The Alphabetical Approach Towards Refugees Education
E for Education on Refugees
In the year 2014, having been given the scholarship to attend one renowned private school in the country Botswana- Maruapula School, this I saw as an opportunity to discover, and my eyes were opened towards the diversity of colleagues. From various countries inclusive of China, Holland, Zimbabwe to name a few. I was privileged to learn and explore various more cultures, distinctively Indian food, the glamorous attire, and persuasive dance which was performed during the school assembly on several occasions.
What I have learned the most during the 4 years of High School, it is safe to say that each day that went by there was a new encounter to fully immerse myself into. Having made new friends to converse with, the interaction ranged from revision after class, all the way to catching up with current affairs. One extraordinary get-together moment significantly changed my perspective and furthermore highlighting the value of knowing about the people around me, when my friends openly shared their experiences of how they made their way to Botswana. It was on that day that they unexpectedly let us know- in the way I never would have comprehended- that they were (and still are) recognized as refugees, the name sounded very foreign to my mind, from the onset I did not clearly understand it. This was the start of my further research and the main aim was to comprehend the significance of Education among children and the youth, who are refugees.
It was on that day that they unexpectedly let us know- in the way I never would have comprehended- that they were (and still are) recognized as refugees, the name sounded very foreign to my mind, from the onset I did not clearly understand it.
C for Challenges on Refugees
The concept of Refugee can be defined as “people who have fled war, violence, conflict or persecution and have crossed an international border to find safety in another country.” (UNHCR The UN Refugee Agency, 2021) in the category that contains irregular migration cases of asylum seekers, stateless people, and internally displaced people. However, refugees claim the umbrella of requesting protection under unexpected circumstances, and it is given to them. Furthermore, this can be clearly understood in the most recent Refugee crisis, where “Nearly 600 people have been taken to Tunaydbah camp in Sudan’s Gedaref State, according to the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, after nearly two months of ongoing conflict across the border in Ethiopia, between federal Government troops and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).”(UN News, 2021) which remains concerning as it depicts people moving from their respective countries to foreign areas which will require them to settle in, especially in this case having to adjust to the new condition, is it likely to have ensuring children going to school the first priority?
Quality Education can be seen in the Sustainable Development Goal 4, giving children and youth the opportunity to learn and engage in nurturing their lives and making plans for their future. This Sustainable Development Goal covers girls and boys through their primary and secondary school. In this case, the underlying matter brings about the concern towards the Quality Education pillars and goals, if it encompasses, and all-inclusive of underprivileged children, narrowing it down and having children who would have come as refugees. Under the Syria crisis, it is defined as “refugee youth education” and can be seen as being held back because of limitation, “many refugee students, having forcibly fled, do not have the needed certificates to re-enter or progress through a new education system” (Ahmadzadeh et al., 2014) showing the limitations students have to face, beyond the personal desire, that there is a legal boundary as well.
Another significant fall-short approach towards ensuring quality education towards refugee distress can be detected through the mental health disorders which affect the youth, these can range from anxiety, stress, depression, and post-traumatic disorder as a result of the experiences they went through during their childhood, all having happened because of the refugee cases- fleeing from their respective countries. That is, horrific constraints such as not being able to access the basic needs, “access to schools, health care, adequate food and water, safe neighbourhoods, and intact families.” (Refugee Health Technical Assistance Centre, 2011), and therefore making the children vulnerable at a young age, and negatively affecting their future, as a result of not having the quality education opportunities. This comes from the lack of resources to offer refugee youth, the help to deal with and overcome their mental challenges.
D for Disability on Refugees
Moreover, education as a chance for refugee children to grow and develop in their exploration, there are obstacles that remain to be on par with the solutions. The fact that it is barely put into consideration that there is an additional challenge that may be affecting the students at hand. Especially since coming from unfortunate circumstances, they are at a high risk of having physical disabilities to hinder their mobility, and cannot meet the required expectations, act like ordinary students. In this case, the student would come as a refugee, in addition to being a refugee, also disabled. The challenge for refugee children to adapt well continues to spiral and becomes heavier. There are various reasons which repel the chance for children and the youth to engage with the education system when they are disabled. From the start, the misconception can come from the family, seeing the case as a burden, shamed, and humiliated to the point of not sending out children to school, and therefore it is the family to blame out of their restriction.
