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A lost generation: Education for young and displaced refugees

29 March 2017

Since 2011, nearly 5 million refugees have fled from Syria to escape conflict. At the Zaatari Refugee Camp in Jordan, 80,000 Syrian refugees have sought safety as war continues in their homeland. This displacement impacts particularly on young people – disrupting their education and potentially creating a ‘lost generation’ with few prospects.

In recognition of this, King’s is deploying its Sanctuary Programme, an umbrella under which the university will use its expertise in education, problem-solving ability, online resources, knowledge of the region, and leadership skills, to help refugees in their current situation and provide hope for rebuilding their homes post-conflict.

Supporting access to higher education

Running alongside the Sanctuary Programme is the Partnership for Digital Learning and Increased Access (PADILEIA) project funded by the Department for International Development’s SPHEIR programme.

The PADILEIA project aims to support young and displaced refugees in Jordan and Lebanon seeking access to higher education, working in partnership with Kiron Open Higher Education (Berlin), Al al-Bayt University (Jordan), the American University of Beirut (Lebanon) and FutureLearn (UK).

Zaatari Refugee Camp

A team from King’s recently visited Jordan to attend a PADILEIA planning workshop and during their time there visited the Zaatari Refugee Camp. The camp has now become Jordan’s fourth largest city, with numerous international aid agencies, including the UN Refugee Agency, providing assistance to its residents. This includes prefabricated homes to replace tents and the provision of key infrastructure.

There are 11 schools in the camp along with 27 community centres although access to Wi-Fi is limited and electricity is not available around the clock.

Through the collective effort of staff and students across all PADILEIA partners, King’s will lead on a range of bespoke curricula to be used in an innovative combination of existing and tailor-made teaching, and student support services.

Professor Michael Kerr, Professor of Conflict Studies and a member of the King’s team who visited the Zaatari camp said: The Syrian refugee students that we met in Jordan have the intellect, the motivation and the enthusiasm to excel in higher education.’

Echoing the thoughts of the King’s team, he said: ‘We were so moved and inspired by their determination and the sense of hope that they displayed in such difficult circumstances.’

You can find out more about the different initiatives taking place under King’s Sanctuary Programme HERE.

The SPHEIR (Strategic Partnerships for Higher Education Innovation and Reform) programme is a competitive grant scheme established by the UK Department for International Development (DFID). It is designed to catalyse innovative ‘partnerships’ in low-income countries to improve the performance, governance and influence of higher education systems and institutions.

SPHEIR is managed on behalf of DFID by a consortium led by the British Council that includes PwC and Universities UK International (UUKi).

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