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June 28, 2022

E-learning Refugees Passport for Universities and Labor Market


By Mohammed Ibrahim

Several researchers and academics emphasized that e-learning is the passage of refugees toward university education, considering it the best solution to ensure a better future for them. It contributes to the easy and accessible knowledge and science and guarantees them a decent life and a place in the labor market, especially since statistics indicate that the refugee stays for more than 20 years in the place of asylum before returning to his home country.

The researchers told “Alkhaleej” that e-learning is the perfect solution to provide university education to refugees. Building universities for refugee, is originally a distant hope, and the important difference of the past years, lies in the Internet, and its introduction into refugee camps or displaced persons’ headquarters at low cost and often subsidized, contributing to the electronic delivery of university education to refugee populations.

The refugee is studying online on a computer in the camp to obtain an academically recognized university degree, so that s/he can apply for a respectable job and receive financial remuneration to help him or her make the way forward, at a time when school construction is a difficult and expensive project; Only half of the world’s refugees received school education, and the other half were still out of school.

This was on World Refugee Day sponsored by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), which falls on 20 June each year; The challenges of refugees around the world and the search for ways to help them and improve their living conditions are highlighted during this day. This day was endorsed by the United Nations General Assembly, at a time when the world’s refugee population has exceeded 100 million, half of whom are internally displaced persons in their countries and the other half has left to other countries.

Small percentage

According to UNHCR, only 5 percent of refugees around the world receive university education, which is very small and does not help to improve the situation of the world’s refugees. The reasons for the refugee’s difficulties in reaching a university or not being accepted are the lack of documentation or certificates, all of which are outside the refugee capacity.

Lisa Anderson, former President of the American University in Cairo and a member of the Board of Trustees of the University of the People, said that it was not enough to talk with compassion about refugees and their difficult situation; rather we must work hard to solve their problems and the simplest is to provide them with food, education and health above all. The University teaches the largest number of refugees in the world and “we are seeking to double the 10,000 students who are studying with us now over the next few years, which needs to join forces and provide financial support and academic staff to meet the great need.”

Difficult circumstances

Ms. Anderson added that the stories of Palestine, Syrian and now Ukrainian refugees were always important because of their difficult circumstances, but there was also the Muslim minority of Rohingya who had suffered in Myanmar; Hundreds of refugees are educated in refugee centres and will receive American-accredited university degrees in several disciplines. Solutions to improve the situation of refugees were known and lay in ending wars and conflicts; though leaving the world’s refugees and displaced persons without any genuine care, decent employment opportunities and university education was escalating refugee problems. According to UNHCR statistics, there was an increase in the number of refugees; Statistics have the highest figures this year, and here we should take advantage of the development of technology that helps provide services to enable refugees to university education, by deploying Internet networks in camps, and by providing university scholarships from various universities in the world then the talk of addressing refugees’ problems is more realistic.

Refugee Models

In a pause with a number of refugee models, Ukrainian student Yaroslava Simonenko, a refugee because of the war in her country, she was cut off from her university but enrolled at the 100% online American University of the People. “The experience of war is life-changing in itself, and we have to start over again without knowing when we’ll get a chance to go home if we get that opportunity at all.” Yaroslava is now studying at the University and carrying the University with her on her laptop between one city and another.

6,000 Syrians

The largest number of refugees studying at that university are Syrians, nearly 6,000 on full university scholarships, including Mohammed al-Obaid, a 24-year-old Syrian refugee residing in Al-Azraq camp in Jordan, who completed his secondary degree in Syria, but due to the crisis he moved to Al-Azraq camp and dropped out of education. Now he is studying with hundreds of refugees online at the same university and says: “We have had difficult times, and I have not had the opportunity to pursue my education. Once I received the scholarship from the university, I felt like a drowning man that was saved. ”

Another example is Gianna Maqedsi, Syrian student, who was studying agricultural engineering in her home city of Homs, and was forced to leave the city following the outbreak of the crisis in Syria and stopped studying for five years, but insisted on completing her studies. Indeed, through the university she was able to return to academic life, she says: “I was looking for a scholarship to pursue my academic dreams, and then I was introduced to this online university, and I was very happy to get a fully funded scholarship and bachelor’s degree in computer science.”

This is a translated version of the original story first published in Alkhaleej

University of the People