Can You Solve This? Interactive Campaign for the Right to Education in #Iran
Using Facebook, YouTube, and QR Codes the forces behind Can-You-Solve-This.org, a coalition between different organizations and individuals, have launched an interactive campaign in response to the Iranian governments practice of preventing different groups of people (activists, feminists, human rights defenders, religious minorities etc) from receiving a higher education.
People all over the world consider access to education as a basic human right. In many places, opportunities for education and training are almost taken for granted, particularly when they are nearly free of charge.
When we truly consider where we would stand without having received the benefits of education, we immediately understand and recognize how important and essential education is for every successful professional career and work situation, as well as our effective participation in society. To be denied the right to education would result in disastrous consequences for both the individual and the society in which we live.
In Iran, the denial of education is a reality that many young people are being forced to accept as they are systematically being denied access to universities and institutions of higher learning. This is not because the institutions of learning are not available, but rather, because these young people have different political views, social affiliations or religious convictions.
The Iranian government systematically uses the exclusion from education as a means of their discrimination policy. Student activists, feminists, human rights defenders, bloggers, and members of ethnic and religious minorities are punished for their commitment to their beliefs by expulsion from, and non-admittance to, universities and institutions of higher learning.
Also adherents of the Baha'i Faith, who have since the beginning of the Islamic Revolution of Iran been subject to severe persecution and systematic denial of higher education recently witnessed the government cracked down on their “underground university” known as the Baha'i Institute for Higher Education (BIHE). The government confiscated all educational materials (computers, books, laboratories) and arrested many of the administrators and staff whose only crime is their dedication to educating young people and giving them a chance to have a future.
Wilfully denying these young people access to education interferes with their basic human rights and personal opportunities in life, and also contributes to the suffering of society as a whole.
The young people in Iran are facing an injustice we cannot choose to ignore. They urgently need the support of all those who want to see the right to education implemented throughout the world. It is our responsibility, as members of the global community, to ensure that this right is respected and that justice is adhered to.
The Iranian Government: Known to frequently violate human rights, in this case the right to education. More information of Iran's human rights record.
Iranian Students who are denied the right to education: This group includes political activists, which are also known as the “starred” students as their university records were given a “star” to identify that they must be barred from continuing their studies. Activists may they be human rights defenders, women rights supporters or different forms of civic activists. Religious minorities, in particular member and children of members of the Bahai Faith. The Bahai faith is a religious group present in Iran. From Wikipedia, "Baha'i is a monotheistic religion founded by Bahá'u'lláh in 19th-century Persia, emphasizing the spiritual unity of all humankind. There are an estimated five to six million Bahá'ís around the world in more than 200 countries and territories."
CanYouSolveThis.org: A coalition of organizations inside and outside of Iran who have come together to bring awareness to this matter and speak up for the right of education for all in Iran.
The Tools and Tactics
Facebook: On their Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/canyousolvethis) they have created a custom welcome tab, that encourages visitors to "Like" the page and then gives them the basic information about the campaign. Here they ask you to click through to their website.
More information about creating a custom welcome tab for your Facebook fan page: How To Create a Custom Welcome Tab on Facebook Fan Pages
After clicking through the custom Facebook tab you are taken to CanYouSolveThis.org where a video begins to play that explains why they have launched this campaign, i.e. What are the problems that Iranian students face when they are not conforming in their thoughts and beliefs and how is this campaign proposes to solve them. This video is also being promoted by the campaign on Facebook.
Following the video they have created a widget where you can choose which human rights expert you would like to contact. By clicking their name the widget auto-loads a prepared letter that you can simply sign your name to and email. (this section will be opened in the coming days to allow people to edit the letters or write your own letter from scratch).
Following the video they have created a widget where you can choose which human rights expert you would like to contact. By clicking their name the widget auto-loads a prepared letter that you can simply sign your name to and email.
In order to build a widget like this you may need help from a coder. Don't know anyone? Post for help in the Movements.org Marketplace! (www.marketplace.movements.org).
QR Codes: In this case QR codes are used for both practical and attention grabbing purposes. Practically: the QR codes draw people to the campaign's website. Additionally QR codes are often used to build curiosity around a campaign. When someone walking down the street sees a QR code with a question, they want to know where the link will lead. Here are some images of where they've displayed the QR codes in the real world, in addition to sharing them on Facebook.
Finally, they've made it very easy to share the website with your friends on Facebook and Twitter as well as included a widget so you can auto-copy the website's URL:
Stumbling Blocks and Outcome
As this campaign has just recently launched the outcome is yet to be seen. As for stumbling blocks- we'll try to get an interview with someone from the campaign to learn more about their decision making process, and to see what we can learn from how they decided to use which tools, when, and here.
We can, however, identify some common challenges with a campaign like this:
1. Visibility: You need to get the campaign out to as many people as possible. How can you do this?
Organically: Start sharing it yourself on Twitter and Facebook and encourage our friends and family to share as well. Remember: each person that shares taps into a new network, and this is how things go viral. A good way to begin this process is with a call to action email to close friends and supporters who are most likely to take action.
Facebook Ads: If you have the budget, you can buy Facebook ad space. In this case they could use the QR code image as a click through link to the website to draw people in. Facebook Ads are great because they are easy to control, and its easy to target very specific demographics. In this case they could target people with interests in : Iran, Human Rights, Education, etc etc.
2. Action: Sometimes really savvy chic campaigns grab peoples attention, but they just watch the video and don't follow through with the the part where you are asking them to act. Its important to use visuals and language that stir up an emotional response in your viewer, so that they feel obligated to take part in the action component of the campaign. In this case writing letters to influencers.
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