Higher education for refugees: lessons from a 4-year pilot project

The purpose of this paper is to present findings from the evaluation of a pilot programme, Jesuit Commons: Higher Education at the Margins (JC:HEM), which initially provided higher education to refugees in Kakuma Camp, Kenya and Dzaleka Camp, Malawi; and to urban refugees in Amman, Jordan. The authors of this note review the progress made towards the pilot objectives, as well as student feedback on the benefits and challenges of higher education for refugees and others living at the margins. The refugees interviewed in this study expressed feelings of empowerment, related to their expanded worldview as well as to a specific set of skills obtained through their participation in the programme. Interviewees also noted a number of limitations specific to the context of their living conditions. Particularly in refugee camps, students expressed concerns about what would happen after they completed their course. The general outcome of the pilot phase, which ended in 2014, was that the programme addresses a critical need and that it should be continued, albeit with key modifications in its design and delivery. Key areas for future growth of the programme include curriculum transformation, integrated service delivery and university engagement.

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