Your Future Academy: Meeting the learning needs of marginalized communities with Minecraft

10 Jun 2024 student working at a computer

The world is changing, and that means young people need a whole new set of skills to thrive.

But access to those skills isn’t available to everyone. Marginalized communities often face barriers to quality education and the resources to develop future-ready skills. According to UNICEF, 1.3 billion children aged 3 to 17 don’t have an internet connection at home. That digital divide affects low-income countries and rural regions the most — and it’s perpetuating inequality.

To help close the learning poverty gap, UNICEF has created the Learning Passport. This digital learning program delivers a flexible and adaptable online, mobile, and offline platform powered by Microsoft’s Community Training to ensure children and young people can learn from anywhere, at any time.

Student using a tablet device

Now we’re adding another stamp to the Learning Passport. Minecraft and UNICEF have teamed up to develop Your Future Academy, providing interactive and immersive experiences adapted to the needs of students in marginalized communities.

Your Future Academy provides teacher training and helps young people learn and develop crucial 21st-century skills like problem-solving, creativity, and collaboration through content that educators can easily adapt to local needs. With the cooperation of global and local partners, the program aims to unlock valuable skills for students, increase educational access, provide culturally relevant learning, empower teachers, and scale up to embrace different regions around the world.

Delivering digital learning in Ukraine and Ghana

Every journey starts somewhere. To kick off Your Future Academy, we’ve implemented an exciting pilot program in Ukraine and Ghana designed to meet unique situational needs.

Ukraine: Closing the gap in the midst of conflict

The war in Ukraine has significantly disrupted education for thousands of children, with many schools damaged or destroyed and others facing ongoing security concerns. In partnership with municipal governments, UNICEF Ukraine is developing Digital Learning Centers with access to the Learning Passport and selected Minecraft Education content in Ukrainian.

The goal is to provide non-formal education and social-emotional learning for students experiencing extremely difficult and dangerous wartime conditions. Eleven regions have launched Digital Learning Centers, and over 12,000 students are already diving into collaborative building projects, internet safety training, and more.

Student looking at a laptop computer

"Working with Minecraft Education has been a vital step in addressing the educational needs of children living in emergencies. Through this innovative platform, we are not only delivering quality education but also fostering creativity, critical thinking, and collaboration among students. This initiative highlights our unwavering commitment to empowering young minds, no matter the circumstances." 

- Mac Glovinsky, Global Chief, Learning Passport, UNICEF

Ghana: Crossing the learning poverty divide

Ghana faces tremendous educational difficulties. Over 50% of Ghanaian students in primary year four don’t reach the minimum competency in English and Math. Those setbacks largely come from limited access to quality education and skills-development opportunities.

Together with UNICEF, we provide a unique opportunity for learners through the Learning Passport that includes Minecraft Hour of Code lessons, helping junior and senior high school students build their computational thinking skills and computer science toolkit. Our objective is to promote digital literacy and empower students with future-ready skills. Fifteen head teachers and 15 ICT Heads have been formally trained in Minecraft Education, and they are preparing to train 250 teachers and roll out the program to 10,000 students this fall. 

Three teachers holding certificates

“Minecraft is more than a game about placing blocks, it empowers children to learn, create and collaborate in a virtual world. As a company, our purpose is to Build A Better World through the power of play. Your Future Academy harnesses the power of Minecraft Education to provide children with access to quality digital education and foster a global community of learners.” 

- Ava Volandes, Director of Social Impact, Minecraft

Extending digital learning to students everywhere

The pilot has three key goals:

  • Help learners build and develop skills they’ll need for the digital future with a focus on numeracy, computer science, coding, and more.
  • Improve equitable access to best-in-class training, education resources, and game-based learning.
  • Build a replicable model for scaling and delivering Your Future Academies across the globe.
Three students at a desk, looking at devices

Expanding and inspiring

We’re thrilled to see such a successful pilot, and we’re inspired to expand Your Future Academy to even more communities worldwide.

From there, who knows how far the Learning Passport can take students and teachers? Our hope is to create one more building block in a robust, worldwide foundation for equitable digital learning. We’ll be sure to share more as the journey continues!

Travel along with us as we work to inclusively upskill today’s youth and prepare them for the world of tomorrow. 

Visit this link to learn more about the Learning Passport.

All photos are copyrighted by UNICEF. ©UNICEF.