The current global refugee crisis is the greatest humanitarian emergency the world has witnessed since the Second World War with 60 million refugees fleeing from Syria and other conflict zones.
This mass displacement has had a devastating impact upon millions of people, not only affecting them as individuals, but damaging the peace and prosperity of the communities in which they live. Amongst those, young adults who have had their education disrupted and their employment opportunities shattered.
For almost two years, King’s College London’s community of students and staff has been working with multiple partners across the world to provide support to displaced refugees, as part of their Sanctuary Programme.
With the numbers of refugees remaining high and host communities struggling to deal with the influx of people, this work is more important than ever.
To mark refugee week, we’re taking a look at some of the projects underway at King’s to support displaced young people.
This week, the Partnership for Digital Learning and Increased Access programme (PADILEIA) has launched two free online courses which could help tens of thousands of young people whose education has been disrupted due to displacement.
The new courses consist of a programme where quizzes test understanding of English spoken word. Those who join are also able to chat to other learners in English and write short responses to some simple discussion questions. The courses can be accessed from any device, computer or smartphone with an internet connection.
As well as running online courses, PADILEIA is looking to roll out targeted classroom-based learning in the near future, maximising the reach of the programme to both Syrian refugees and youngsters from local disadvantaged communities.
From the education they receive, it is hoped that students will open up opportunities to enrol at higher education institutes around the world. The aim is that it will also help them become the employable, socially-conscious and entrepreneurial graduates needed to develop and build inclusive societies and re-build countries fractured by years of conflict.
Language lessons in Greece
King’s is taking part in a pilot project with The Open Cultural Center (OCC) to carry out both educational and cultural programs with refugees currently living in Greece. Refugees and international volunteers, including those from King’s, will soon be working together to give English language courses for both adults and children.
Since 2016, King’s has provided Sanctuary Scholarships for students who are asylum seekers or have been granted limited leave to remain, and have no access to Student Finance. The scholarships comprise of full tuition fee support and help with living costs per academic year of an undergraduate programme. To date, King’s has offered thirteen scholarships – five in previous years and eight for September 2018. One of the most recent recipients said: ’This Sanctuary Scholarship is hope renewed for me and my family. Words can’t truly express my gratitude, it is a blessing and a fresh start for me. My aspirations to go to a world-renowned University and begin to realize my career ambitions are being fulfilled and it all feels like a dream!’
Student Action for Refugees (STAR) is a student-run organisation that aims to raise awareness of refugee issues and promote integration of refugees and asylum seekers into society. They run three volunteering programmes that have helped nearly 100 children, many of them every week, complete English, Maths and Science homework and navigate their way through university applications. They have fundraised for Christmas presents for students and run events across the year to raise awareness of key issues through events, such as panels and film screenings.
Notes to editors
Partnership for Digital Learning and Increased Access (PADILEIA)
King’s works with Al al-Bayt University, Jordan, the American University of Beirut, Lebanon, Kiron Open Higher Education, Berlin, and FutureLearn, UK to bring knowledge and expertise together and provide higher education for displaced refugees. The project officially launched in May 2016 after receiving a funding grant from the Department for International Development (DFID) under its new SPHEIR (Strategic Partnerships for Higher Education Innovation and Reform) initiative, a scheme designed to catalyse innovative partnerships in low-income countries to improve the performance, governance and influence of higher education systems and institutions, managed by the British Council, Universities UK International and PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).