Refugee Education


Refugees are people who flee their country because of a well-founded fear of persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership of a particular political group. A refugee either cannot return home, or is afraid to do so.

Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) have been forced to flee their homes because of war or dangers. Unlike refugees, they remain in their own country. There are no specific international human rights laws to protect IDPs.

Every day, people become refugees to escape persecution or war. The persecution can be in the form of physical violence, harassment and wrongful arrest, or threats to their or their family's lives. Exposed to danger if they remain in their own countries, refugees may have to face and survive mistreatment during their flight. Further danger may await them on arrival in the country of asylum. Teenagers are among the most vulnerable in any refugee population to the effects of violence.

Further information about refugees can be found on the United Nations High Commisioner for Refugees (UNHCR) website.

Refugee Education

Many potential volunteers may enquire where the scientific proof of effectiveness for the provision of remote education to refugees is. Most services these days are evaluated, piloted, and monitored formally in order to justify their existence. Furthermore, sustainability is a keyword for those who work in developing countries.

According to the UNHCR education is increasingly viewed as the "fourth pillar" or the "central pillar" of humanitarian response, alongside the pillars of nourishment, shelter and health services. The sudden and often violent onset of emergencies, the disruption of families and community structures deeply affect the physical and psychological wellbeing of refugee children. Education provides opportunities for students, their families and communities to begin, develop and maintain the trauma healing process and normalcy, and to learn the skills and values needed for a more peaceful future and better governance at local and national levels.

The restoration of education brings its widely recognized benefits - such as a contribution to productivity and economic development. It can also contribute to social stability by engaging young people in sustained constructive activity and self-development. There are also long-term implications for social cohesion: it is undesirable for one group of the population to be severely under-educated relative to other groups, especially where there is an ethnic dimension.

Schooling for girls leads to lower child and maternal mortality rates and increased female participation in economic and political decision-making. UNHCR worker Jacinta Goveas commented that children serve as a "release mechanism" for adults' feelings of anger and hatred and that the adults' conscious or unconscious indoctrination of children may lead to renewal of conflict in the next generation. She noted that children were taught songs about blood and revenge - but that given other subjects, they - and their teachers - responded favorably.

It is stated that where crisis arises due to ethnic conflict, it is crucial for humanitarian agencies to participate in the emergency education process rather than leaving it only to the community. Otherwise, local schools (possibly reflecting one side of the conflict) may become channels for transmitting hatred to the next generation, leading to additional crises in the future. Schools - and education in general - represent a mechanism to get “survival messages” to the community, in particular for adolescents, who may otherwise be prone to engage in militia training and other antisocial activities, or to suffer depression.

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