|Education for Reconstruction - Report for the Overseas Development Administration (DFID, 1996, 80 p.)|
Manifold crises such as civil conflict and natural disasters in the former Yugoslavia, the Soviet Union, Mozambique, Rwanda, Ethiopia, and the Gulf over the last decade have resulted in the flight and displacement of millions of refugees. Currently an estimated 18 million refugees live outside of their own country65 and some 20 million people are displaced within their own countries.
65 The Women's Commission News
states that the majority of those who will return and repatriate to Rwanda and
Burundi are children (Women's Commission News, Vol. 12, Winter 1996,
7.1 Basic Needs for Survival
Apart from education, urgent life-protecting needs such as shelter, food, healthier clothing and sanitation should be provided for refugees and displaced persons in order to help them integrate in a host country. Various agencies under the auspices of UNHCR have assisted in providing support to refugees and displaced persons from some areas of the former Soviet Union like Azerbaijan and in integrating them into Armenian society.66
66 Implementing agencies such as UNHCR,
Volunteers for Overseas Co-operative Assistance and OXFAM(UK) have provided
programmes which facilitated the refugee integration process such as in
nutrition, healthier shelter and community services (United Nations Consolidated
Inter-Agency Appeal for the Caucasus, Armenia, Vol. II. March
7.2 Development of Life and Educational Skills
In provision of assistance to refugees and IDPs formal and informal education should be regarded as an urgent priority 67 which should form part of emergency relief, because it not only provides a feeling of stability and normalcy in the midst of confusion and disorder, but is often an important sign of future hope and fosters a sense of community. Moreover, the restoration of some kind of structure, productivity and responsibility can be a central step in the recovery process.
67 'In a survey done by the
International Extension College it was found that refugees' first request
was for education. Apart from giving them hope, security etc., a main reason for
this is that often the first refugees to leave their country are the educated
ones, either because they are aware earlier than others of the problems and so
get away quickly, or because they are activists and in most immediate danger.
Many have to leave their education unfinished; to be unable to continue it is
worse than having no food.' A Study of Refugees' Education With
Particular Reference to Eritrean Refugees in the Sudan, C.H. Williams. Newcastle
University, February 1989, p. 15).
The planning of educational provision for refugees and displaced persons should consider several factors. These include:
· the different interests of the host country, the refugees themselves and the agencies involved68
· the type of education that is most appropriate, i.e.formal - pre-primary, primary, and secondary education vocational - practical and life skills (e.g. mine-awareness), 69 adult-literacy programmes, health care70 education and nutrition, crafts, women's programmes higher education - university and colleges, scholarships abroad
· choice regarding the curriculum
68For countries such as Sudan, which is struggling to provide its own nationals with adequate education as a result of limited resources, it is difficult to provide refugees with education without outside assistance. Although assistance is available from the UNHCR, COR, and other NGOs, resentment builds up among the Sudanese who perceive that adequate educational opportunities are provided to refugee children and not to theirs. Caroline Harvey Willliams states that 'one of the best solutions is probably to provide new schools that are open to refugees and nationals. In this way the nationals are benefiting from the refugee presence and as refugee and Sudanese children meet and grow up together, resentment should be lessened', loc. cit. p. 18.
69 One example of life-skills education is mine awareness. The mine situation is a long-term issue for which the government of Angola is responsible and for which it established the National Mine Action Institute in early 1995. Assisted by the UN in its initial stages INAM was to connect nation-wide education programmes for mine-awareness and avoidance, mine survey and database registration and mine clearance, as well as to implement the training programmes necessary for conducting these activities (UN Consolidated Interagency Appeal, Angola. Vol.I, 1995, p.27).
70 For example, in Tajikistan, refugees and IDPs are, especially vulnerable to adverse effects which are often associated with deterioration in physical health and nutritional status. To alleviate this problem UNESCO proposed to start a health education programme on a pilot basis for a six-month period. The local radio station was intended to be supported by UNESCO to produce radio shows targeted at school-age children and their families, with the aim of supporting the school health programme (United Nations Consolidated Inter-Agency Appeal for Tajikistan, 1 January -31 December 1995, Pan II, November, 1994, pp.53-54).
7.3 Provision of Basic Educational Materials
As we have mentioned in 6.1 provision of basic school equipment such as pencils, and other writing materials should also be considered as a priority for refugees and displaced people. For example in Azerbaijan, Relief International proposed to provide machinery, such as plastic laminating machines, that would allow teachers to create basic educational materials for refugees and local children between the ages of 6 and 15.71 [For more information about provision of materials see Section 5].
71 The project aimed to provide teachers
with tools to create new materials for students. Relief International intended
to teach personnel 10 use the equipment and provide relevant maintenance as well
as samples of what could be created (e.g. maps, alphabets). (United Nations
Consolidated Inter-Agency Appeal, Azerbaijan).
7.4. Development of Human Resources
Complementary to immediate short-term needs for educational reconstruction, longer-term action is required.
Refugees and displaced persons are better able to contribute significantly to the reconstruction of their own home country after repatriation. Refugees who remain and settle an their host country will be able to build a new life for themselves when necessary skills and knowledge have been acquired. Thus, in either circumstance long-term educational provision can assist refugees to maintain subsistence levels.
7.5 Development of New Perspectives and Longer-term Life-skills
As mentioned in 3.0 and 4.0 above new attitudes need "to be nurtured. In conjunction with the development of relevant educational curricula and programmes in order to rebuild their lives, psychological restoration is vital for the long-term rehabilitation of refugees. It also requires the creation of special educational programmes incorporating curricula which especially emphasise such topics as:
· peace education
· civic and human rights education
· trauma therapy programmes