CGHE webinar series on HE and geopolitics

Improving the Participation of Syrian Refugees in Education through Online Study Courses

Date: Tuesday, 9 July 2024 2:00 pm - 3:00 pm
Location: All times BST. Zoom, registration required
Speaker(s):
  • Dr Amine Moussa, Paeradigms Switzerland
  • Dr. Clemens Wollny, Paeradigms Switzerland
  • Carol Switzer, Paeradigms Switzerland

Flexible learning pathways, such as online education, offer substantial promise for development cooperation initiatives as they can improve access to higher education for vulnerable populations who are not able to attend in-person, scheduled classes. However, online learning poses significant challenges ranging from student-faculty interactions to students’ feelings of loneliness. For refugees, these factors are more pronounced due to their difficult living situations, often in camps and with unreliable connectivity. Significant barriers include a persistent negative perception of online education and the fact that governments of host countries do not fully recognise online degrees, which restricts employment opportunities for graduates, particularly in the public sector.

This study examines the success factors and challenges of learning online for refugees while considering region-specific conditions, such as language and culture, and the implications they have for successfully implementing online studies for selected target groups. Information is derived from a mid-term review of a pilot project developed under a grant agreement between the German Development Cooperation (GIZ) and the University of People to improve access to higher education for Syrian refugees, as well as empirical evidence from development cooperation initiatives. Ultimately, the study responds to the question of whether this project can be transferred to other refugee populations. The study concludes that the project has been successful in providing Syrian refugees the opportunity to improve their employability options and gain an identity other than “refugee” – that of a student – which greatly improves their sense of self-worth and mental health. It also provides policy recommendations for the various stakeholders involved.

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Event Notes

Paeradigms is a social enterprise and NGO founded by a diverse group of development experts from academia and practice. Its mission is to support development actors and policymakers, higher education, research and technical and vocational education and training (TVET) institutions in their quest for capacity development and excellence across teaching, research, and contribution to society (the so-called third mission) and improve access to the labour market. The organisation has its own projects but also provides technical support in developing projects and programmes, MEAL (Monitoring, Evaluation, Accountability, and Learning), private-public partnerships, employability, curriculum development and review, innovation and entrepreneurship, diversity and inclusion, as well as outreach and stakeholder engagement. The focus lies on projects that have the potential to lead to lasting transformational outcomes, social change, and sustainable economic impact. Paeradigms emphasises a transdisciplinary approach with participation, consensus, and ownership. It has built a global network of researchers involved in sustainable economic development and sharpened its core expertise by carrying out complex projects across diverse geographies and disciplines. This expertise is complemented by experience in project implementation with academic institutions and development actors such as DG-INTPA (EU), ILO, the Green Climate Fund, GIZ, Norad, DFID, Enabel, VLIRUOS, the African Union and the Union for the Mediterranean). www.paeradigms.org

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