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Swiss NGO launches 'University for Refugees' project in camps

By Camille Dupire - May 26,2018 - Last updated at May 26,2018

AMMAN — Hundreds of Syrians living in Jordan’s refugee camps will soon be given the chance to receive university education and vocational training in the fields of computer science, mobile engineering and logistics management, as part of a new project launched recently by Swiss NGO University for Refugees (UniRef).

Voicing her pride over this new imitative, co-founder and President of UniRef Yvelyne Wood said: “Every student who will obtain a university degree or benefit from a vocational training, will get a job and will not be any more part of a lost generation.” 

"When they graduate, UniRef students will integrate into the labour market and support their families. A refugee who becomes financially independent leads with him/her five other people who are dependent on him/ her," she told The Jordan Times, stressing: "The UniRef graduates will be able to work in the camps, in the host country and, in the long term, will be able to contribute to the reconstruction of their own country."

Scheduled to begin at the start of 2019, the courses, which were designed by Jordan Red Crescent, will last for 12 months and be delivered by faculty members from Isra University, according to UniRef project manager Malsore Biba. 

"The courses will be officially recognised by the Ministry of Higher Education," Biba told The Jordan Times, noting that UniRef will offer two levels of courses for the young victims of war living in the refugee camp. 

Each student will be provided with a computer and a USB memory device and undergo an intensive English course in addition to their academic course, she explained, noting that the project is set to reach 300 students over a three-year period.

“We fled the war with my sister, I was a student then,” recalled a young Syrian refugee quoted by UniRef, adding that “restarting my studies here gives me a hope for a better future”.

Meanwhile, the vocational training sector will offer programmes in health workers assistance and advanced first aid for a duration of 18 months, the project manager continued, noting that these training courses will also be recognised by the ministries of labour and health.

Some 450 students are expected to take part in the vocational training between 2019 and 2022.

Founded in 2013, Geneva-based UniRef works in providing university education and vocational training to refugees placed under the protection of UNHCR and the Red Crescent, according to its website. 

“UniRef is a humanitarian, educational and development initiative that offers young refugees the opportunity to be less dependent on humanitarian aid and take ownership of their own future," Wood said, stressing that "all the beneficiaries of UniRef are refugees who for the most part stay between seven and 15 years in fragile conditions, with less than 1 per cent of them having access to university education”.

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