a heavy toll on vulnerable children and young people. For example, UNICEF calculated that around 100 million additional children ended up in poverty due to the pandemic. That brought the sad total number of children in poverty to 638 million in 2021. Rising poverty in families is causing a clear increase in abuse and domestic violence. For example, a recent study shows that as many as 2 in 3 children in Latin America and the Caribbean experience violence. In addition, 10 million additional child marriages are expected by the end of the decade. Many children lack a healthy family and school context, making the street their basic learning environment. We see this with all Mobile School partners who report a sharp increase in the number of children on the street. The requests for new mobile schools come from organisations that notice that children are dropping out of the education system. They look for alternative methods to reach them on the street.
REBROADCAST LOS EASY RIDERS ON PLAY4
Following the twenty-year anniversary of Mobile School, Play4 decided to rebroadcast the series 'Los Easy Riders'. 10 years ago, Arnoud and television maker Paul Van Rooy traveled by motorcycle through Latin America (Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia) various Mobile School projects, where they met old acquaintances. During the 8,000 kilometer motorcycle trip, Arnoud and Polle not only learned what it is like to ride on unpaved terrain, but they also noticed how motorcycling literally and figuratively brought them closer to people. The series is expected in Play4's schedule around the Christmas period.