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Higher Education and Refugees: a better coordination for future sustainability

The Conference on Higher Education and refugees organized in Beirut from 26-27 September 2017 in the framework of the HOPEs project and in collaboration with the DG Education and Culture, showed the absolute necessity for a stronger coordination among ongoing initiatives with regards refugees.

UNIMED participated at the two-days event with an intervention of the Director Marcello Scalisi about  the needs of Higher Education in Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq (KRG) with particular regard to the refugees crisis. Dr. Scalisi emphasized the need of setting up a permanent observatory on Refugees/IDPs crisis in relation with Education/Higher Education in order to better understand how to use education as a tool for fighting the crisis and providing useful instruments. The main goal is to avoid the risk of losing generation and, as more and more urgent topic, be prepared for the day after in Syria. UNIMED highlighted the necessity to promote a better coordination system among all actors playing a supportive role to Higher Education Institutions in the region in order to avoid fragmentation, duplication and a regional approach, in favor of a more tailored national strategy. And last but not least, it is absolute mandatory to involve in any measure in favor of refugees and the local communities.

Many other institutions are implementing excellent projects achieving good results, but they are simply not aware of each other. After two days of activities, we consider that this horizontal dimension of coordination must be further implemented along with several vertical dimensions.

The debate during the two days activities demonstrated, for example, that there is a need for a training on technical English language related with some specific scientific domains (such as medicine), that probably Syrian students must be involved more and more in scholarship designing, that a new target can be represented by Syrian Academics, that new activities should be imagined according to what is already on the field searching for upgrading and up scaling rather than proposing new activities. It should be take into consideration the fact that, obviously on long term process, it is probably time to start imagining activities that can be performed in the MENA region and also transferred in Syria and in collaboration with Syrian Academic Institutions.

The results of the meeting were put to the attention of RESCUE project members during the 1st Partnership meeting of the project in Beirut at Lebanese University premises from 27 to 28 September. RESCUE project manager Raniero Chelli underlined the necessity to include in the R-SOS services all these dimensions and needs and, together with all the partners, starts designing a tailored action plan for the creation of these R-SOS units in the partner Universities in Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq (KRG). Basically the R-SOS units will help local HEIs to harmonize already ongoing initiatives informing the local students communities about opportunities for their education career.

Better and quality access to education will help refugees, not only Syrians, to drive their life towards their thoughts as their condition must not represent an obstacle for achieving what they desire, want and dream.