Expanding Access to Higher Education For Refugees

Refugees end up in situations they do not plan on and end up having to put their education or training on hold. For young children, access to education is a necessity. During early childhood, there are many different benchmarks and developmental checkpoints that need to be reached before the window closes. Older children in refugee camps list that education is their top priority, even listing it before their family or returning to their home country.

International Attempts At Assistance

Many countries, including the United States, Scotland, England, and Germany, are trying to find ways to help these determined refugees access higher education. There are many different obstacles refugees face because of conditions in their home countries. Access to transcripts might be difficult if the papers were not taken when they were relocated, contacting the university may be next to impossible, or the university may no longer exist.

A significant barrier refugees face in other countries is being categorized as international students when, in reality, they are asylum seekers and should be categorized as native students. Refugees cannot afford international fees, nor do they have access to government funding for their education. These impediments cause refugee students to miss out on higher education opportunities.

Access, Not A Free Ride

Giving refugees access to higher education has a more significant and lasting impact on their lives after the conflict ends. During their time as a refugee, having access to higher education normalizes their routines and schedules. Access can give these students reprieve from the stresses of uncertainty in their lives and return a portion of normalcy to their day to day activities. Additionally, educating these individuals can lead to an educated populace that can assist in conflict resolution or give back to the country that hosted them. After resolution occurs, the educated individuals may return to the country of origin and be part of the rebuilding efforts.

The Powerful, Invisible Connection: Technology!

With the world we live in now, access to such education is far more possible than ever before. There are applications like EdPuzzle, Kahoot!, or Quizlet that allow students and teachers to share ideas and assess individual learning. Through these applications, students can have access to crucial class materials when they are not able to be in a physical classroom. Applications such as Google Classroom, Edmodo, or BlackBoard can connect students of different languages and cultures to share their ideas and learn through a digital classroom. In doing so, students may also have exposure to other languages and may even attempt to learn a new language with real-time practice.

Prior to the digital age, many parts of the world did not have access to the aforementioned resources. Countries are not the only ones attempting to bring higher education to refugee students. Companies like Google are finding ways to bring education to refugees. Google helped German refugee groups by donating 25,000 Chromebooks. These devices open thousands of doors to education for refugees.

Using the resources available at the current moment, refugees’ lives can be changed forever. The cycle of conflict does not have to win by depriving deserving individuals of education. For those striving to continue their education, access should be granted because their hard work could pay off substantial dividends and end the cycle of conflict in war-torn countries.

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