Overall, it is truly unfortunate that despite there being human rights designated towards children, only very few students are covered. The most known “Everyone has the right to education. It is legally guaranteed for all without discrimination” (United For Human Rights, 2008), (Right To Education, 2018). However, this is not valid as within the stages of becoming refugees it takes away the chance to freely learn. More especially towards refugee children and youth who are disabled, the difficulties burden them heavily with rights that have been written down not evident to the actual experience.
W for What can be done for Refugees?
Having this sensitive matter at hand, where students are mentally and physically negatively affected by their fleeing incidence, which led them into becoming refugees, it is impeccable and the greatest suggestion is to have an official connection between the Ministry of Basic Education and the Ministry of Legislation. Where the two ministries work together, making it conducive for the refugees’ parents or guardians to approach the procedure to register children as recognized students and continue their learning experience to continue being nurtured.
It is evidently written in paper, from the Human Rights, to the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees of the support given towards refugees. The one shortfall is that there is a gap between writing the policies, and actually putting them into practice. As seen from the research that “all have signed the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. None has available and reliable data about the numbers of disabled refugees, and there is no published research about their access to education.” (Walton et al., 2020) showing that it is limited. The current plan can therefore be ensuring the collection of valid facts, documentation, and information about refugees, specifically children education, and narrowing it down to the disabled. This will benefit the future where there are archives to look into for comparison and reliable reference. My passion to delve into knowing more about refugees started from the people around me, who I never would have thought went through this experience, I, therefore, urge that you take a bit of time to read an article or two on the heartfelt stories of refugees, refugees who are children, and children who are also disabled. Here is one that you can get started with. (Human Rights Watch, 2020)
- Ahmadzadeh, H., Çorabatır,, M., Al Hussein, J., Hashem, L., & Wahby, S. (2014). Ensuring quality education for young refugees from Syria. Refugee Studies Centre. Retrieved 27 March 2021, from https://www.unhcr.org/584698257.pdf.
- Refugee Health Technical Assistance Cente, R. (2011). Youth and Mental Health | Refugee Health TA. Refugeehealthta.org. Retrieved 27 March 2021, from https://refugeehealthta.org/physical-mental-health/mental-health/youth-and-mental-health/.
- Right To Education, R. (2018). Understanding education as a right. Right to Education Initiative. Retrieved 28 March 2021, from https://www.right-to-education.org/page/understanding-education-right.
- UN News, U. (2021). UNHCR relocates victims of Ethiopia’s Tigray conflict to new site in Sudan. UN News. Retrieved 27 March 2021, from https://news.un.org/en/story/2021/01/1081422.
- UNHCR The UN Refugee Agency, U. (2021). What is a refugee?. UNHCR The UN Refugee Agency. Retrieved 27 March 2021, from https://www.unhcr.org/what-is-a-refugee.html#:~:text=Refugees%20are%20people%20who%20have,find%20safety%20in%20another%20country.&text=Refugees%20are%20defined%20and%20protected%20in%20international%20law.
- United For Human Rights, U. (2008). Universal Human Rights Declaration, Equal & Free Education, Videos : United for Human Rights. United for Human Rights. Retrieved 28 March 2021, from https://www.humanrights.com/what-are-human-rights/videos/right-to-education.html#:~:text=1.,the%20elementary%20and%20fundamental%20stages.&text=Education%20shall%20be%20directed%20to,human%20rights%20and%20fundamental%20freedoms.
- Walton, E., McIntyre, J., Awidi, S., De Wet-Billings, N., Dixon, K., & Madziva, R. et al. (2020). Compounded Exclusion: Education for Disabled Refugees in Sub-Saharan Africa. Frontiers In Education. Retrieved 28 March 2021, from https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/feduc.2020.00047/full.
- Human Rights Watch, H. (2020). “I Want to Continue to Study”. Human Rights Watch. Retrieved 28 March 2021, from https://www.hrw.org/report/2020/06/26/i-want-continue-study/barriers-secondary-education-syrian-refugee-children-jordan.
- Ricard, J. (2020). Syrian refugee camp in the outskirts of Athens [Image]. Retrieved 28 March 2021, from https://unsplash.com/photos/MX0erXb3Mms.
Pagan III, G. (2018). Simple sticker randomly places on a wall [Image]. Retrieved 28 March 2021, from https://unsplash.com/photos/gkrf6kHp8Mk.